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“Just Say No” Valley

April 5, 2010

Dear NIMBYs in Noe Valley: Seriously?

Your main argument against the trial of the plaza at Noe and 24th is that it will increase congestion? Is that the best you can come up with? Any self-respecting NIMBY should be able to do better.

Have you actually been to that intersection on a weekend in the past five years? I have seen cars fossilize while trying to turn left onto Noe from 24th, waiting for the pedestrian and stroller traffic to clear. Only when some hipster mom takes pity on them do they get a chance, but by that time the driver has had their brain pulled through their nose, been wrapped in muslin and are in a museum.

Your dreaded fear that cars will overrun your side streets is already happening — no one in their right minds drives up and down 24th or Noe, they’re all hitting Sanchez and Jersey.

Oh NIBMY’s, your other arguments are lame as well. NoeValleySF commenter Yizzing has a rather awesome summary of the hysterical anti-plaza arguments:

  • plazas at the bottom of a hill bring death and carnage due to runaway vehicles
  • this location is too “windy” for people to congregate
  • plazas are for hipsters
  • no businesses want a bunch of extra patrons hanging around
  • (the overly bizarre) Noe Valley is “already pretty nice” and (conversely) full of gangs and potholes
  • Noe St is a “major thoroughfare” that must be preserved (if not widened and “expressified”)
  • emergency vehicles will never be able to figure this out change
  • 24th Street will be massively overburdened with traffic (from where exactly?)
  • I will be inconvenienced by driving one extra block…

If anything, the plaza will improve the flow of traffic on 24th. And if there’s any congestion, it’s on the sidewalks — I hereby demand the plaza to release the pent up demand for outside sitting. I can barely get past Martha’s as it is.

IMPORTANT AND SERIOUS POINT: If you want this trial plaza to go forth:

a) show up at the hearing this Thursday the 8th at 665 Elizabeth St.

b) email Andres Power at SF City Hall who runs the Pavement to Parks program to show your support for the trial.

We can blog and bitch all we want but these meetings are where the decisions get made. Bevin is already showing signs of wavering due to the very loud anti-plaza folks, but I do believe they are in the substantial minority. Prove it to them by showing up at the meeting on Thursday.

(And Bevin, I am disappointed in you. If you fold like a cheap deck of cards you’re never going to get elected mayor. Show some spine, it’s a trial plaza.)

But Burrito Justice being what it is, I shall pull the historical card to neutralize the hysterical arguments. Behold!

Yes indeed, in 1886 there used to be a pond on Noe St between 24th and Jersey.

If you don’t give us our trial plaza, we are going to summon the creepy water monster that once inhabited it to haunt you for the rest of your days, emitting foul aromas and lowering property values. (And you’d better hope he’s not related to Gulchie, the sinkhole monster that lives under Valencia and 18th.)

NIMBYs, let the trial plaza run its course and we’ll make a decision after we see how it works out. Or is fear your only argument?


For those of you claiming that Noe St was a “major cross street” both today and in the past — sorry, but there was nothing there before the 1880s. The only roads in the area were to Rancho de San Miguel up where Douglass & Elizabeth are now (yellow fill). One path was along 24th and Elizabeth (red), and others held constant elevation along the north side of Noe Hill (blue/green). The orange line is where Noe St is today. Cows don’t like to climb 150 foot hills in five blocks.

US Coast Survey Map, 1859 (surveyed in 1857) – link to David Rumsey, click image to zoom. Orange line is Noe St today.

1869 Coast Survey Map, link to David, click image to zoom. Orange line is Noe St today.

Even today, that’s one hell of a climb – elevation estimates from Google Earth:

176 feet at Noe & 24th
345 feet at Noe & Hill (vs 360 feet at the top!)
94 feet at Noe and 18th

That’s a 170 feet up Noe from the south, and 250 feet from the north!

43 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2010 11:56 pm

    I see a causal chain there. Bevan is never going to get elected mayor *because* he folds like a cheap deck of cards.

    This is exactly the kind of low-risk, forward-thinking, test case that an ambitious civic leader would jump at.

  2. April 6, 2010 1:37 am

    Brilliant! Love it. I’ll be at the meeting because i live around the corner. I’m tired of having to take my bagels back to my house on Saturday morning because there is nowhere to sit!!!

  3. John Murphy permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:24 am

    Thanks Burrito Justice.

    More info here.

  4. Tragedy of the Commons permalink
    April 6, 2010 8:04 am

    Bevan is often held up as an example of a good district Supervisor.

