All posts by Steve Hall

Invasion of Giant AT&T U-verse Boxes, By Gary Weiss, EVNA Treasurer

For the last EVNA General Meeting, I put together a to-scale example of the AT&T utility boxes that are proposed for our sidewalks. It was enormous - 59” wide X 48” high X 26” deep. In addition, they would be mounted on a large concrete base, and have 2 steel bollards to protect them from traffic. The proposal is to place them within 300 feet of almost every existing AT&T box on our sidewalks - up to 726 of them citywide. They are to be painted a very pale green - perfectly inviting for graffiti “artists” - and they buzz all day long - similar to the sound of an electric toothbrush, according to Marc Blakeman, the AT&T rep.

History of AT&T’s system:
In the 1880s Alexander Graham Bell invented what's referred to as POTS - plain old telephone service. The system uses what's called “twisted pair.” One wire goes from the caller, the other goes back.

Fiber optic is a superior option in that it can carry multiple times the data in a tiny thread. It can also carry the signal for huge distances with no degradation.
The problem with AT&T's U-verse plan is that rather than going directly to the door, it would go to the new boxes and stop there. From there to the door, they would continue to rely on Alexander Graham Bell's twisted pair. Because of this, the maximum speed of the data being transferred would be about 1/5 of what Comcast (which spent tens of billions on their infrastructure) already has in place.

Other services such as Monkey Brains are able to provide superior service for a fraction of the cost - without needing to install these environmentally obnoxious boxes in the public right of way. A recent convert to Monkey Brains reports download speeds 36 times faster than what AT&T provided and upload speeds more than 151 times faster. His landline is no longer necessary. The cost: a flat $35/month. And humans answer the phones! Check out “internet service providers” on Yelp and see where AT&T comes in.

From a Google employee: “Wireless technology is on the verge of surpassing (and for some applications, has already surpassed) wired networks in terms of efficacy, and San Francisco should not have to ‘bail out’ AT&T by accepting this blight as a result of its inability to compete.”

In 2011 AT&T stated, on several occasions - including at a Board of Supervisors hearing - that if a neighborhood opposed installation of these boxes it would not get them. Now AT&T is ignoring those promises. When asked why, the response has been “things change.”

In order to prove that a neighborhood is opposed to having these giant boxes take over its sidewalks I have come up with wording for a survey (approved by Supervisor Wiener’s office and AT&T.) You can respond with a simple YES or NO. Please take a moment to express your support or opposition by answering the following survey:

AT&T Utility Boxes Survey
Several private utility companies provide digital service in San Francisco. In order to upgrade its network and offer its U-verse services to its subscribers, AT&T has proposed installing up to 726 utility boxes in San Francisco. In most circumstances, the only acceptable location for these boxes is on sidewalks. These boxes measure approximately 5 feet long, 26” wide, and 4 feet tall. They would be painted a pale green color. These boxes emit a small hum similar to an electronic toothbrush This hum complies with the City’s noise ordinance. Under State law, 6.25% of the revenue generated by subscription-based television from each box would be required to be paid to the City as a fee for use of the sidewalk.

The proposal by AT&T is to install approximately 37 of these boxes within Eureka Valley. Without these boxes, AT&T will unlikely be able to provide its U-verse product as proposed to Eureka Valley residents.

The locations proposed for these boxes was provided to EVNA by AT&T’s rep. (*denotes locations where new unit will be merged with smaller existing one):

601 14th *
721 14th
1003 14th *
1909 15th
2200 15th
3699 16th
3899 17th
4096 17th *
4299 17th
4496 17th *
3901 18th
4200 19th
4298 19th
4546 19th
3698 22nd *
3790 22nd *
3988 22nd *
4197 22nd *
419 Castro
800 Castro
898 Castro *
101 Chattanooga*
180 Church
999 Church *
1414 Clayton
288 Clinton Park*
98 Collingwood
2 Corbett *
339 Corbett
5 Diamond *
401 Dolores *
202 Douglass
10 Hancock
198 Henry
2801 Market
151 Sanchez
594 Sanchez

With this understanding, do you support the installation of these boxes on sidewalks in Eureka Valley, if AT&T commits to working with neighbors to identify locations?

