Unhappy with plans for the proposed Noe Valley Plaza and a perceived lack of being heard, a few voices were raised during a Planning Department presentation last night.

Via Noe Valley SF: “…gist voiced by Bevan, Andres and other members of the Planning staff: “It will be difficult to move forward” with this project given the “vocal opposition.”
We happen to favor Snoopy’s “speak softly and carry a big stick approach” ourselves. Of course that assumes you have a big stick (or persuasive argument as the case may be).
Noe Valley Plaza: Tea Party Filibuster Hijacks Community Meeting [Noe Valley SF]
Mildly Entertaining Shouting Erupts at Noe Valley Plaza Meeting [sfist.com]
Soon To Be Sitting Pretty In A Series Of New Plazas And Parklets [SocketSite]

64 thoughts on “Noe Valley Plaza Meeting: This Will Make (For) News In Noe Valley”
  1. Who would have thought we had our own tea party militia right here in the hamlet of Noe valley.
    This is BS. SF will never get anywhere if it continues to let assho*es with control issues dominate everything. Really, trees are killing people? Last I checked the killers were killing more people but getting less hot air from the populace.

  2. Few things are more pathetic than NIMBYs with a sense of entitlement (maybe that’s redundant).

  3. meanwhile, the pavement to parks project in the Castro is a huge success, and has been made permanent with a very nice, appropriate and somewhat ingenious design in my opinion.

  4. Both sides of the issue are clearly out of line and acting immature and irrational.
    What an embarrassment for Noe Valley.
    But it’s also clear that Andres Power and Bevan Dufty do not have the skills to control a public forum so that all sides may be heard intelligently.
    A lot of people mistrust them now.

  5. Progressive city? I think not. Too many cooks have spoiled San Francisco’s proverbial stew.

  6. The guy that was screaming that “we weren’t notified” reminded me that some time when I have a lot of free time on my hands, I’ll count the number of times people fall back on that canard at a PC meeting. It’s almost a required secondary signifier of NIMBYism:

    There are good reasons why NIMBYism is so pervasive…but it is hard to witness firsthand, say at a neighborhood meeting about a proposed condominium project. First, people complain that they did not get notice of the meeting — yet they are in attendance, so what are we to make of that? Others voice complaints that seem embarrassingly trivial to air in public in a voice quivering with outrage…

    The guy I’m thinking of says “why weren’t we notified; why did we have to read about it in the paper”, but of course not every planning commission action requires a 311 notification (don’t know if this meeting met the requirements or not, point is that everybody says they weren’t notified even if they were, in order to have a justification for delaying the process overall, or as Mr. Screamer says, “start over from the beginning”).

  7. at least we all know why SF has so much concrete and so little green. People want it that way.
    there are times in the deep dark winter when I think “huh, maybe I should move back to SF…”
    and then I read a story like this.
    on an unrelated note (but I saw the linked story): anybody know if Ike’s Place will be able to stay open in the Castro?

  8. noearch, since you are the rational and mature one, maybe you would like to give some explanation for your belief that Pavement to Parks supporters have a “suburban mindset”?

  9. Can anybody explain what the neighbors’ beef is with this project? They’re talking about closing off 1 small block by 24th Street. So you just won’t be able to drive through that block anymore, so what. How else is this going to impact their lives? A few more people will drive down Jersey street?
    It seems like the parklet would be great for everyone in Noe and in the general area. Pedestrians would have an area to hang out and eat food and relax. Vendors and Restaurants would get more foot traffic b/c more people would want to come to 24th street. If you haven’t noticed, Noe vendors could probably use more visitors to the area. Half the stores on the block are for lease.
    I also don’t get the Starbucks argument. All of the vendors in the area are pushing for this thing, not just Starbucks. I think consumers in SF are savvy enough to get the coffee they prefer, not just go to Starbucks cause it’s conveniently located next to the proposed parklet.
    These few people shouting on this video seem very immature and selfish and it sucks for all of us.

  10. Also, isn’t this just a trial run for like a few weeks? If it all goes horribly wrong they can just remove the temporary park and everyone can go back to their dandy life, no harm no foul.
    I would really like to hear the opinion of someone who is opposed to this thing.