  5. April 6, 2010 8:34 am

    I’m pretty convinced that Bevan’s liveable-streets credentials are only “oh boy I want your vote” deep.

    I’m also pretty convinced that Mirkarimi actually believes in a lot of this stuff.

  6. April 6, 2010 8:39 am

    NV is impossible to navigate for… anyone. Tiny sidewalks, double-wide strollers, and (as much as I love them) dogs everywhere, benches, newsstands… Then double-parkers and left-turners in the streets. Just awful.

    Dear NIMBYs in Noe Valley: Seriously?

    When have they ever not been?

  7. friscolex permalink
    April 6, 2010 10:12 am

    VERY well said, Mr. Justice. And summoning the water monster is such an excellent idea. Make it happen!

    The protesting NIMBYs are all too often newbies themselves. I got my first dose of NIMBYism when I saw my neighborhood invaded by dot-commers and yuppies. I got over Noe Valley no longer being the crunchy, washed-up hippie paradise that it was when I grew up there, but this is just rich.

    I really wish I could go to the meeting.

  8. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 6, 2010 1:23 pm

    Once you get past the comedy and sarcasm of Burrito, you can deal with the real issues. I mean, seriously, showing a map of a pond that existing well over 100 years ago on Noe St. has any relevance to this issue today? total joke.

    I still do not support the closing of Noe St. for a plaza. Side parks or parklets are ok. Trees and more landscaping and benches are fine. Noe St. is a major cross town street. Closing that portion would create a tremendous amount of traffic on the adjacent streets.

    Keep Noe St. open!

    • April 6, 2010 1:41 pm

      Oh dear, rocky’sdad, you really neutralized me there!

      Glad you support the parklets, but by no means is Noe St a major thoroughfare.

      I hardly think the economy of Noe will collapse if we try the park.

    • April 6, 2010 2:33 pm

      > Noe St. is a major cross town street

      Best joke yet. Thanks.

      rocky’sdad – if you’re trying to be serious, let’s see some data to support your claim. Give us a pointer.

      The whole idea behind choosing Noe for the plaza is that it _isn’t_ a major street. If you think that’s wrong, you need to prove it.

    • April 6, 2010 4:21 pm

      Quoth Rocky’s Dad, previously:

      “Noe St. running north and south from Duboce to Chenery (yea, check it out) has been a trail, or road or paved street for probably 150 years..and should remain so.”

      So clearly he does think what happened on Noe a century ago has some relevance today. He neglected to mention the footbridge over the lake though.

  9. April 6, 2010 1:41 pm

    showing a map of a pond that existing well over 100 years ago on Noe St. has any relevance to this issue today? total joke.

    Yes. A joke. A pretty obvious one at that, especially if you’re familiar with the blog.

    Noe St. is a major cross town street.

    Did you just call this a “major cross town street”? It doesn’t even have dotted yellow lines until it hits streetcar tracks near Market!

    you can deal with the real issues

    And they are…? The only real issues I see is a neighborhood’s commercial thoroughfare that is perpetually unwalkable and undriveable. Why not try to fix that?

  10. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 6, 2010 4:30 pm

    Yes, this is a major cross town street. read into it what you want.

    I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I am expressing my opinion, as others are here as well.

    I oppose closing Noe St. Period. I have communicated that several times to Andres Power and to Bevan Dufty, with my reasons. they appreciate my comments.

    It’s interesting to see so many of you threatened by my single opinion as a homeowner here in Noe Valley.

    But thanks for listening. Keep it civil. Thank you.

    • April 6, 2010 5:11 pm

      Yes, this is a major cross town street. … I am expressing my opinion, as others are here as well.

      Declaring a two-lane, slow-moving, stop-signed road a “major cross town street” is not opinion, it is simply an incorrect fact. Not sure what we’re supposed to “read into” that.

      That said, we are all indeed to share our opinions, and let’s hope that the opponents of whichever way this goes is pleasantly surprised.

    • April 6, 2010 6:16 pm

      Threatened? No. We’re just rather incredulous as to your logic.

      Happy to keep this civil but you still haven’t shown any evidence that Noe is a ‘major cross street’. And history is not on your side.

      The 1859 and 1869 US Coast Survey Maps show no roads or paths where Noe is today. Why? The elevation of Noe (or is it Sanchez?) Hill:

      176 feet at Noe & 24th
      345 feet at Noe & Hill (vs 360 feet at the top!)
      94 feet at Noe and 18th

      That’s a 170 foot rise from 24th, and a 250 foot rise from 18th! Not the first choice of our wise settlers and their cows. They built a cable car for a reason along Castro.

