Comment Du Jour: “The People in Noe Valley Have a Fully Realized Liberal Fantasy”

This comment du jour comes to us from “James” in our most recent Cole Valley vs. Noe Valley Battle Royale, where he provides his explanation of why Noe Valley is the way it is:

Noe Valley has the feeling of being a small suburban village unto itself and this has been the case for a long while. It feels very similar to places like Mill Valley and Palo Alto (which, i admit, some people consider quite different in themselves).

Having lived here [in Noe Valley] for years, I will admit that there is certainly more of a ‘car culture’ here. Obviously there are an endless number of families who made the very self-conscious decision to move here. The suburban quality is not primarily caused by Noe Valley’s feeling of being physically removed from the city, though. I think it is more caused by the feeling that everyone in Noe Valley is deeply focused on the practical going-ons of their individual every day life. For instance, you are more likely to see young people off on their own in Cole Valley, just sitting in a cafe with a book. In Noe Valley, on the other hand, one is more likely to see a group of women having coffee, with their local jogging group, with their babies, with their jogging strollers, on the way to a play dates, or shopping, and then yoga, etc.

What I mean to say is that while Noe Valley feels removed from city life, that such a feeling may be just a manifestation of this suburban mindset on the neighborhood’s residents’ parts. They may not want to live entirely ‘in the city’ in every sense of the term. They want to be near a lot of things (which Noe Valley certainly is, and not at all far away from great things as some posts here have stated), without sacrificing the feeling that their neighborhood is ‘more home’ in a certain sense than the rest of the city.

So, the people in Noe Valley simply have a fully realized liberal fantasy. The ‘charm’ of a tightly controlled social environment, while being near all of those other parts of the city that they can’t quite bear to give up…

Well said James! Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading theFrontSteps.

12 thoughts on “Comment Du Jour: “The People in Noe Valley Have a Fully Realized Liberal Fantasy””

  1. what a bunch of total bullshit. to some, NV can be all of what James said. to others, it can be none of that.
    lots of people besides a “group of women” hang out in cafes. not everyone jogs with a little rug rat in the Aprica stroller. not everyone is straight.
    not everyone is into the car culture. we do walk here,(a lot) too.
    NV feels no different than the Castro, than Glen Park, than Pacific Hts. they are all urban neighborhoods within a larger city environs.

  2. “NV feels no different than the Castro, than Glen Park, than Pacific Hts. they are all urban neighborhoods within a larger city environs.”

    Huh? More like each of these neighborhoods has a different feel than the next.

  3. I think what noearch meant is that Noe is like any other neighborhood: impossible to define by a single paragraph. There are plenty of us in Noe without kids, dogs, a Prius or time to hang out at a coffee shop. We don’t all ride the Google bus to work every day.

    James’s comment kicks butt, though.

  4. no, I think what I really meant is that I disagree with the narrow view James seems to have of Noe Valley.

    what the hell is a “fully realized liberal fantasy”? “tightly controlled social environment”?

    It comes off as his version of Noe Valleyans would prefer NV to be an exclusive, gated, community; all the freshness and mall mentality of Walnut Creek, nice and white, and rich, and hetero; without having to deal with dogshit, cars on the sidewalk, grafitti, etc. After all, those things are so annoying, arent they. Maybe if I just ignore them and go sip my triple latte they will all go away. The urban grittiness that even, god forbid, exists in NV is part of our urban culture.

    I’m paraphrasing him, but I think he comes off as elitist and arrogant.

  5. Hey Noearch, I really did not mean to reduce Noe Valley’s entire population into such limited terms in the least.

    Of course Noe Valley is a sizable neighborhood with a wide variety of residents in its arsenal. It’s not all families, it’s not all straight, it’s not all white.

    But in your notably literal reading of my previous comment, you seemed to miss out on the more subtle nuances that were present in my reading. What I intended to communicate was simply that the common Noe Valleyan may have chosen to live there because of its more independent quality. After all, it’s not just ‘like any other neighborhood’. Rather, it attracts a certain kind of resident.

    Far from the Walnut Creek comparison you make, my comment noted the fact that Noe Valley appreciates the city that surrounds it, yet has clearly also created an a kind of urban-village atmosphere for itself.

    People move to Noe Valley, at least in part, because it is a neighborhood with a focus on community. It’s not a “gated community” by any means. I think that it actually stakes its reputation somewhere near the fine line between being a self-enclosed community of committed localist residents and that of a neighborhood that does not intend to exclude a whole city of people (including those residents that are not white, rich, or even necessarily liberal). In short, Noe Valley’s identity is deeply attached/tied to values that are considered typically “San Francisco” in a very self aware (and not necessarily unhealthy) manner.

