Hayes Valley

This Can't Be Good

Bike Share Expansion Into Mission & Castro Delayed Due to Vendor Bankruptcy

Following the fairly successful rollout of Bay Area Bike Share last summer in downtown areas, SFMTA was poised to expand the bike-sharing program to residential neighborhoods earlier this year.  However, that expansion has been delayed until the fall “at the soonest” as Bixi, the company that provides the hardware and software for BABS, has filed for bankruptcyStreetsblog reports:

“Our main technology and software provider is actually for sale,” said [SFMTA bike-share program manager Heath Maddox]. “We should know what becomes of that sale later this month. Hopefully, it’ll be bought by our current operations and maintenance provider [Alta Bicycle Share], and they could just move, without a hitch, and once again fire up production.”

Maddox said after the sale and re-organization is completed, “it takes five to six months to produce the equipment once it’s ordered.”

The immediate future of the program looks pretty grim, as Maddox noted the fall expansion would only happen if “everything went very well.”  Of course, the local bike thief business community might bring bike-share to the neighborhoods soon enough.

[Photo: Streetsblog]


Chip In for the KitTea Cat Cafe, A Warm Place to Get Catty

While the Crowdtilt fundraising effort got off to a bit of a rough start, you can now pitch in a few or a few hundred dollars and help create create KitTea, “one of the first, well, probably the first cat cafe in the United States,” which co-founder Courtney Hatt hopes to open in Hayes Valley or the Mission.

The cafe will be using an ongoing reservation system to keep the space manageably calm for the fostered felines, so now’s you’re chance to book early. Fellow co-founder Benjamin Stingle told the Business Times that the team is hoping to have the first month or two booked in advance.

Look, people, America needs to close the cat cafe gap with China and Russia or we’re all doomed to globadorable irrelevancy. Vladimir Putin is clearly crazy, don’t think he isn’t coming for your kittehs next.  If the good people of San Francisco can’t collectively come up with a $50,000, interest-free loan to sell attachment-free companionship to desperately lonely cat people, we may have already lost.

You have thirty days. Make the right choice.

The Buck Loses Its Lease

The Buck Tavern, the mid-Market progressive hangout and all around killer bar owned by Chris Daly, has lost its lease and will be closing up at the end of the month.

Daly himself posted the announcement with a nautical-themed Halloween party announcementt, scheduled for Oct. 31st:

We've lost our lease, so let's set sail!

Being cryptic as always, Daly isn't really explaining what is happening, but posted two comments:

Even though we lost our lease, we like to think that we're embarking upon an even more epic journey. (Don't forget your nautical attire.)


If you asked me last week, I would have told you that we were selling. Today, all I can say for sure is 10/31 is our last day. Oh, and we're going to have a great party that night! (And of course, wear your nautical attire, because this ship is sailing!)

Basically, he's really pushing this “on a boat” thing, even though that video is, like, so four years ago.  Is this some sort of dig at the America's Cup (probably) and the city's eclectic community being pushed out (maybe)?  Either way, the Buck is done, and that probably means one less dive serving decently cheap food.

And where are we supposed to watch the election returns now?

[Photo by Jon Phillips | via Patrick Conners]

A Politically Scandalous Dog Talent Competition in Hayes Valley

Joe the Plumber Doggie (he didn't win).

Along with Supervisor Christina Olague, a cute couple from Dallas, and a bunch of degenerate soda-swilling 6-year-olds, I had the privileged of ranking over 20 of San Francisco's most effing adorable dogs in SF SPCA's DOGMA dog talent competition Sunday afternoon.

The competition was a lot of what you'd expect: dogs playing dead when shot, ample handshakes and rollings over, and dogs in cute costumes.  However, there were two outliers: Biscuit and Fiona.

Biscuit was an fluffy, happy-go-lucky Pomeranian whose similarity to Boo was difficult to overlook.  Biscuit wasn't all looks either, he (she? it?) could also kick a mini tennis ball into a goal—without looking—and do a bunch of jumps through her owner's arms and legs.  An impressive, yet clearly rehearsed, routine:

Fiona similarly killed it, but wasn't the looker like Biscuit.  After doing some handshakes and other boring-ass tricks, Fiona's owner sneezed, prompting the dog to go fetch tissues for her runny nose.  I was immediately taken in, as the dog played at my “slobbering mutt that fetches me beer” fantasy.  But it didn't end there, Fiona then started playing a mini piano:

Both dogs clearly destroyed the field and deserved the top slots, but there was a problem: all 8 judges gave both dogs perfect scores.  There was only one way to settle this…

A dog-off.