      Unsurprisingly, until the 1880s the only paths in the area were to Rancho de San Miguel at Douglass & 23rd. — one ran east/west between 24th and Elizabeth, and another ran NE/NW to 19th & Castro (along the north slope of Sanchez Hill and Noe Hill). I’ve uploaded maps at the bottom of the article for your viewing pleasure.

  11. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:38 pm

    Yea, right. You can say my opinion is an incorrect fact, all you want..

    Since there is no way to prove that either of our opinions are right or wrong, but only opinions…are you capable of accepting that?

    If not, too bad. lighten up. enjoy the dialogue..and the results.

    • April 6, 2010 7:06 pm

      See, statements like “is a major street” and “is a minor street” aren’t opinions. Given a choice of metric, they’re measurable facts.

      For example, some common metrics include:

      – number of cars/bikes/pedestrians per unit time crossing a given point on the street
      – number of shops/services per block on the street
      – width of street/number of lanes, etc.

      This is what the SFMTA does when they do traffic counts. They’re measuring exactly which streets are ‘major’ and which aren’t.

      Now, which metric is the ‘right’ metric for a given situation is definitely up for discussion and opinion. Everyone’s going to feel differently here. This will depend on what each person wants out of the street.

      Everyone wants a constructive discussion here. Obviously you’re very concerned about the possibility of increased traffic on nearby side streets. That’s fine, that’s a valid concern. Are you concerned about anything else? Like kids in the neighborhood having access to open space? Pedestrian safety? Economic vitality? Community gathering points?

      The idea behind a trial is that we’ll see exactly how the plaza effects the neighborhood. After a few months, we see how it’s doing, and then we evaluate. We have nothing to loose by doing the trial, and potentially a lot to gain.

  12. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 6, 2010 7:04 pm

    LOL…wow. you boys do have a lot of time on your hands..nice research, though. good job.. you’ve proven nothing.

    what I did say in a comment a while ago was essentially this: paraphrased: …”from about the late 1880’s til the present, there has been a trail, or pathway, or roadway from around 30th St. to Market st and beyond where Noe St. is today..”

    sorry if that’s not more precise for your little scientific minds, that’s the best I can do to meet your requirements of logic and facts.

    But fast forwarding to the present: the fact remains: Noe St. today is a major, and yes, important cross town street from Noe Valley to the Castro, Market St. and beyond for many people. Blocking that portion of Noe off at 24th st. would create an increased congestion of traffic going both north and south on Noe, diverted over to Jersey and Elizabeth streets. Many residents on those two streets do not want more traffic on those streets.

    Sorry, but you’re not going to bully me. These are my opinions and they are shared by many others as well. Take it or leave it.

    • April 6, 2010 7:37 pm

      I’ll take that as a compliment. I look forward to seeing some research on your part.

      And no one is bullying you. We’re just calling you on things. Big difference.

      150 years (as you originally said) is 1860, very different from the 1880s are two very different things for a city that got going in 1849.

      But fast forwarding to the present, I look forward to seeing the SFMTA traffic counts.

      (And please tell me where you get your brakes and transmission done, you must get a great deal.)

    • April 6, 2010 8:59 pm

      that’s the best I can do to meet your requirements of logic and facts.

      That’s positively Palinesque.

    • whir permalink
      April 7, 2010 12:35 pm

      I still say you’d have to be crazy to use Noe to get across town, and I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t actually live in the two blocks on Noe and 24th using Noe to cross 24th. Castro and Church are much easier and faster for cars to use to get into and out of the valley.

      Also, not to pile on (and you’ve been a good sport keeping it civil when your opinion is in the minority here), but in your post above you go right from saying “the fact remains: Noe is a major cross-town street” to “these are my opinions and they are shared by many others,” so maybe you can see why there’s a little ambiguity about which one you think is true.

  13. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 6, 2010 7:55 pm

    ok, johnnyo: so you’re into a pissing contest now…

    whatever, dude, you bore me now.

    see you at the meetings. best of luck.

  14. Matt permalink
    April 6, 2010 8:55 pm

    As one of the immediate neighbors who opposes the closure of Noe – I enjoyed this post.

    The pond is gone – but the spring is there. It’s on the northwest corner or Noe & Jersey – and likewise the lot remains undeveloped.

    Where the pond was now stands an apartment building. But neighbors who have lived here for a long time remember a scrappy sort of ball park where local kids played baseball.