  11. @schneed: not sure if you are joking or not, but you might want to start by reading the hundreds of comments posted over the last several months on the Noe Valley blog…about this issue.
    Lots of opinions in both directions. Lots of work has been done by the Planning Dept.
    You can also read a ton of info on the Pavement to Parks website.

  12. Schneed,
    * They believe Noe Street is a major thoroughfare to Market (although Castro, Church, Dolores, and Guerrero are nearby).
    * They fear increased traffic on nearby small streets. SF Planning estimates that under a worst-case scenario, the Noe closure will increase traffic on Sanchez St. by 55% (in my opinion, from a trickle to a trickle-and-a-half).
    * They object to the loss of four parking spaces. (One prominent citizen threatened to “sue” the city for taking away “my” parking spot.)
    * They do not see the need for public space or don’t think public space should be “in the middle of a windy street” where “children are in harm’s way” They don’t think it is “logical” to convert a street to a plaza.
    * They don’t understand what a person would do in a plaza (just a place for dogs to pee, or spoiled rich children to run around, or liberals to drink cappuccino on flimsy street furniture).
    * They think it will be noisy (although the street furniture will come in at night). Some don’t want more visitors or more pedestrians on 24th St.
    * They feel they were not properly consulted and their voices were not heard. (This is the second public meeting and clearly they have no idea how to conduct themselves at one.)
    * They think it will be ugly. (Some hate the Castro Commons and San Jose-Guerrero Parks.)
    * They do not believe that this is only a trial. Although the Planning Dept. has laid out the criteria and the process for several steps of review (60-day trial, followed by review for extensions of the trial, followed by an eventual decision about permanence), they do not trust the government.
    Mainly, it’s a lot of fear and misinformation mixed with anxieties about cultural change and gentrification in Noe Valley and a general distrust of government (not unlike national trends).

  13. Aftee watching this, that nasty and smug Noe Valley “Wife Swap” dad makes much more sense – he’s just one of many there.

  14. Good try at “careful” editing of the facts w05, but you left out some key things.
    1. Noe street is, in fact, a major cross town street from Noe Valley to the Castro and Market St. Thousands of cars per day use it. You, conveniently forget to mention the increased traffic on Elizabeth and Jersey Streets, where many of the residents oppose the plaza.
    2. You forgot to mention that many other alternatives have been discussed for a plaza location, and are currently on the table as being viable. You and the plaza proponents have been fixated from day one on JUST one location: the closure of Noe St. at 24th. You fear even the discussion of alternate locations.
    3. You forgot to mention that temporary “parklets” are a valid alternate solution for outdoor seating and landscaping. Many of you LOVE and worship the parklets installed on Divisadero St.and on 22nd St. in the Mission, but you don’t want them on Noe St. Why are you opposed to them in Noe?
    4.Yes, you are right that we are strongly skeptical that a so called “trial” plaza would NOT be removed if proved unsuccessful by the neighborhood. Once it is installed, it would become virtually impossible to remove under any circumstance.
    5. Yes, many opposed to the plaza are mistrustful of the Planning Dept. They have made some mistakes along the way about notification, and not being more open minded to other ideas. How does one place trust in a Planning Dept. that has allowed several employees to download internet porn during the work day on city owned equipment. That action can severely erode the trust they must earn.
    6. Many of us do feel the temporary plaza would truly be ugly and an eyesore to the area. Witness the pile of old tree trunks and plywood planters that are now installed at the Guerrero park. Pretty unattractive many would say. And this was developed by the Planning Dept. Need I say more?
    Yes, there is probably fear and mistrust on both sides of the issue. But for many of us, the central issue is that the street grid (Noe St.) now in place and well used for over 100 years should not be interrupted and closed off to make way for a windswept plaza, used by a minority of residents.

  15. These are the same idiots who turned up to oppose employee shuttles. What is up with these Teabag tactics?
    After the meeting I attended, I wanted our employee shuttles to run them down. Now that I hear some of the very same people bringing up the horrifying specter of Starbucks, they seem more like pathetic cartoon characters than anything else. Maybe they should get Deputy Dawg outfits to wear around as they patrol the ‘hood.
    One more reason why I don’t even like to go near Noe Valley.

