Monday, April 26, 2010

Pixie Hall Studios providing classes for Children during the next P2P meeting

The last P2P meeting April 8 was well attended, but a major complaint was that people with young children were having trouble getting babysitters and thus could not attend the meeting. Given that families with young children are a large demographic in the neighborhood today, this is problematic.

Enter Pixie Hall Studios

Located across the street from St Philip's School, Pixie Hall is an Art Studio with classes for young children. While we are still finalizing details, the owner, Noe Valley resident Kristin Scagliotti has graciously offered to run a class during the next P2P meeting, most likley from 6:30-8 PM so that the young ones can get a little fun in the Art Studio, allowing parents to participate in the P2P meeting.

The most important detail is obviously "What date is the meeting?" That is a detail without an answer beyond "late May".

As I said, details are still being finalized, but if you are interested, please email

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tell Bevan Dufty, Andres Power, and Gavin Newsom you support the trial plaza on Noe at 24th

Andres Power from Pavement to Parks sent this email to people who had written previously supporting the plaza trial. And also to those opposed, I assume!

Dear Noe Valley Community Member,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to send an email expressing
your opinions and thoughts about the proposed Noe Valley Pavement to Park.
We have received hundreds of emails, both supportive of and opposed to the
trial, and unfortunately, we cannot respond individually to each. I would
like to assure you that every email has been read and noted. Based on
comments we heard at the April 8th community meeting, we are conducting
some additional analysis in advance of a meeting tentatively scheduled for
late May. I will send out an email invitation for the next meeting as the
date gets a bit closer.

Again, thanks for taking the time to make your voice heard. It's much


Pavement to Parks Project Manager

There will be another meeting in May. We need a great turnout for that meeting - in the meantime we can keep the pressure on by making sure that everyone has expressed their support in writing.

Send an email to the following people to show your support for the trial plaza.

When you do, please Cc:

Please include your mailing address so that the location of supporters is clear to the City and for verification purposes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who is the Noe Valley Association? What do they do?

Good questions, actually posed by a plaza opponent at the meeting.

The Noe Valley Association is the Community Business District that collects money from a parcel tax on 24th Street from Church to Douglass, and uses that money in the district. A lot of what they do is basically "keep 24th Street clean". The people you see sweeping up 24th Street (and the side streets)? Paid for by the NVA.

Tree planting on 24th? Flower baskets? Fixing up the corner trash cans? That's the NVA. Here is a snippet from an email I got from Bob Roddick, the President of the NVA.

For several years the SF Water (Sewer) and SF Planning have been pushing for permeable sidewalks and more open spaces to lessen the burden on the sewer system and more importantly to lessen the annual flooding of our neighbors at Lower 24th Street. The more water that the earth absorbs the better the overall environment. The Noe Valley Association has opened the sidewalks more fully with each on the 137 new tree plantings and has encouraged the property owners within the Community Benefit District to open their sidewalks to more and more planting. See the fronts of Just For Fun and on either side of Southside of Noe at 24th Street and in front of Whole Foods with the open space wherever possible and the donated benches.

There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes in making a neighborhood work. I didn't know much about the NVA until the plaza issue came up. Since I met Bob Roddick and Debra Niemann (the Executive Director) I have been really shocked at how much work they do, things that we just take for granted. They work hard and if they hear about a problem, they think "OK, how do we fix that", not "Bummer"

Benches? What benches?

The day after the Plaza Outreach Meeting, Debra Niemann was out there overseeing installation of a nice new bench on the sidewalk at Bernie's.

And yes, the NVA was involved in writing the grant application for the Noe Valley Plaza and securing funding for the trial.

Their board meetings are monthly, posted on their website. Get involved!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Say Yes to Noe Valley Community Space

