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The People's Guide: Matt Baume and Microhood Saint Mary's Heights

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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. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This week, we welcome Matt Baume; writer and news photographer.

[By night via Matt Baume]

Nabe: Saint Mary's Heights, the formless void between the Upper Haight, the Inner Richmond, USF, and Golden Gate Park's Raccoon Hollow.

Tell us something we don't know about Saint Mary's Heights? There's a little diamond-shaped flower bed at the Northeastern-most entrance to Golden Gate Park, tended by a delightfully sprightly lady of a certain age who lives nearby. On many afternoons, you can spot her out there tending to the plants with a chipper little terrier at her side.

Local customs of note: Rowdy house-parties courtesy of USF students; muttering in annoyance whenever a tour bus with a loudspeaker wheezes by; relaxing at the Velo Rouge Cafe; and wandering over to Abacus for top-notch Chinese food amidst inexplicable superhero-themed decor. And nearly every night during the summer you can hear the rough scrape of a lone skateboarder careening down the hill towards Arguello at around 3am.

Hidden gems in Saint Mary's Heights: Tiny front lawns with unusual floral displays. The best one is at the northwest corner of Willard and Golden Gate Ave, and features large planters made out of bathroom porcelain.

Are your neighbors "rotten neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not... well, why not? I love my neighbors. Well, most of them. My favorite is a big tall guy with a big tall dog -- he's like 6'2" and always dresses in black, and the dog is a massive Great Dane the size of a Smart Car. About two years ago, he had a baby (the metal-looking dude, not the dog) and I see him walking the Hound of the Baskervilles and his kid in the morning sometimes. Another year or two and the girl will finally be taller than the dog.

The bad neighbors are, thankfully, a distant memory. They were super-loud and always partying late at night -- like, 2 and 3am. I probably rang the bell to ask them to shut up about a dozen times. Once they started playing a drum kit after midnight in the middle of the week and I heard a lady across the street scream "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME" at the top of her lungs. Not long afterward, they dropped off a letter at all the surrounding houses, apologizing for the noise but also expressing their indignation at how often the neighbors called the police.

Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? Want to walk somewhere to grab a bite to eat after 9pm? WELL I HOPE YOU LIKE MEL'S BECAUSE THAT'S ALL THAT'S OPEN. Also, there's a homeless encampment on the hill in the park adjacent to Saint Mary's Hospital. Its presence waxes and wanes, depending on the weather and C.W. Nevius.

The final word on your neighborhood: I love it here -- just close enough to the busy bits without being stranded in the suburbs of the Richmond. I can ride my bike down to the Panhandle in 30 seconds, which means that I'm 10 minutes from the Lower Haight, 15 minutes from the Castro, and 20 minutes from the Embarcadero. Of course, it's uphill all the way back home.
· The People's Guide [Curbed SF]