    I’d like to suggest an alternate idea. Beneath the 24th & Noe intersection is 75,000 gallon cistern created by the SFFD after the 1906 earthquake.

    I think we should find a way to give the public access to this as a chthonic swimming hole. I wonder if you could fit a barge with an on-board nail salon down there? I think Forbes Island might be too big. What would you do with that?

    If you look around the noevalleysf blog you’ll find more to the arguments against than those presented here.

    • rocky'sdad permalink
      April 6, 2010 9:02 pm

      Thanks matt: great comments and sense of humor.

      I too am opposed to the closing of Noe St. I’ve blogged about many of my reasons here and on the noevalleyblog as well.

      Certainly, some of the old maps presented here are interesting bits of history and charm. They speak nothing about why the Noe St. closure is good for the community at large.

      Hope you can make the meeting. best of luck. thanks.

    • Missionite permalink
      April 6, 2010 10:45 pm

      You oppose a 90 day trial closure? I’m not asking if you oppose a permanent park, just curious about your opposition to a 90 day trial.

  15. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 6, 2010 9:06 pm

    @ troymccluresf:

    speaking of which, you know somethin’? I can see 24th St. from my house.


  16. "Dave" permalink
    April 6, 2010 10:48 pm


    I’m not an expert here. Really not sure which path was most popular in the 1800s but I am perplexed about why one would fight so passionately against a trial when one is so convinced that it will end in failure. Please explain.

    If you truly believe that closing Noe for a couple of months will be so unpopular, a trial is the best way to demonstrate how smart you are. So what is there to lose? The cones go up, the town revolts, the mob sharpens its pitchforks and burns down the plaza, then the traffic starts rolling again, just like you predicted…

    What do you have to lose and why exactly are you against the trial? Wouldn’t that be the most fair way to settle the debate?

  17. gregory permalink
    April 6, 2010 10:48 pm

    boy, if you guys don’t want a delightful little park over in Noe valley, I would LOVE to have it over here by my house in the Mission — I think something like this would be perfect on the block of 20th Street between Mission and San Carlos! Pretty Please??

  18. rocky'sdad permalink
    April 7, 2010 10:37 am

    Don’t have time nor desire to dignify any more comments here that have become personal. You don’t have to trust me, you don’t have to listen to me. Make your own decisions, like I have.

    I am just one of many opinions, but I have taken time and energy to express mine. That’s what’s important.

    See you all at the meeting. Best of luck.

    • April 7, 2010 12:33 pm

      I think “Dave” puts it best — why such opposition to a reversable trial? I think I know why — the vast majority want the trial to go forward.

      Appreciate your opinions, but “personal” sure seems to equal “people disagreeing with you, or pointing out inaccuracies / inconsistencies”. We’re trying to engage you in a discussion since we don’t understand your opposition but you’ve dodged all questions.

      Noe St never has, is not, and never will be “a major and important cross street”. Given the congestion on 24th, there’s already traffic diverting to Elizabeth and Jersey.

  19. Chiming permalink
    April 7, 2010 12:51 pm

    My two cents on the trial – removing a park would be the equivalent of political removing a stop sign. Have you ever seen a stop sign removed?

    • rocky'sdad permalink
      April 7, 2010 1:07 pm

      Good point Chiming: I agree completely. That’s why I’m opposed to a trial plaza, which could lead to a permanent plaza. Let’s say some like the trial plaza, but many don’t. Good luck then with removing the trial. It would create a huge backlash, because, I believe, once something seen as good by a few, will become very very difficult to reverse even if more are against it.

      Go with the parklets (though not my first choice), or go with permanent bulb-outs, trees, benches, landscaping, but not a plaza. Thanks.

    • April 7, 2010 10:13 pm

      Yeah, when they replace it with a stop light.

  20. Rob Anderson permalink
    April 7, 2010 10:08 pm

    Yes, I have seen a stopsign removed.

  21. April 8, 2010 3:35 pm

    I emailed Bevan yesterday and got this reply:

    Thank you for contacting me to support the trial closure of 24th/Noe.

    I am very willing to admit that I make mistakes. Two weeks ago I took a
    walking tour of the area and noted that 3/4 of the homes on Jersey (between
    Sanchez and Castro) had signs opposing closure. Their issue is not
    maintaining personal travel through Noe but the effect of cars travelling
    on their blocks, increased speed, etc.

    Please come to the meeting on Thursday at St. Phillips Church to make your
    support known. It is my goal to have an open discussion without rancor or
    division in Noe Valley. I am sharing your message with Andres Power so
    that he is aware of your support.