A Fact Based look at Formula Retail, Wednesday, September 25, 7PM Castro Community Meeting Room (above BofA)

Regardless of your position on formula retail, i.e. chain stores, it is important for us all to be informed on the issue - what are the “Facts Regarding Formula Retail.” This is especially important as the planning department is currently undergoing a citywide study of the issue with plans to implement a citywide policy on formula retail. I personally don’t know all the ends and outs of this very complex topic. Do limits on formula retail improve a business districts economic vitality, or does it hinder it? Does formula retail cause rents to increase or decrease? What is the right mix of formula retail in our neighborhood - 10%, 20%, 30%? Are formula retail establishments more table than locally owned? At our public meeting on Wednesday, September 25, 7PM, EVNA is hosting a panel discussion on this important topic. While I know this can be an emotional topic, often based on gut reactions, this panel discussion will be FACT BASED to answer these and other relevant questions. See cover story on this complex issue.

Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)

2011.0508E Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)

A number of public requests have been made for additional time to review and provide comments on the DEIR. Given the citywide nature of the TEP project, the Planning Department is extending the public comment period to 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 17, 2013.

Written comments on the DEIR should be submitted to the Planning Department at the following address:

By mail: Sarah B. Jones, Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco Planning Department,1650 Mission Street, Suite 400San Francisco, CA, 94103

By email to or

Comments on the DEIR may also be made at the Planning Commission hearing. The public hearing on the TEP DEIR before the San Francisco Planning Commission is scheduled for August 15, 2013. There is no change to the date of this hearing. The DEIR document is available on-line at, and notice of this change in the public comment period is available online.

42nd Annual Beautification Awards on August 21, 2013 at the historic Verdi Club

42nd Annual Beautification Awards on August 21, 2013 at the historic Verdi Club to celebrate the most beautiful people, organizations, projects, and places in San Francisco. Each year we gather together to honor and inspire our civic, community, and corporate leaders who are working to make our beautiful city even more so. General admission to the event is free, however your RSVP is required,

Please help us by nominating people, projects, places, and organizations in San Francisco that you feel deserve praise and for their work to make San Francisco a beautiful place. Please visit our website to make your nominations today. Nominations close Friday, August 16th at midnight:

Finally, we ask you to please help us spread the word about our event to your friends and colleagues who might also like to participate in honoring San Francisco's most beautiful. We would love to see more faces at this important civic event!

For more information about San Francisco Beautiful, please visit us online at

Safeway Recycling Center Gets Evicted

Latest news is that Safeway at Church and Market is evicting the Recycling Center as of September 6th.

This is welcome news for the district. This will be a tremendous improvement to the neighborhood. The Recycling Center has had a huge negative impact on the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods. Those who depend on income from this recycling center can still redeem recyclables in their own neighborhood, on a smaller scale Please see: for additional information.

EVNA July 10, 2013 Board Meeting Minutes

Call to order: 7:05 p.m.

Present: Alan Beach-Nelson, President; Rob Cox, Secretary; Gary Weiss, Treasurer; Judy Hoyem; Patrick Crogan; Mary Edna Harrell; Aaron Seivertson; Mark McHale

Guest: James Kelm, Board Candidate

Welcome and Introductions

Treasures Report
Balance sheet has been balanced and reconciled. Alan will try to get a budget column in the report by next meeting.

Editor's note: As of 7/31/13 we've had revenues of $11,353; expenses of $6,933 for a reconciled ending balance of $15,705. Year-end projected additional revenue of $4,250, and projected year-end expenses of $5,272 for a projected year-end balance of $14,683.

July Meeting
Shell Station lot project
Espressamente Illy

July Newsletter
Articles are in and waiting on the editing.

Advertising Drive
Castro Coffee - Rob and Alan secured
Bisou, pending
Jeffery’s Pet Store
Brewery on 18th, pending
Frappe, possible
Pica Pica, possible
Orphan Andy’s - Alan - secured

Alan noted that we have room for one to two more 1/4 page ads. Board Members are encouraged to follow up and stress that space is limited.