24th Street is not just a great street, it’s a public space. And Noe Valley knows it. Up and down 24th street, people linger, socialize, eat, drink, stroll, sit and relax on the street. Kids play, dogs rest, people watch on the sidewalk. On benches, in pocket parks, at the farmer’s market, on curbs – Noe Valley is alive with community, people, activity.
At the same time, the 24th Street is crowded. This means a successful street! Families are out, businesses thrive, neighbors talk. Seen another way, it can be a limit on community space and even dangerous. Pedestrians step into the street to skirt crowds, kids have little room for running or scooting, parents clamor for control, drivers scrutinize for parking and not the pedestrians in their midst.
It is time that 24th Street addresses what the community calls out for not with words, but with actions. The community’s actions scream for more public space, play space, sitting space, safe space. Merchants put out benches, because they know it brings more business. Pocket park seating, sidewalk bulbouts and enhanced crosswalks have begun to answer the demands also. But they are not enough. They do not significantly address the need for more public space, sitting space and safe space off the roadway.
It’s time to see what works for the Noe Valley community; it’s time to create adequate public space. The City’s Pavement to Parks program is doing just this. Around San Francisco, local groups have partnered with the City to transform underused streets with unnecessary conflicts into safe public spaces – on a trial basis. If it doesn't work, there is no commitment to the trial design. Any Saturday or Sunday along 24th Street is testament to how perfectly suited the idea is for 24th Street.
The Noe Valley Association has partnered with the City to bring a Pavement to Parks trial public space to Noe and 24th – the 100% corner of community and sidewalk activity. One option for the trial is a plaza that extends 60 feet down Noe from 24th Street. It would not only increase people space adjacent to a major pedestrian hub. It would also create an entire block free of through-traffic. In and adjacent to the plaza, kids will have more space to learn how to bike, scoot on scooters, or play games. Neighbors could meet without squeezing on a sidewalk. Others could host events, if desired. The other option would increase sidewalk space, seating and planting through two “parklets,” on either side of Noe, while maintaining through traffic. A trial is the quickest and cheapest way to test what works for Noe Valley . It is way to say “yes” to something based on facts, not “no” based on fears.
It’s time we say yes to what the community is screaming for. Time to say yes to safer streets and fewer conflict points. To say yes to parks, not pavement. Yes to more play space. And yes to finding solutions. It’s time to say Yes Noe Valley.

Email Bevan Dufty to say YES to a trial public space.

Tell him YES in person on Thursday, April 8th at 6:30 in St. Philips.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Noe Valley Association FAQ's on the Noe Valley Plaza

Click "Fullscreen" to get the fullsize (readable!) view of the FAQ's from the Noe Valley Association.


Will the plaza be big enough for my 2 year old to walk around?

To me, one of the compelling arguments for the plaza concept at Noe and 24th, is that it gives the neighborhood's large kids/dogs demographic a spot right on 24th St where they can get off the sidewalk, sit, and let their kid walk around or have space for their dog to lie down without worrying about blocking the sidewalk.

The question arises - would this be akin to letting your kid play in the street, dangerously close to cars?

Let's take a look.

On the left is the Upper Noe Playground. On the right, is Noe Street. The proposed plaza is half the size of Upper Noe Playground, more than enough room for public interaction, places to sit, and yes - to get your child out of the stroller and let him or her stretch their legs a bit (under your watchful supervision of course!).

Sketches of the Noe Valley Plaza

There has been some concern from those worried about the plaza that the plaza will be "ugly".

Allow me to allay those concerns! These are simply a first pass of what could be, that everything- from overall design to what type of trees are used to planter box placement to chair type to surface materials will all require further neighborhood input before anything is put in place.

Here is a view of the plaza from a bird's eye view from the Southwest (from Noe Street behind Rabat).

And here is the plaza from eye level, looking from the Northeast (from in front of Starbucks).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Say YES to a Plaza Trial - Improve Public Space on 24th Street

Now is our chance to improve 24th Street!
At community planning meetings in 2006-2007 residents called for more public space along 24th Street. In response to these community wishes, the Noe Valley Association (NVA) won a grant for more public space. Together with the City’s Pavement to Parks program, we now have the unique opportunity to have a community plaza on Noe Street at 24th on a trial basis.

A Trial Community Plaza to See What Works
The proposed temporary plaza would close about sixty feet of Noe St. just south of 24th St. for an attractive community space where kids can play, where neighbors can gather and socialize, and where the community can sit, drink, eat, socialize, and or rest while strolling and shopping in the area. By giving pedestrians a safe space on Noe St., the plaza will also improve traffic at the 4-way stop intersection, which is a frequent bottleneck. A similar plaza has improved public space, local business and pedestrian safety in the Castro. What is being proposed is a TRIAL run to see if the community supports a permanent plaza in this location.

Some opponents have organized to block this community space in Noe Valley. They have contacted Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who will decide
whether the plaza trial will (1) go forward, (2) be replaced with an alternate proposal for sidewalk seating “parklets,” or (3) get shut down entirely. Opponents are trying to kill the plaza before even seeing what works for residents.

Let’s make Noe a great place to go TO, not drive THROUGH!
“Plazas for the People” is a group of neighbors that want to give the trial plaza a shot. We are not anti-car, nor are we adamant about a permanent plaza. However, we DO believe in testing out a possible vision for a neighborhood hub. If the majority of Noe Valley residents feel that the plaza isn’t working after the trial run, it goes back to the way it was. Let’s give it a shot and see what works.

Show your support for improving public space in Noe Valley:
Attend the community meeting on April 8, 6:30 pm - St. Philips Church

Diamond St. entrance between 24th & Elizabeth, in downstairs community room.

E-mail Supervisor Bevan Dufty at

(and copy Bevan needs to hear from you and see you at the meeting!

More info on Pavement to Parks projects here