  16. I’m fine with some people being opposed to changing streets to parks, and if a majority really don’t want more public space, then fine, let another neighborhood benefit.
    What really bothers me about the opposition to this idea is that they aren’t even open to a trial. The only reason you can be opposed to that is you fear that it will be very popular, and you don’t want to give people the opportunity to experience it, and like it.
    Let the trial happen, you’ve voiced your opposition, the city reps know it is a risky proposition for them. So if it turns out to be as horrendous as the opposition claim it will be, then the trial will come to a conclusion, and they will cancel the park.

  17. noearch:
    I didn’t mean to get into this with you here. I was just trying to provide a quick summary for Schneed. I think it’s a fair summary, although obviously I’m editorializing a little.
    As for your points:
    1a. Noe Street carries about the same traffic as Sanchez, according to the city. If you want to argue that nearly every north-south street from Castro to Guerrero is a “major” street, be my guest, but it’s absurd. That’s six major streets in 0.6 miles in a residential neighborhood.
    1b. I mentioned increased traffic on “side streets,” plural, which includes Elizabeth and Jersey. I don’t mean to ingore them. I singled out Sanchez as the street that will see the greatest potential percentage increase. The other streets will see less impact. So it goes from a trickle to a trickle-and-a-third, for example.
    2. I support the closure of Noe because SF Planning (the experts) have identified it as the location with the highest pedestrian presence and the most amenable slope. It’s also the intersection that currently has the most pedestrian-car conflict. I’m open to closures of Sanchez and Vicksburg, but Planning believes they will be harder to keep activated. I’m a fan of science, so I want the plaza with the highest chance for success. The other proposal you’ve supported (purchase of the $4 million farmer’s market lot) is not a serious alternative.
    3. Noe St. is a bad location for parklets. It’s a side street with a slope. I do support parklets on 24th, but planning has said it’s not an either-or scenario. Parklets do not serve the diversity of users that a plaza would.
    4. Very few of the opponents I spoke with at the meeting could repeat back to me the information the Planning Dept. presented about how a trial would be evaluated and how an eventual decision about permanence would occur. It’s one thing to be skeptical. But you have to be educated about the facts first.
    5. In other words, you think I accurately summarized this point.
    6. In other words, you think I accurately summarized this point.
    I love your 100 years argument; that’s a classic. Remember, 120 years ago, Noe & Jersey was a pond.

  18. I am pretty sure that an overwhelming majority of Noe Valley residents support the park. The main reason these guys are so vocal is because they know they are in the extreme minority and they think that they can make up for that by shouting loudly.

  19. @noearch
    So your basic argument is that you’re concerned about the increase in traffic flow on Jersey and Elizabeth Street, that’s about it. Cause your other reasons are kinda silly. Distrust in the planning dept b/c some people looked at Internet Porn?? Are you serious.. LOL
    And you think the plaza will look ugly and be an eye sore? Could it get any uglier than old, dirty, black pavement with loud, smokey cars driving and parking all day long?
    They’re going to put plants and trees and benches and tables with people walking and resting. What is gonna be ugly about that?
    The 1 month trial will allow them to assess the increased traffic flow and see how it affects residents in the area. What is wrong with giving it a try? Of course they’ll remove it if everyone thinks its annoying. Don’t you think you’re being kind of a spoiler for everyone else?

  20. I was there and it seemed to be 10 or so people all sitting in the front row who were so disruptive. It seemed quite clear, both by where they were sitting and how they conducted themselves, that this was their goal. I have no problem with some of my neighbors voicing their opinions, disagreeing with city actions and government in general, and constructively participating in the democratic process, but this type of behavior is not constructive and, if anything, ensures that the extreme reactions of these individuals are marginalized and ignored as they are deemed so outside the mainstream so as not to be even listened to, not by the planning department, not the planning commission, not by the board of supes, and certainly not the Mayor. In a word or two, their behavior is counterproductive and only guarantees that whatever good ideas they might have are not incorporated to the extent they might otherwise be, whether that’s “kill the project” or “move it elsewhere.”