Membership Drive
36 still haven’t renewed. Please follow up with neighbors you know.

Espressamente Illy: in 8 cities in the US, Formula retail rules do not apply despite there being over 200 globally. Owner used to manage Pasqua and wants to come back to the neighborhood. He is a Castro/EV native having gone to Douglass and Mission High. Decided that EVNA would not ask for Discretionary Review, instead Alan will have a conversation with Illy with these points of conversation: retain historic façade; prohibition of alcohol; limited patio usage (10-7 negotiable to 9-8); no speakers on the patio; continuous communication as the project develops. If Joe will agree to these conditions in writing, we will not file a Discretionary Review. Agreement to be sent to Planning and posted on EVNA website. If he will not, then Judy will prepare the DR application in preparation for filing on 7/25 deadline.
Editor's Note: Joe agreed to all of our conditions and signed the agreement at the 7/24 Public Meeting. A successful strategy of working in partnership with local businesses.

Shell Project. Design concerns 10% open space; roof deck with wind screen; neighboring the Swedish American Hall; community benefits?; no onsite affordable housing?; roofline articulation?

EVNA will reach out to work with DTNA on this project. EVNA Board agrees to require onsite affordable housing. EVNA Board agrees to require 25% open space.

AT&T Boxes. AT&T is moving quickly to install these large boxes. Gary will take the lead helping to oppose the box installations. SF Beautiful is appealing the installation of these boxes.

September Meeting:

Formula Retail Panel:
Hour-long Panel discussion to help understand guidelines. Mark, Gary, Alan, to work on developing the panel.

DOMA/Prop 8: James to reach out to Deb Kinney for presentation.

New Business
Bank of the West seems to be hindering retail space to local businesses. Scott is taking the lead to make them honor the original agreement.

Kevin Ho wants to host an EVNA event in an historic home (that is for sale). The board feels that it’s inappropriate to hold an event that will appear to be promoting the sale of a home.

No August Board meeting. Board members are charged with providing newsletter content by the end of July.

Orie has agree to do an audit of neighborhood businesses.

Meeting adjourned 8:55

Espressamente Illy Café to Open in Castro/Eureka Valley

Castro native Joe Gurdock, who attended Douglass, now Harvey Milk Academy, and Mission High, is returning to his roots and opening an Italian Café at 2349 Market St. (former Mirror and Frame shop) next to Rollo.

Both EVNA membership and the Board feel that Joe is exactly the type of local business owner we want to encourage, nurture and help be successful. He provides a model that we feel will maintain Castro/Eureka Valley's unique character and creates a vibrant business community.

We worked collaboratively with Joe to arrive at mutual agreement on key components of the design and ongoing operation of his Espressamente Illy Café. This agreement will help ensure that it is a success while also ensuring the unique character of the neighborhood, and maintains the balance of residential and business needs. The executed agreement is attached for your information.


By Sargent Scott Edwards, Mission Police Station

What do the following the scenarios have in common?

1. A rather drunk man walks home, texting on his iPhone and updating Facebook.
2. An older gentleman accepts a drink from a very attractive young stranger at the bar.
3. A visitor to the Castro leaves her rental car parked on the street with her backpack inside of it.

If you answered “they’re all in danger of becoming victims,” you are correct. At the risk of being accused of blaming the victim, let me suggest some ways in which you, your friends and family can lower the probability of becoming a crime statistic.

The common thread linking most victims is an inability to exercise capable guardianship. The more distracted or intoxicated a person is, the harder it is to take good care of themselves and their property. Likewise, the less secure a person’s property, the more vulnerable that property is to theft. Most criminals are actually risk-averse, although sometimes they misjudge how risky a given crime is. For example, if you put yourself in the shoes of a would-be robber; would you choose as a potential victim an obviously intoxicated person carrying his cell phone in his hand, or an empty-handed person walking briskly down the sidewalk? Most criminals would choose the former. Although it’s flattering when a pretty young thing brings you an already-made drink, the careful person has to ask, “Is this too good to be true?”

