Bakery’s Table Tiff Shows Divide over Nature of Noriega Street
Two ideas about the nature of San Francisco’s outer Sunset District, and what it should be, are clashing as the popular new Devil’s Teeth Baking Company seeks a permit for sidewalk seating on Noriega Street.
Although the bakery wants to provide just two tables and four seats outside its storefront at 3876 Noriega St., next-door neighbors Yefim and Vita Zeltserman say those four seats represent a big change from the neighborhood they thought they were getting when they bought their second-floor flat just to the west.
“This home is our first home in our new life,” said Yefim Zeltserman, explaining that he and his wife are retired and bought their flat after living in the Richmond District for about 20 years.
While they liked the Richmond, Vita said, the opportunity to buy property in an area they saw as beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and close to the ocean with its abundant fresh air was ideal for the couple in their later years. But with several windows in their home overlooking Noriega Street — including those in their bedroom and bathroom, as they showed a reporter on Thursday — they are worried that the sidewalk tables will bring smells and noise into their home.
“We don’t want any smell in our window, we don’t want any noise,” Yefim said.
The couple also said they are concerned that crumbs from people eating outside will attract pigeons and the birds’ inevitable waste.
To Devil’s Teeth owner Hilary Passman, the Zeltsermans’ concept of that stretch of Noriega as a quiet residential area is out of whack with its official designation as a neighborhood commercial zone.
“Their main complaint seems to be that they want to live in an quiet retirement home,” she said.
But Passman says she think her bakery serves a previously unfilled need in the neighborhood, where she and her family also live.
“The block of Noriega that we’re on has been designated as a neighborhood commercial cluster,” with ground-floor businesses in nearly every building on the block, Passman noted. “They moved into a business area and now they’re unhappy about it.”
There is a cafe on the other side of Noriega Street, and within about a block are two convenience stores, a produce market, a bar, several restaurants, a church, two beauty salons, a taqueria, a pet-supply store and a surfboard shop.
In fact, Passman said, she is surprised there has been any objection to her business at all, given that the City has granted her permits to operate and that the area is clearly zoned for small commercial uses. She also noted that the Zeltsermans knew before they bought their property that a bakery would be operating next door — something Yefim acknowledged, though he said they thought it would just be a coffee shop without any on-site baking or outside seats.
Passman said she has collected about 700 signatures from customers and neighbors on a petition in support of her business.
Another nearby resident also has objected to the permit application for sidewalk seating. The Ocean Beach Bulletin contacted via email a person who identified himself as that resident, but he declined a request to be interviewed until after deadline.
On Wednesday, June 1, the Department of Public Works will hold a public hearing to consider the permit application for sidewalk seating at Devil’s Teeth Baking Company. The hearing for the application officially known as Order No. 179,290 is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Room 400 of City Hall. Anyone who wishes to send written testimony or an opinion can send it by email before 5 p.m. May 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the hearing, visit DPW’s page on public hearings.
Passman said she plans to appeal if her permit request is turned down. Yefim Zeltserman said he’s not yet sure what he will do if the permit is granted.