  21. Could it get any uglier than old, dirty, black pavement with loud, smokey cars driving and parking all day long?
    Man, what Noe Valley are you talking about?

  22. You can’t cut off a street and expect Noe Valley busybodies to go along. Noe busybodies love their cars too much.
    Who can blame them? Prop 13 has locked in a ton of old hippies with bad hips in Noe. Walk? who does that?
    Also, they’re sh!t-scared of change because it usually means they will soon stop being at the top of the food chain.

  23. So this wasn’t surprising – I’m the partner of an employee at the Whole Foods there. There is an incredible reservoir of hatred, hostility, and venom held by a portion of the residents there. For awhile customers were screaming at the cashiers that they were stupid, ignorant and they personally were responsible for the fact that Bell Market is gone. Oh, and Whole Foods is why their puppy died. Thankfully most of those folks FINALLY stopped shopping at the new Whole Foods, but only in the last 3 months.
    I agree the logs at the Guerrero parklet are fugly but I also realize that’s just the San Francisco/Bay Area gardening aesthetic. I’ve never liked it but at least people are consistent in their bad design. I’m just happy there is a REAL understanding that we can’t garden using plants we all grew up with east of the Rockies. Natives and low-water plants have finally really taken hold.
    To both w05 and Noearch – I think a trial is very appropriate, I think the fear that even if it tanks it won’t go away is real, and to negate all that, I don’t think it will be a bust and will be incredibly popular. Never underestimate the popularity of another place where the stroller set can socialize.

  24. “5. Yes, many opposed to the plaza are mistrustful of the Planning Dept. They have made some mistakes along the way about notification, and not being more open minded to other ideas. How does one place trust in a Planning Dept. that has allowed several employees to download internet porn during the work day on city owned equipment. That action can severely erode the trust they must earn.”
    I work for Uncle Sam and am reading this thread at work, is that why some people don’t trust Obama?

  25. The people of Noe Valley in attendance of this meeting, you should be ashamed of yourself for your behavior.
    That aside, the Castro project has been hugely successful on all fronts. It started out on a trial basis and many people in the neighborhood gave it a test run. Now, it something that has added so much to the neighborhood.
    I think that Noe Valley too should give it a trial run. If you don’ tlike it after trying it out, then fine. But keep an open mind. If you don’t have an open mind, then why are you living in SF?

  26. “If you don’t have an open mind, then why are you living in SF?”
    In SF, like all other places, you are accepted only if goose-step to whatever groupthink prevails at the time. Here we magnificently see two groupthinks collide!
    I’ll bet the loudmouth is living in an inherited prop 13/58 house, or a rent-controlled situation (does anybody know for sure)?
    Most recent homeowners are only going to enjoy this “plaza” on the weekends anyway, as current groupthink mocks “suburbanites”, but not “city dewellers” who take school buses to the peninsula suburbs to work.

  27. This is the inevitable outcome of the car fetishist outlook on life. If the Gulf coast spill, the hundreds of thousand of dead in Iraq and global warming isn’t enough to make these people reconsider how to prioritize their own comfort and convenience vs. all the damage they inflict on others, you don’t seriously think the need for children to have place to play is going to do anything but enrage them, do you?

  28. maybe Ike’s should try one of those vacant restaurant spaces along 24th street? You think the Noe Valley welcome wagon would come out to greet him (with pitchforks and torches… and probably more than a few teabags)?

  29. “Most recent homeowners are only going to enjoy this “plaza” on the weekends anyway”
    Actually, NV likely has a higher proportion of stay-at-home moms than anywhere else in the city.

  30. Once the shenanigans started, I leaned back, looked at my wife and said “Perfect. But I forgot my videocamera”.
    Thanks to sattvicwarrior we have proof.
    I was asked if I wanted to speak and said “How can I top that?!”

  31. Unfortunately, murphe: your side is also part of the so called shenanigans.
    You certainly seem to be a data collector, and proof collector.
    Is that what defines quality of life? numbers and videos?
    And of course, pushing your narrow little agenda on everyone. what a turn off.

