Noe Valley Voice April 2012

Letters to the Editor

Ask Before You Pet

Walking down 24th Street in Noe Valley is almost always interesting, and on weekends it can sometimes be quite a show. The sidewalks are filled with groups heading for a meal, toddlers riding in strollers, dogs tethered to parking meters or walking with their owners, young children scampering around and asking a lot of questions, people carrying their sacks full of groceries, and much more. Living in the neighborhood, I usually see a few people I know when I walk down our main street and I often stop and talk.

There is, however, one concern I have about our bustling street. And that relates to safety.

I began to observe more detail on 24th Street after a tethered Labrador retriever snapped at me at the entrance to Whole Foods. He was tied close to the entrance, looking kind of lonely, and I foolishly tried to pat him on top of his head. The click of teeth came quickly after my hand movement, and I was reminded of the fact that he probably perceived me as trying to show dominance and he might have been fearful. But whatever he thought, I was reminded not to approach a strange dog with a pat on the head. I knew that already, but this reinforced my behaving in a smarter fashion, just like a recent street-cleaning ticket strengthened remembering the restrictions.

This personal episode made me more aware of the other dog/human interactions on 24th Street and I quickly found that I was most concerned with what went on between children and dogs. I was seeing small children walking up to tethered dogs who had no owner around, walking up quickly and trustingly to get to pet these desirable creatures. Sometimes the dog owner was present and would help to decide what was reasonable behavior for the child with that particular dog. “She’s an old dog and sometimes she’s cranky.” For a very friendly dog, “Watch out, you are going to get a big wet kiss!” Or, the dog was a small wriggling puppy who simply turned his belly up for attention and there was no monitoring required at all.

Working in an emergency room as a physician over many years, I have seen a lot of dog bites and I am a strong supporter of prevention. Being bitten by a dog is a bad experience for an adult, but much worse for a child, as it can instill a lifelong fear of animals.

There are some simple rules that help to prevent dog bites and these can easily be taught to children (and adults). The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers these suggestions:


Stay calm around dogs. Don’t yell or run away.

Ask before you pet. Don’t pet a dog whose owner is not around.

Approach a dog slowly and carefully.

Let the dog sniff your hand before you pet it.

Even if a dog is wagging its tail, it might not be friendly.

Do not let dogs get close to your face.

Never chase or tease a dog.

Never try to take a toy away from a dog.

Never try to pet a dog through a fence.

Let a dog alone while it is sleeping or eating.


In addition, the AVMA is hosting this year’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 20­­­–26. As part of its safety campaign, the AVMA has a bilingual dog bite prevention coloring book on its website. (Go to One copy can be printed out for free and is an easy way to help a child learn safety skills. And this will help adults also!

Pam Hemphill, M.D.
Hill Street



Harry Steps in Need of Repair

(Addressed to the Honorable Edwin Lee, Mayor)


I wish to draw your attention to the decrepit condition of the Harry Street steps, which are virtually an extension of Noe Street, rising from Laidley up to Beacon Street.

These, mostly wooden steps are dangerous. Many of the steps are rotten. Recently, one collapsed beneath me, and I fell, injuring a shoulder. In places, the handrail has disintegrated, while at the lower end of the steps there has never been a handrail. This is a clear violation of city code, and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I know that in the past there has been a dispute between the City and the homeowners along the street as to who is responsible for repairs to the steps. In this regard, Harry Street is signposted as any other street and appears as such on city maps. Many people use the steps daily, not only the adjacent homeowners, but service and postal workers, and for pleasure and exercise.

Furthermore, the steps are an attraction described in domestic and foreign guidebooks. It is not unusual for them to be visited by as many as 20 or 30 tourists on architectural, or horticultural, tours at one time. Should there be a catastrophic collapse of the steps under the weight of so many people, the City would face multiple million-dollar lawsuits.

It is only prudent that the City become aware of its present negligence, and repair the Harry Street steps in a timely manner.

Richard Aston
Noe Street



P.O. Box 460249

San Francisco, CA 94146

The Noe Valley Voice is an independent newspaper published monthly except in January and August. It is distributed free in Noe Valley and vicinity, on or before the first Friday of the month. Subscriptions are available at $30 per year ($25 for seniors) by writing to the above address.

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Sally Smith, Jack Tipple


Olivia Boler, Other Voices Editor

Corrie M. Anders, Associate Editor

Heather World, Associate Editor

Heidi Anderson, Karol Barske, Helen Colgan, Chrissy Elgersma, Jan Goben, Liz Highleyman, Rebecca Huval, Laura McHale Holland, Florence Holub, Tim Innes, Jeff Kaliss, Doug Konecky, Pat Rose, Roger Rubin, Shayna Rubin, Karen Topakian, Nicole Wong


Pamela Gerard, Photo Editor

Beverly Tharp, Senior Photographer

Najib Joe Hakim, Senior Photographer


Karol Barske


Jack Tipple, André Thélémaque


Jack Tipple, Misha Yagudin


Jon Elkin, Elliot Poger


Pat RoseSteve Steinberg, Jack Tipple


Contents © 2012 The Noe Valley Voice