What should you do if you are a victim of crime? The first and most important thing to do is get yourself to a safe location. Obviously, what constitutes a safe location depends partly on what has happened, and partly on your present level of ability. Secondly, you need to report the crime to the police. How you report this also depends on the situation. If you return to your vehicle and find that someone has broken into it, you can call 415-553-0123 or 311 or make a report online. If you’ve just been assaulted, robbed, or have a bona fide emergency, you should immediately call 911. Once you have called, stay calm and tell us these five things first:
1. Where you are.
2. What happened, preferably in one sentence (e.g., “I was robbed!”) You can give out more information later.
3. Where the suspect is, or which way the suspect went, on foot or in a vehicle.
4. What the suspect looked like and was wearing.
5. Whether the suspect had any weapons.

The one exception is that if you are badly injured, let the 911 dispatcher know immediately. Otherwise, when the police arrive on the scene, we will make sure you get any needed medical attention.
Keep in mind that our response time is predicated on a number of items:
1. The caller’s use of the proper number.
2. The speed at which the call-taker gets the information to the dispatcher.
3. The priority of the call, as assigned by our dispatchers based on your initial call and their protocols.
4. The availability and capability of units to respond.
5. The proximity of available units.

For example, if a robbery victim calls 911 to report they were just robbed at gunpoint at Dolores Park on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday night, officers may be able to respond to the area within two minutes. On the other hand, if a good Samaritan calls Mission Station directly to report a suspicious person casing cars on Pink Saturday, there will be a delay while the person working at the station relays the call to dispatch, another delay while officers first complete higher priority assignments (like the aforementioned robbery call,) and a further delay as they make their way through heavy traffic to your location.

In summary, try to avoid being a tempting target for criminals by being aware of your surroundings, monitoring your ability to take care of yourself, and being cautious of situations that appear “too good to be true.” If, despite your best efforts, you do become the victim of a crime, report it appropriately as soon as possible and give as much information as you can.

Finally, get involved and stay involved. Criminals target what they believe to be easy prey. As a community, we have the means to dissuade them just by watching out for each other as well as ourselves.

Stay safe!

Emergency calls: 911 or 415-553-8090
Non-emergency calls: 311 or 415-553-0123

Upper Market Development Updates

By Judith Hoyem, EVNA Board Member and Planning and Land Use Chair

The SF Planning Department has been mandated by the Association Bay Area Governments to produce 92,400 more housing units over the next 25 years for 280,000 more people. The Department has developed a policy to build as many units as possible along “transit- rich corridors” of which Upper Market is one. With the improved economy in San Francisco and the availability of financing, projects that had been stalled during the past few years are now popping up like giant mushrooms: one virtually complete at Market between 16th and Noe (formerly known as “the church pit”); another at Market and 15th (north side) under construction; a third at Market and 15th (south side) represented by a hole in the ground; another at that same intersection at Market and Sanchez which is just beginning the entitlement process. A project at Castro and Market that has been years in development has finally received permit entitlement (see separate story: Design for 376 Castro Approved!)

Fort the complete story and other important news for our neighborhood see the July-August 2013 Newsletter, under the Newsletter tab.

June 12, 2013 Board Meeting Minutes

Castro/EVNA Board Meeting Minutes
June 12, 2013; 7PM - 8:30 (7:30 - 9:10)
Herth Realty

Attending: Rob, Mark, Mary Edna, Tim, Patrick, Judy and Alan
Note: Rob forgot it was Wednesday so the meeting was moved to Herth Realty on Castro

Guests: Orie Zaklad, James Kelm, Les Natali, Luis Cuadra

1. Les Natali the Patio Café. Proposing to re-open.
A brief history of the Patio’s development. 1992 SF legalized the space for 160 occupancy. A number of requirements were met yet ADA requirements were still pending. CU’s forced the Patio to start from square one and apply for CU to operate as a restaurant. 2005 permission was given to merge the bldg. Certificate of occupancy signed off in 2012.

Les is seeking EVNA’s approval for the new CU’s allowing a restaurant in this space. Proposed new operating hours, serving food until midnight and a front bar until 2am.