  32. Dammit, murph, is that how the city should make a decision on behalf of the community? Facts? Data?
    Some of us prefer to operate on prejudice and mythical thinking.

  33. Nobody can make the case that the current intersection is representative of good “quality of life.” Three cars back honking horns on all sides? Yes Noe is the best way to Market. So what? That intersection is atrocious because Noe has changed so much. Neighborhoods evolve.

  34. Noearch, I respect many of your comments about architecture and development. I don’t agree with all of them, but I recognize that you have a point of view, alot of experience in your field, and we benefit from it on this board.
    On this matter you seem to be attacking people for simply wanting to try something, and you summarily dismiss any “evidence” they present supporting their case. You seem to be taking my handle to heart and in the most curmudgeonly way expressing your opposition to this project.
    I don’t live in Noe Valley, and I don’t have any strong feelings on this project. I do (I admit) drive through that intersection as my way back to the Castro from 101. Habit developed because I lived off Noe for many years. However, I could easily change my route to Castro street with no extra time involved (without impacting Elizabeth or Jersey, I might add…).
    If there is substantial community and merchant support for this proposal, I really don’t see the problem with a time limited trial. The sky will not fall, and earth will not tilt from its axis.

  35. Of course the sky won’t fall.
    I support keeping Noe St. open as do many other NV residents.
    the data gathered by SF Planning dept. shows that 4-6k cars per day go thru the intersection of Noe and 24th. That’s a lot of traffic that would be diverted to the smaller side street. Many of those residents oppose that increased traffic.
    Not wanting to continue to repeat myself, you might want to read the hundreds of previous comments by me and others on the Noe Valley blog, talking about both sides of the issue.
    I’m not attacking anyone, but I’m opposing their opinions. Nothing wrong with that.
    Seems like you attacking me by quietly calling me your “name”…hmm..not cool.
    I’ve stated my position and multitude of reasons why the street should remain open, and additionally have supported many other alternate solutions to the plaza. There are many voices that also agree with me. thanks.

  36. So we are talking about 3 cars a minute? That is hardly much traffic, the truth is, that intersection is horrible for cars as it is, since there is so much foot traffic, auto drivers often have to wait a minute or so to even cross.

  37. I bet a lot of the current “problems” with that intersection could be just as easily solved by banning left turns.
    since there is so much foot traffic, auto drivers often have to wait a minute or so to even cross.
    Not to mention Jane Yuppie who is entitled to be next, so she pulls into the middle of the intersection until the far crosswalk clears.

  38. It’s hard to imagine a busier intersection for both pedestrians and cars without a stoplight in the city. I doubt there is one.

  39. Exactly. So we can put a stoplight there, which makes the intersection significantly worse for pedestrians and bikes and marginally worse for the bus, at a cost of 100-150K. Or we can put a plaza there, at a cost of 35-50K, which would encourage more north-south drivers to take Castro, Dolores, or Guerrero — efficient cross-town routes that are already controlled by stoplights. And that’s only one of many benefits.

  40. w05 has a good point…
    I agree that this particular intersection is hell for drivers. I’m usually a ped/bike advocate, but I have often cursed the peds at this intersection. Although it is not in any rulebook, I happen to think that the first one to an unsignalized intersection (auto OR ped) should have the right of way. It would be NICE if peds would give some consideration to drivers stuck at this intersection and just stop for a moment. But peds in Noe Valley are entitled to a fault…they don’t even acknowledge that they are off the sidewalk as they amble across.
    I expect there is a certain density of ped action which “requires” a crossing light, and this intersection probably meets that test. The volume of auto traffic clearly does not demand a light.
    The parklet could “solve” this conflict quite nicely!

  41. Let’s be clear curmudgeon: A parklet is not the same as a plaza.
    Parklets could be added to each side of Noe St. at 24th, still allowing 2 way traffic to drive thru. This makes sense. It doesn’t divert cross town traffic to the smaller side streets, and the parklet adds some seating and greenery to that corner. I suppose there may be some benefit to that.
    On the other hand a plaza, temporary or permanent, would close off the ENTIRE width of Noe St. at 24th. requiring all car traffic to be diverted onto 24th and Jersey and Elizabeth streets.
    A traffic light, while making sense for cars and pedestrians would cost in the range of $150k, from sources obtained at the planning dept. It still may be worth the cost in the long term.

