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Hartford Street Neighborhood Association

By Rob Cox

It started last spring. A group of neighbors were out on the sidewalk talking when another neighbor, Bob, walked down his front steps to his car parked at the curb. We all gave the “good morning neighbor” wave and continued our conversation.

The next thing we saw was Bob bounding out of his car looking astonished and a bit shaken. There was a homeless person in his back seat. The guy broke into Bob’s car, spent the night and trashed it.

Another neighbor walking across the street said “call the cops on this guy, he’s bad news”. And sure enough, when officer Fraser apprehended this man a block away he had 35 priors, including assault and breaking and entering. We found out he had been breaking into houses and terrorizing businesses - among a litany of other crimes. He has since been put in jail and we haven’t seen him since.

The small group of neighbors that filed complaints that day began talking about some of the not so nice events that were going on in our neighborhood. Topics included break-ins, gay rape, loud partying at 2 A.M., homeless people camping out on the street and on our doorsteps and the situation surrounding Halloween. The more we talked the more we were convinced we should do something about these problems as neighbors. So, we contacted San Francisco SAFE.

San Francisco SAFE is the city's leading crime-prevention education organization. They help residents, police, and community groups work together to create safe, vibrant neighborhoods by providing violence prevention education, public safety information and community organizing services. (

Hartford Street is a residential street that runs behind Castro Street and as such gets a lot of overflow traffic – both foot and vehicular – from the Castro Businesses. So, with a few neighbors taking the lead, we met monthly at the Eureka Valley Community Center and wrestled with these issues. Through these meetings we created the Hartford Street Neighborhood Association (HSNA). A local neighborhood association established to help advocate for a safe, informed and social environment on Hartford Street.

Since we have been meeting we have had at least two chronic criminals removed from Hartford. There has also been a notable decrease in people sleeping on the sidewalk and in doorways. We also helped with making sure the Cafe would meet its conditions of use before they were allowed to expand.

The group meets monthly and is working to help neighbors interact and keep each other informed about events and goings on and also provide activities that will help Hartford Street become a more familiar group of neighbors. The idea is to watch out for each other and become better neighbors. We also want to provide annual or semi annual get-togethers on our block.

If you live on Hartford Street you can stay informed by going to our Yahoo group and signing up. Go to:


Let's Talk Trash.

How is trash collection adding you your quality of life herein Erueka Valley? Let us know. We want to hear from the perspective of the neighbors what problems there are, if any, in the way trash is treated.


Hey Folks,

You may have noticed that I have some of the stories going... they are all "works in progress" until we go to assemble the next newsletter.

Here are some more of the articles that we need:

  • Revised Police Boundaries (judy?)
  • Let's Talk Trash (steve)
  • President's Column - Hooray for Us! (steve)
  • "Block in the Spotlight" (alan)
  • Frameline 33 Endorsement (steve)
  • 17th Street Plaza (steve)
  • Halloween Update (alan)
  • EV Foundation 501(c)(3) Status (steve)
  • Jet Bar Update (steve/alan)
  • Walgreen's Update (steve)
  • 80 Ord?? (play by ear if it that far along)

"Illegal Demolition" At 412 Noe Street

This story needs a lot more help.

Members of our organization attended a "neighborhood outreach meeting" with the project sponsor and her representatives regarding 412 Noe (the one that burned/totally demolished). Although we do have questions regarding the"illegal demolition" and concerns about the design of the replacement structure of 412, our major concern is about 420 Noe. This structure appears to be a "Fernando Nelson" Victorian, but in the early 70's, the building had the historically significant facade sawed off to build the front extension. That structure is currently vacant, with fire damage of the original old structure now visible and the 70's addition remaining, also in poor condition.

At our meeting with the project sponsor, they seemed reluctant to discuss plans for 420. We do not know why. From the neighborhood perspective, it makes no sense whatsoever for 420 to be salvaged. In my discussion with the project sponsor's architect, Mr James Cline, he, too, agrees that a repair would cost significantly more than a demo/rebuild, in both time and money.

The bottom line for the neighborhood is that we would like to see reconstruction be started as soon as possible on both structures, minimizing the length of time that the immediate neighborhood must live with the inconveniences of construction, and getting the properties developed for much needed for housing. We would to like to pursuade the project sponsor to get going on this.