After deciding a dog fight would be inhumane and beneath the standards of the SPCA, we had both Fiona and Biscuit get back on stage and repeat their perfect performances, giving each judge an opportunity to pick a winner.

Now, it is worth noting that Mayor Ed Lee-appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague was always the first person to rank an animal during the regular season.  Despite never giving an animal “1”, the lowest score possible, even when a pet froze on stage and the 6-year-olds said “pass” and threw down 1s, her scores generally seemed in line with everyone else.  Not artificially inflated or anything suspect like that, just honest appraisals of the mutt's talents.

So when it came down to making final decisions, I was really interested to see how a politician up for election would rank the dogs.  In the dog-off, Biscuit and Fiona threw down perfect performances yet again.  So, without any blunders to make the decision easy for the judges, we were left up to our own gut.  Would it be an adorable athlete or the tortured artist with compassion for the sick?

In a shocking twist, the judges voted in reverse, leaving Supervisor Olague to vote last.  Biscuit picked up an early lead in the polls, racking up a couple of checks.  Then Fiona received some crucial votes to keep her in the running, but one of the 6-year-olds voted for Biscuit, giving the furball a lock on the win.

When the ballot was passed to Olague for a largely symbolic final vote, she began to throw her support behind Fiona.  But, after looking at the depth of support for Biscuit, she changed her vote and marked one off for the sporty Pomeranian, rubberstamping the 6-year-olds decision.

In psychology, they call this phenomenon “groupthink”, a pull towards conformity in decision-making situations that subverts critical thinking and appraisal of alternative solutions.  In politics, they call this something much, much less flattering.

Anyway, Biscuit was goddamn adorable and this marks my one and only visit to Hayes Valley in the year 2012.

It's a Taco-mergency

My life is a perpetual taco-mergency.  If it were not for Farolito and their 3am closing time, I'd probably have bleed out along Mission Street or outside of Pop's years ago.  But the problem with brick and mortar bean and cheese hospitals is you still need to make your way there, which is difficult if Jameson or a stray bullet has rendered your limbs useless.  But a taco truck pulling up to Bender's at 75 miles an hour with the red and white flashing and the siren song of tortillas and diarrhea echoing against Victorian architecture?  That, my friends, is a game changer.

An additional Twitter search indicates that this taco truck is parked outside of Alamo Sq. for the filming of “Five Year Engagement.”  Is this $2-savior-on-wheels a cheap film prop or an new San Francisco establishment?  If you're in the know, do clue us in.

[Tablehopper Tweet, NY Theater Tweet]

Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco

Neighborhoodr clued me in to this awesome new set of San Francisco maps today. Started by a couple of Berkeley students, Visualizing Mental Maps attempts to map how San Franciscans feel about their neighborhoods & the city, and the results are really interesting. From the site: 

The Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco project taps into San Francisco residents' perceptions of the city and its neighborhoods, which aren't always reflected in the geography of a street map. The first part of the project was a qualitative investigation in which we interviewed residents and asked them to draw pictures of their internal images or “mental maps” of the neighborhoods they lived in and of San Francisco. The second part was the creation of visualizations informed by the qualitative research, resulting in this atlas of mental maps.
One of my favorite parts of their project is Storymaps, where you can hover above a map of SF neighborhoods and see how the study participants characterize them. 
I like the one participant who says about the Marina, “Y'know, its not really necessary. I don't really need this.”
The map of hills and pedestrian barriers is also a cool reminder of how San Francisco's unique topography dictates neighborhood boundaries and how we move about the city on foot/bike. I've frequently argued that San Francisco really isn't all that hilly, but I think the only reason I feel that way is because I've become so adept at avoiding the hills, especially when biking. When I lived on Fulton & Stanyan, I'd regularly ride a mile out of my way to avoid that steep two block hill on Stanyan between Fell and Fulton. Because I'm lazy. 
I just wanted to share this, but you should definitely have a look for yourself because there's waaay more interesting data and pictures on their site than I could possibly hope to unpack in a single blog post. These students really did an amazing job of mapping the spirit of the city in a way that traditional cartography never could. And don't forget to check out the Gallery, featuring drawings of SF maps and neighborhoods from study participants. This one looks like a dinosaur!