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Kearstin Krehbiel and the Excelsior

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The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour o' the nabes, led 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 Kearstin Krehbiel, Executive Director of San Francisco Beautiful.

[Untitled via Julie aka Rudha-an]

Nabe: The Excelsior

Tell us something we don't know about the Excelsior: We all know that San Francisco is a diverse city, but you really feel the best of that in my neighborhood. Once I heard 5 languages on my bus ride home. I've looked it up, and in fact the Excelsior is the most culturally diverse of all of the city neighborhoods. Even the streets reflect this diversity as they're named for countries and capitals from around the world. Where else can you stand at the corner of Moscow and Brazil? or Paris and Persia?
Local customs of note: We have some of the most polite recycling thieves in the city. Our manners, when it comes to parking, however are not so good and cars are often found on the sidewalk. Harking back to its not-so-distant rural and agricultural past (my old lady neighbor remembers when my street was first paved!), there are quite a few residents who keep their own chickens and even goats. How's that for city living?! Also, the locals turn out every year for the Excelsior Festival in October, which is a weird and fun mish-mash, just like the neighborhood.

Hidden gems in the Excelsior: Our local library branch has a chess club. We have shiny new separated bike lanes (delightfully fixie-free). We have tremendous views and sunny spots. We have a world-class soccer and softball fields, a golf course, and a skate park. Also, our dive bars are better than yours.

Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not? well, why not? For the most part, the neighbors are awesome and do things like raise $50,000 for bleachers in the park, but then there are not-so-awesome neighbors, too - like the guys who stole those bleachers a few weeks later (but who knows where they were from). When I first moved into the Excelsior, my neighbors painted my fence, and I felt like I knew everybody on the block within the first week. I've never lived in such a friendly neighborhood.

Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? Getting friends to come over for dinner – or even locate the Excelsior on a map – requires a Herculean effort. I can be in my office downtown in 30 minutes flat but oftentimes have trouble convincing friends to hop on BART (maybe they don't like my cooking?).

The final word on the Excelsior: The Excelsior is vibrant and growing. People might not know about it now, but in 5 years you'll be looking for a house on the block!