Current and Future Board Vacancies

At our last General Membership meeting on May 15th, EVPA Board Member was elected as EVPA Treasurer to fill out the rest of the term. This now leaves one of three “At-Large” Board Positions vacant. All EVPA members are welcome to express their desire to serve on the EVPA Board of Directors. We have had one member so far express an interest. If you are interested, please let one of the board members know.

Additionally, the nomination and election of our 2009 Officers and Board is just around the corner. Again, all EVPA members are welcome to become part of the "Internal Affairs" Committee that will choose the slate of officers for us.

EVPA to Recommend Changes to Planning Code for Castro & Upper Market NCD's

It has been over 20 years since the sections of the San Francisco Planning Code that define the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD) and the Upper Market NCD were last changed. But in those past 20 years, our neighborhood and the needs of our neighborhood have changed.

Last year as part of the SF Planning Department's "NCD at 20 Review" - the EVPA Planning Committee did a thorough review of both NCDs, then brought their proposed changes to the Planning Code to the General Membership for ratification. That review was all-encompassing, with no distinction made between changes which were "good" versus those that were essential or critical for the immediate future to ensure our NCDs trive. Additionally, the proposed changes were only to be included as part of the review and report to the Planning Comission, and not intended for actually modifying the Planning Code.

The Planning Committee has again revisited the NCD requirements, this time to distinctly calling our changes that we feel are very necessary for the immediate future. At the next EVPA General Membership meeting on July 17th, the Planning Committee will once again be coming to the EVPA membership for approval of proposed changes to the Planning Code. In this round, the only changes being proposed are those that are both essential to ensure our NCDs remain lively, profitable and neighborhood serving. As such, we will not pe proposing any changes that could be considered "policital." Proposed changes are:

Planning Code Section 715 (Castro NCD):

  • Change permitted operating hours to 6am to 12 Midnight, otherwise by conditional use
  • Allow bars by “Conditional Use” (currently not permitted)
  • Allow Full Service Restaurants by “Conditional Use” (currently not permitted)
  • Allow small self-service restaurants by “Conditional Use” (currently not permitted)
  • Allow Animal Hospitals on second floor with “Conditional Use” (currently only allowed w/CU on first floor)
  • Allow Administrative Services on the second floor (currently not permitted anywhere)
  • Allow residential use on the ground floor only with “Conditional Use” (currently permitted)

Planning Code Section 721 (Upper Market NCD):

  • Change permitted operating hours to 6am to 12 Midnight, otherwise by condition
  • Allow Full Service Restaurants on second floor by “Conditional Use” (currently only allowed w/CU on first floor)
  • Allow movie theaters on second floor (currently only allowed on first floor)
  • Allow Mortuaries on first or second floor with “Conditional Use”(currently not permitted)
  • Allow Administrative Services on the second floor (currently not permitted anywhere)

Levi Strauss & Co in the Castro

On June 12th, the San Francisco Planning Commission granted Levi's the required "Conditional Use" (CU) to open a "Formula Use Retail" store within the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD). Levi's is very excited about opening this store. Construction should begin as soon as permits are issued, most likely by the end of June, with a goal of having the store in full operation by "Folsom Street Fair." This is the first time in memory that a national chain actually has a goal based on our neighborhood culture.

Although some EVPA members expressed valid concern that this formula use retail is not consistent with the EVPA position of not allowing any further formula use retail within the Castro NCD, the overwhelming majority of EVPA members felt that Levi’s was uniquely qualified as an “exception.” Levi’s unparalleled corporate support of the community and the long-time connection with our neighborhood significantly outweighed the concerns of formula retail use.

Because there was no known opposition to Levi's, the s item was placed no the "Consent Calendar" meaning that the Planning Commission was able to approve the conditional use without lengthy hearings. The EVPA would like to thank planner Sophie Middlebrook who was the planner responsible who made that possible, as otherwise the hearing date would have been significantly delayed.

We look forward to the grand opening party!

Draft minutes from 5/15/08 EVPA membership meeting

The president called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

The president made the following announcements:
-Castro/Upper Market Community Streetscape Design Workshop, June 4, 6:30, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
-Castro Theater programming -- Indiana Jones movie will cause parking issues from June 22-29
-Website upgrade -- the site is becoming much more interactive and members are encouraged to contribute content
-The Eureka Valley Foundation has finally received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS

Pink Saturday
Sister Barbi Mitzvah from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence presented the Sisters' plan for Pink Saturday (night before Pride). The Sisters will continue to organize security for the evening and are working with law enforcement to increase safety, to prevent underage drinking, etc. A media blackout will be enforced again, which was successful last year in preventing the neighborhood from being overrun. Castro Community on Patrol will once again provide security assistance on the perimeter of the event.