  42. @curmudgeon
    The Planning Dept is using the language “plaza” to refer to a street closure and “parklets” to refer to the conversion of parking spots (as seen on Divis and 22nd in the Mission). Parklets on Noe St. are seen by some as a compromise, although really nobody likes them in this location. (A separate proposal for parklets on 24th St. has more support.)
    We disagree on a few things, but we should agree here. Let’s stop discussing parklets on Noe St. as an alternative to a full plaza. You don’t like them. I don’t like them. Nobody likes them. It’s not a good location for parklets; it’s a side street (which means pedestrians are less likely to use them regularly) and it has a slope (which means engineering challenges). Moreover, parklets will bring more pedestrians to the intersection and cause more congestion by crowding the right-of-way in an already congested area. Unless you close the street entirely, it just makes the problem worse.
    Discussion of alternatives includes a plaza at other intersections (Sanchez, Vicksburg) and/or parklets on 24th St. None of those alternatives solve the Noe/24th congestion problem, but at least they don’t make it worse.

  43. Come to think of it, a plaza at Sanchez probably would make the 24th/Noe problem worse. So I’ll retract that last statement.

  44. @w05:…NO, we don’t agree here.
    I was originally completely opposed to “parklets” at each side of Noe. I still don’t particularly like them, because they are flimsy and “fake”, but I’m willing to offer support to them, in lieu of the complete closure of Noe St.
    The engineering challenges, as you say, are not complicated and easy to handle, given the slope of the street. People will probably use them, since they are very visible from 24th. They may or may not create more pedestrian crossings there; hard to quantify.
    But closing off the street entirely, as studies have shown, will cause increased traffic problems on 24, Jersey and Elizabeth and perhaps other side streets.
    The other plaza locations have been discussed and probably are not viable. The one alternate that is gaining interest and discussion is the existing parking lot and farmers market location that St. Phillips church owns, on 24th St. That idea has great potential, long term, for a permanent public plaza. Let’s see where that idea goes.

  45. That’s just what I said. You don’t (particularly) like them, but you’re willing to support them as a compromise (in lieu of street closure). But who are you compromising with?
    SF Planning doesn’t like them. The Noe Valley Association doesn’t like them. The main plaza supporters don’t like them. Most of us would rather see no changes to that intersection than see parklets there. So what’s the point of offering your “support” (which I assume means blog commentary) for a compromise that doesn’t accomplish anything? Unless you secretly love parklets, or unless you’re trying to muddy the discussion, it doesn’t make much sense.
    I’ve named a few advantages of 24th St. parklets over Noe St. parklets. Can you tell me why you prefer parklets on Noe?

  46. well, ok…if you want some more thoughts on the parklets, sure.
    I never see things so black/white, either/or as you seem to do. Compromise is part of working out solutions that perhaps give something to everyone. If parklets (or even more permanent sidewalk landscaping) would mean NO street closure, then of course I support them. I still think they are flimsy, the trend of the moment and not offering lasting positive upgrades to a neighborhood.
    That’s all. My opinion. I’m sure there are many others.

  47. Again, what is the advantage of parklets on Noe St. over parklets on 24th?
    Sorry to be so dense or black&white or whatever. But I’m still not understanding.

  48. Don’t know. Didn’t know the discussion was about advantages or disadvantages about parklets at any location. I have no opinion on that issue. Doesn’t matter to me.

  49. Okay, thanks for the clarification. All I was saying was that parklets on 24th have much more support than parklets on Noe (for the advantages stated above). If you are interested in alternatives you may want to pursue that one.

  50. thanks for your well intentioned (I think) advice, w05.
    But I have never actually heard or seen ANY support for parklets along 24th st..not from the Planning Dept. or the public. Perhaps there has been some discussion among neighbors, but not in a public forum, to my knowledge.

  51. “there is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to be a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for enemies all those who are well off under the old order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.”
    Looks like the conservatives won this round, too bad, Noe Valley could use some new ideas.

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