There are concerns are noise abatement; skylight restrictions could be included; adjacent space is retail and not part of the Patio, the rear space of the retail space is part of the Patio. Planning Committee hearing July 18th.
Motion: to approve the CU authorization
Discussion: 9:00 close the skylight, hours of operation and standard conditions to be written (similar to the Café CU’s) and passed to the board.
Passed unanimous.

2. Luis Cuadra, Chipotle. Presentation on Chipotle occupying the former Home restaurant space. (Cory manager) 28 employees, 11:00 am-10:00pm. Tentatively planning to go to Planning Committee next week. There is local manager discretion.

Formula retail percentage would be 17-19% when the Safeway parking lot is eliminated from the equation. Community giving is a concern. Two fundraisers every quarter required by Chipotle. Wages & benefits: minimum wage and promotions from within as well as DP coverage, adoption coverage, education reimbursement.

Discussion: Chipotle is a model formula retail. But do we want a formula retail in the Castro?

Motion: That the Board not take a position to approve or oppose the Chipotle project. 5 in favor, 2 opposed*

* Gary emailed his vote to oppose Chipotle and he outlined his reasoning. I failed to report it. This changes the vote tally 5 in favor and 3 opposed.

More importantly, at our May 22nd Public Meeting, dues paying members voted to oppose Chipotle, 10 against, 8 to support. It was fairly close, but we should have considered this vote in our discussion before taking a position. 18 members represent more than our required 5% of membership voting.

Motion: EVNA oppose Chipotle based on membership informal vote. 9 in favor, 2 opposed via email voting

3. Treasurer’s Report
As of this date balance of $11,018.27.

4. July Meeting
Scott Wiener and David Chiu will be invited. SFPUC will give a presentation as well.

5. July Newsletter
Article submission deadline July 3, Mary Edna and Patrick need all articles no later than July 5th. Rob and Alan need all content by July 13. Newsletter to the printer by July 16.

Articles for the July newsletter:
• Castro Sidewalk Widening, 1 page+ - Alan
• Follow up - Patrick
• Scott Wiener - Alan
• Under One Roof Pop up - Alan
• PGE Blurb on gas lines - Alan
• Love Where You Live - Mark
• Castro/Upper market Vacancies - Alan
• SFPUC - Alan
• David Chui - Alan
• Planning Update - Judy
• CBD entertainment - Alan
• Neighborhood Faves - MEH
• Next Door - Orie

Mark will take over for Dan to coordinate the articles and manage the deadlines.

6. Advertisers
Please continue to work to get these businesses to advertise. Deadline is July 1st.
The Balloon place at States - Mark
Castro Coffee Co. - Rob
Rosenberg Deli - Patrick
Bisou – Mary Edna
Jeffrey's Pet Store – Aaron
The Brewery on 18th and Church – Aaron
High Tops – Tim
Mud Puppies – Mark
Jewelry Store - Gary

7. Membership Drive
41 members still not renewed valued at $1,090. Board members selected lapsed members from the list to contact and get to renew. Patrick will call the members who still haven’t renewed.

8. Board Development
The draft Board Roles and Responsibilities were reviewed.
Motion to adopt the Board Roles and Responsibilities as presented: Rob, second Mark. Unanimously approved.
Please continue vetting members for potential Board members. Please chat with Alan regarding specific needs. The goal is to bring the Board up to 15 people.

9. Statement of public participation at EVNA Committee meetings
The proposed statement has been amended and passed by unanimous vote of the Board to read the following:

Become involved and engaged in your neighborhood Association!

Members and general public are welcome to attend our Board and Committee meetings. All other committees meet on an ad-hoc basis. In order to ensure that committee business is conducted on schedule, guests may participate in agenda item topics only after all committee members have discussed the item. Participation is limited to up to 2 minutes and up to 6 guests per major topic. As necessary, the Chair may limit discussion at their discretion but will not be unreasonably withheld.

The Planning Committee meets the first Wednesday of the month and the Board the second Wednesday of every month from 7 to 8:30PM at Chase Bank Meeting Room. To attend a Board or committee meeting please email the chair in advance. For Board,, for Planning, If you have a specific topic to discuss, we ask that you contact the appropriate chair so that the topic can be scheduled on the agenda.

10. Adjourn 9:10