Representatives of Levi Strauss presented their plans for the 525 Castro Street location that they propose to use. They stressed Levi's longstanding role in the LGBT community, the HIV/AIDS community, and the Castro neighborhood, as well as Levi's generous giving. They described the uniqueness of this store, unlike other chains. After a number of questions and discussion, on motion and second the membership voted to support the Levi's store at 525 Castro.

Greg Bronstein presented Jet's proposed expansion into the gallery space next door to the bar. Greg presented renderings and provided details about hours, usage of different parts of the space, and Jet's efforts to be a good neighborhood. After a number of questions and discussion, on motion and second, the membership voted to support Jet's proposed expansion and to authorize the Planning Committee to work out conditional use requirements.

Treasurer election
The president announced that Joe Caruso had resigned as treasurer. Alan Beach was nominated as treasurer and was unanimously elected by the membership.

The president provided an overview of the proposed bylaw changes. The proposed amended bylaws have been posted on the website for several months. On motion and second, the membership approved the bylaw amendments.

There were no additional reports or announcements. After discussion on various topics, the president adjourned the meeting at 8:44 p.m.

I Love Living in Eureka Valley

I live on Hartford Street in Eureka Valley, aka The Castro, with my partner, John Kruse, and our 4-year-old daughters, Zola and Veronica Kruschel. Hartford Street is a quiet little residential street just steps away from the hustle of Castro Street and the bustle of Market Street. I love living here.

We have a great mix of businesses in the neighborhood. Take a walk with me and I'll tell you my personal faves. I buy birthday cards at Wild Card! I'm addicted to the Morning Rush coffee beans at the Castro Cheesery. I love the Castro Theater. Its marquis defines the neighborhood, and I'm thrilled that it has begun mixing first-run movies into its fare, giving me yet another reason to patronize it. When I need hardware to hang a picture of Veronica, I head to Cliff's Variety. I'm happy that both A Different Light Bookstore and Books, Inc. carry "Papa and Daddy and Babies in Alaska", the book I wrote about how John and I became fathers to our daughters. I window shop for real estate porn at Herth Realty. I bank at Wells Fargo, the most gay-friendly bank I've ever been in. We get takeout at Thaihouse Express. Buffalo Whole Food satisfies my Barbara's Cheese Puffs and Reed's Ginger Brew cravings. The underwear I buy at Injeanious Lounge makes me feel sexy. I feel virtuous shopping at Under One Roof. I just bought a nightlight of the Castro Theater there. I shop for groceries at Delano's – I love their cold cuts. (I wish Trader Joe's had been welcomed in the Duboce Triangle, and I hope one day to see a fruit and vegetable store closer than Church Street or 16th and Mission.) Sumi is great for an intimate dinner. The burritos at Zapata are quick and yummy. Walgreen's is great for buying a box of Sponge Bob Squarepants bandages to make Zola's booboo feel better. The croque madame at A Bon Port is an indulgence I grant myself. At Superstar Video, I rent movies the whole family can enjoy, as well as ones just for John and me. The roast turkey sandwich with swiss cheese at Rossi's Deli makes a good lunch. I'm sad when a restaurant I like closes – farewell Ararat – and excited to see what takes its place – welcome Poesia. I'm glad to see some businesses go – bu-bye Wolf Camera, but I don't understand why some storefronts are vacant so long, and wish they would be filled.

I love seeing children in the neighborhood. My block has ten, with more on the way. I love seeing multi-culti tutti-frutti families coexisting with traditional ones. Toto, we're not in Kansas! Walk by the playground at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center on a weekend and burst with pride at the diversity.

I'm glad to live in a neighborhood in which neighbors take care of their property. I like to stop and smell the roses in front of Al and Govinder's house. Don't pick them! I'm heartened that my neighbors care enough to make a difference. When The Cafe wanted to remodel and expand, my neighbors got the EVPA involved and made sure that The Cafe did it in a way that respected the interests of the community, as well as the interests of The Cafe. My neighbors recently formed the Hartford Street Neighborhood Association. We're currently fighting MUNI's plans to run the 37 bus line down our street. Aside from that, I like MUNI because it makes it so easy for me to visit other neighborhoods. The F-line, especially, makes me smile. It's an amusement park ride with a purpose.