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The People's Guide: North Beach and Telegraph Hill

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New feature alert: The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. In today's edition, North Beach/ Telegraph Hill dweller (and Curbed SF regular) Sal Towse puts in her two cents' worth. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone.

["Four Colorful Visitors" courtesy Flickr photog complexify (David Gilford)]

Name: Sal Towse

Nabe: Telegraph Hill/North Beach

Q: Local customs of note?

A: The Telegraph Hill Dwellers have been fiercely protecting the hill for the past fifty years and more. Woe betide anyone who wants to build anything or start anything or stop anything that THD hasn't approved. There's a vacant lot with stunning views south off the Filbert Steps on your way from Varennes up to Coit Tower that has been for sale for years. I think potential buyers are scared away by the fact they may pay a fortune for the piece of dirt and then never be able to build because the neighbors might (and probably will) object to whatever plans they have for the property. His nibs tells me the "cottage" on the property may have historical significance too, especially if you'd rather nothing was built there. Neighbors really do hang out at the coffee shops and do that neighborly kaffeeklatch thing, make plans, plot rebellions. (Caffe Trieste, Caffe Greco, Caffe Roma, & Co.)

Q: Tell us something we don't know about your 'hood:

A: We're relatively sunny and warm. The fog that comes in through the Golden Gate usually takes a north-easterly turn at Pier 39 and heads toward Vallejo rather than smothering our fair hill.

Q: Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not . . . well, why not?

A: We live on the east side of Telegraph Hill, off the Filbert Steps. We are pretty much sheltered from "rotten neighbors" by the fact the nearest street is Montgomery and you MUST be willing to run your purchases and groceries down the steps and then haul yourself back up the steps whenever you want to go anywhere. Or do the reverse if you're coming home from the Sansome end of the steps. The steps really do weed out prima donnas and snobs, leaving people who care about the place and their neighbors and what's happening in the big ol' world out there. We've got your parrot huggers and your tree huggers and your save-energy folks and your pick-up-litter folks (that would be me). Sometimes they care too much about issues that don't matter at all to me and cause a ruckus, but c'est la vie— at least so far.

Q: Inflate the bubble, or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your
"perfect" neighborhood? If your nabe is an underdog, what's being overlooked?

A: The nabe is not cheap to live in. Parking is a particular pain. There is none. Really. I was driving home once and saw a large moving van double-parked on Union Street so I swung around it only to see, as I was pulling back into the lane, that some carpet layers had parked it to block the street to save them from getting run over. The guys were out in the street cutting the carpet they needed, prior to installation. We lease parking in an apartment building three blocks away and walk or take public transit to get around. People heading this way would be advised to leave the car home.

Another drawback? The world seems to descend (and a not so pretty or quiet-spoken world at that) on weekends, attracted by the clubs on Broadway. Spare me the rowdies and yahoos on Broadway on weekend nights. Bimbo's 365 and the Cobb Comedy Club down on Columbus seem to draw a different clientèle.

Q: What's the final word on your nabe

A: Drawbacks aside, it is nice to see visitors wandering around taking pictures of the sights and the parrots and Coit Tower and the neighborhood. They tell us we live in a beautiful place. We do. Yahoo!Local says there are 1082 restaurants within a one mile radius of where I live. What's not to like?