    Best regards


    So, we’ll see. I’m hoping to leave work early in order to be able to get there on time, but at least wanted to show my support via email. Good luck, presenters – can’t wait to see what unfolds tonight!

  22. Neo Displacer permalink
    April 9, 2010 10:39 pm

    Leave Noe Valley to the liberal reactionaries. I find it so amusing.

    There was a runaway car 20 years ago, one of the objectors may be remembering that we he bulleted it as a problem. It happened on Castro though, not Noe. Old man coming down the hill apparently lost consciousness and plowed into a double parked car just across 24th. If I recall there were 3 dead, the old man, an infant, and one other.

  23. April 10, 2010 7:49 am

    This is an FYI for BURRITO JUSTICE.
    Bad email address link for: //
    It’s got some extra slashes at the front of his name. Thought you might like to know so more folks can email support!

  24. April 10, 2010 10:38 am

    Thanks JR, looks like I b0rked the mailto, should be fixed now.

  25. Mike permalink
    April 10, 2010 10:54 am

    How do you differentiate Noe Hill from Liberty Hill? Or is it just semantics?

    Curious, as I live on it :)

    – Mike

    • April 10, 2010 2:38 pm

      Good question, and I don’t really know the answer. The hill seems a little bifurcated / schizophrenic to be honest.

      I have always thought of the east side of the hill closer to Guerrero and Valencia as Liberty Hill, an the north as Dolores Heights. The S/SW side seems to be something different to me.

      I’ve seen references to Noe Hill/Sanchez HIll but to be honest that doesn’t really resonate. Also there’s the second hill, the one to the west of Castro St.

      But to me it doesn’t quite sound right to call the Noe side as Liberty Hill. God knows I could make up a name. Noe Heights? Noe Alto? Noe Escarpado? Noe Cumbre?

    • April 13, 2010 4:07 am

      I have heard these two summits credibly called “Castro Hill” (22nd & Collingwood) and “Liberty Hill” (21st & Sanchez). They are both part of the larger “San Miguel Hills” range (named after the Rancho) that includes Mt. Sutro, Twin Peaks, and Mt. Davidson. Castro and Liberty are not individually registered with the US Board of Geographic Names, though, so we may be able to get new names to stick.

      I agree that “Dolores Heights” should refer only to the northern slope of Liberty Hill down to the park, although, oddly enough, the real estate agents draw the line at 22nd, south of the summit.

      I suspect that thinking of “Liberty Hill” as people do today (the lower eastern slope) is something of a retronym. The Liberty Street Historic District, registered in 1976, was just two blocks of residences on Liberty Street. In 1985 it was expanded to the “Liberty-Hill Historic District,” bounded by 20th, 22nd, Mission & Dolores. The hyphen makes me think they meant “Liberty St. / Hill St.” not “Liberty Hill.” But the hyphen got dropped somewhere along the line, and people now think of “Liberty Hill” as being synonymous with the historic district. It’s a grammar mistake! But that’s just a guess. Any historians in the room?

      While we’re on the subject of naming hills…

      – Can you do something about the summit at Dolores & Jersey? We really need a name for that! “Joel Panzer Knob” perhaps? I refer to that hill like once a week at least. It would be a real public service if Burrito Justice could give it a name so that people stop calling it Dolores Heights (

      – Diamond Heights has “Gold Mine Hill” (Ora Way), and “Red Rock Hill” (Red Rock Way). There is a third summit at Everson St. I have heard this called “Billy Goat Hill” after the park on the north slope. But I’ve also heard it called “Fairmount Heights.” Anybody want to take a stand?

      – And what about the ridge that extends out from Diamond Heights to a fourth summit at 28th & Castro? Geologically, that’s part of Diamond Heights but culturally it’s in Noe Valley. I don’t think it has a name and it needs one too.

  26. Millicent M. permalink
    April 11, 2010 8:55 pm

    I hardly think it is up to those of us who want to keep Noe open to prove our position. Let’s just keep it open and enjoy the recently planted trees and new cross walks. Those who want to close it have yet to come up with a good enough reason to close it – apart from wanting somewhere to sit and have a cup of coffee.

  27. April 13, 2010 4:22 am

    p.s. The two summits of Twin Peaks are called “Eureka Peak” and “Noe Peak” so “Noe Hill” doesn’t work as an alternate name for Liberty Hill. (The peak is closer to Sanchez anyway.)

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