Noe Valley Voice December-January 2007

Letters to the Editor

Old Trees Among Casualties of Demolitions


A very old, very tall (40 to 50 feet) palm tree was cut down in late October in the 500 block of Valley Street, to make way for the slated demolition of the cottage behind it. I believe it was one of the oldest palms in Northern California and in good health, despite the owners' claims to the contrary. It was home to many species of birds and wildlife, including wild parrots. The tree could be seen for miles around.

Sadly, San Francisco is losing its unique character. In the Valley/Diamond Street area alone, at least 10 homes have been demolished in the past four years to make way for ugly "monster homes."

Robert Bosco
Valley Street

St. Luke's Needs Intensive Care


St. Luke's Hospital, located on the eastern edge of Noe Valley near the end of 27th Street, has kept its doors open to all, regardless of ability to pay, for 136 years. But if California Pacific Medical Center, its corporate parent, implements its announced master plan, the acute-care in-patient services at St. Luke's will cease operating at the end of 2009.

Already, CPMC has targeted the workers compensation clinic, occupational therapy and physical therapy, and is planning to eliminate the neonatal intensive-care unit and pediatrics service in February.

The hospital's master plan, recently presented to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Health Commission, has generated considerable concern among St. Luke's physicians, nurses, and other staff, as well as among residents of the neighborhoods served by CPMC's four campuses. The closure of in-patient services will downgrade our Emergency Department to an urgent-care clinic. For life-threatening emergencies in Noe Valley, St. Luke's would no longer have the specialists needed to provide high-quality care. Ambulance transport times would greatly increase, with a significant impact on critical cases. San Francisco General Hospital, already overburdened, might not be able to handle the overflow of patients it would receive.

We believe that the elimination of pediatric services will leave many children in our community without access to medical care and will undermine the safety and quality of the obstetrics services that currently delivers 1,300 babies each year.

We are concerned that elimination of workers compensation treatment and related services will undermine doctors' practices and make them even less viable than they currently are, given the high percentage of low-paying Medi-Cal patients we treat.

For more information about this issue that will affect the health and safety of all Noe Valley residents, please view our web site, There is an online petition, a blog for patients' stories, and links to recent news.

We urge our neighbors to communicate their concerns to CPMC's president and board, Sutter Health, the San Francisco Health Commission, and the Board of Supervisors. Together, we believe a solution can be found to restore St. Luke's to financial viability and ensure its ability to carry out its mission of service into the future.

Karen Makely, MD, Pediatrician
Elizabeth Street
Susan Bailey, MD,
General and Vascular Surgeon
Hill Street
Marc Snyder, MD,
Emergency Physician
22nd Street
Lora Burke, MD,
General and Breast Surgeon
Hill Street

A Recipe for Force


Your latest article on crime-fighting, "Noe Merchants Stay on Alert to Foil Crime" [June 2007], certainly made me shiver with satisfaction, especially when I read that merchants were meeting to exchange telephone numbers and addresses (and, I would hope, recipes).

My advice to the store owners is to contact one of the local gun ranges listed in the phone book, make arrangements to learn proper self-defense with a firearm, and then obtain a firearm and be at the ready for the day when you might become a victim.

Criminals understand reactive force, not wimpy exchanges of e-mails and cell phone numbers. This coffee klatch mentality, with its discussions and exchanges, is not going to stop crime. You are the victim, and you deserve to defend yourself from criminals, no matter how sympathetic you are to their economic plight or mental condition.

If you don't want to take my advice and stand up for yourself, even if it means using deadly force, well then continue on with the meetings. I will attend not to demonstrate personal safety and weapon use, but rather to bring my collection of interesting recipes.

Andrew J. Betancourt
Market Street

Thank You, Drivers


On Oct. 11, our kindergarten through eighth-grade students--along with their teachers and many parents--walked from St. Philip School at Elizabeth and Diamond streets down 24th Street to Church Street and back. This was our third annual Walk for Fitness event, which promotes the importance of good health, road safety, and physical activity for children.

We would like to thank all of the drivers and pedestrians we passed on our walk through the neighborhood. Hopefully, we were all courteous and considerate to those we passed along the way.

Mrs. Remy Everett, Principal
St. Philip School
Elizabeth Street