    Think about the Noe Valley Community Benefit District (one of the few of such examples in the city) that independently keeps 24th Street clean. Think of Noe Strolls, the local stroller group that is focused around a weekday schedule for those who may not work a typical 9-5 day, and often for those with children. Think of the Harvest Festival. These are the things that attract people to this quaint, if not somewhat self-enclosed social environment. Here, one necessarily chooses (and forsakes) the more anonymous elements of a city existence for a neighborhood that maintains a unified and friendly public demeanor.

    These comments are not detractions for the neighborhood. They just speak to a changing San Francisco as an entire city in which many residents have a refreshed set of San Francisco values (ones that maintain an attitude of tolerance and acceptance for this diverse city, while not sacrificing their own social ideals in the process).

    But, after all, this neighborhood has been attracting those who work on the Peninsula for at least a decade now (back to the late 90’s tech boom). If it has community tendencies that resemble that of the suburbs, its changing population could certainly bear some of the responsibility.

    Perhaps Noearch’s reading has in fact been too geared towards reducing the suburbs into a few criticisms that are of an aesthetic nature, while not truly recognizing that the people who live in Mill Valley or Palo Alto are not faceless drones who only want to protect an affluent, straight, white style of behavior. But that, in fact, they may be more like (eek) those who live in San Francisco that Noearch is willing to recognize.

  6. Oh, btw, I meant “than Noearch is willing to reacognize” instead of “that Noearch is willing to recognize” in my final sentence above.

  7. @ james- I’m not so sure what you said…but you said a loT.

    I guess I dont feel NV is that different from the Castro or Glen Park..both are village like, yet retain a respect and cohesiveness with the larger city. what’s the diff?

    The NV CBD doesn’t do that much,in my opinion. The cute little hanging baskets are not really sustainable..they are just, well, cute. sort of what you might see at a mall. they clean the sidewalks now and then, but I still see a LOT of dog shit on 24th st.

    The Harvest Festival is well..very Martha Stewart..everything so earthy, handmade and precious. Doesnt reflect much of the larger city. The Castro St. Fair has been around for 30 years now and offers so much more, crafts for sure, but also, city services and tons of political and social services..reflecting the city.

    As a homeowner here in NV now for 24 years, I’ve watched the changes, but it’s not that different. Other than the stroller brigade who seem to feel entitled to control the entire sidewalk, NV is not a bad place to live.

  8. I feel as if the latest comment from Noearch only substantiates what she was opposing earlier.

    Noearch admits to the suburban-style values that are entailed in the Noe Valley Community Benefit District and in events like the Harvest Festival. Perhaps Noearch’s vision of a changing Noe Valley may be more understated than that of someone looking at it with a fresher perspective.

    No one ever said that Noe Valley was a bad place to live. Graffiti and dog feces do not render life in Noe Valley urban or unurban in my mind. Certainly, the whole city sees such things. But a few pieces of an urban existence do not change the ethos of an entire neighborhood’s overall values.

    If we look to the details—and that’s the purpose of these debates, looking at the details of any given point of discussion, digging deeper, etc—we will find huge differences in each neighborhood in San Francisco. Noe Valley is the family neighborhood with a high cost of living and a thorough gentrification process in place. Glen Park is less so in both respects. And if you cannot see the difference between the community values of Noe Valley and the Castro…well, let’s just say that they basically speak for themselves.

    [Editor’s note: Important not to take the bait from Noearch (aka UrbanSF7). He is known to ruffle feathers. Take his comments with a grain of salt.]

  9. james- all good points I suppose, just differing perspectives. of course, the trouble with words typed on screen, one does not always get the inflection or subtlety. my “not a bad place” comment should be read as in “not bad…” when people say..”that’s not too bad..” get the drift?

    I appreciate the time you took to get your opinion out.

    also…I’m a he, not a she..although good drag often can change ones persona for the evening.:)

    as for the editor- he prefers things sugar coated and scripted, which can often result in BORING and tasteful commentary, lacking substance. that’s not my style. you may take my comments any way you like.

  10. Wow. So much has changed since this post. A whole different story now. I’m resident of Noe Valley for over 25 years — it’s changed more in the last 6 years than ever before. I hope Noe Valley keeps it’s charm, but I have to say … it’s all hoity-toity now.

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