Saturday’s Celebration of the Restored Esmeralda Slides Was a Best of Bernal Moment

Heroes of the Esmeralda Slide Park: From left, mosaic artists Jesse Medina and Rachel Rodi, project organizers Nancy Windensheim and Joan Carson

In case you missed it, last Saturday’s celebration of the re-restored Esmeralda Slide Park and its new sidewalk mosaic was a lovely moment of Bernal at its best.  About 50 Berenal neighbors showed up to admire the now-gorgeous little park, along with representatives from The City’s Department of Public Works, who did much to help make it happen.

Artist Rachel Rodi, the creator of the fabulous new sidewalk mosaic, was also on hand as a special celebrity guest.

Some may recall that Dianne Feinstein zipped down the slides when the slide park first opened in 1979:

DiFi didn’t show up to reprise that feat on Saturday, but Bernal neighbor Michael Nolan was on hand to complete the circle between past and present. Neighbor Michael, of course, helped organize the effort to create the Esmeralda slides in the late 1970s:

Esmerlada slide crew in 1978. That’s Neighbor Michael Nolan, circled on the left.

And here’s Neighbor Michael on June 24, 2017, braving life, limb, and potential liability by plunging down the slide like the true daredevil he is:

Of course, the slide is all about motion and laughter, so here’s a little video that captures a moment on Saturday that will hopefully be repeated tens of thousands of times in years to come. Turn the volume up to hear the sweetest sound any neighborhood can possibly experience:

PHOTOS and VIDEO: By Telstar Logistics

Saturday: Let’s Celebrate the Restoration of Esmeralda Slide Park

The secret slides on Esmeralda have always been a symbol of community spirit and cooperation in Bernal Heights, and the recent re-restoration of the slides and the surrounding park was no exception.

Spearheaded by Neighbors Joan and Nancy with support from a diverse cast of Bernal neighbors and City officials, the Esmeralda Slide Park now looks better than ever, and the installation of “The Locator,” a gorgeous new mosaic funded by donations from our community, was the crowning detail.

So now it’s time to celebrate. Neighbor Joan shares this invitation to a celebration happening on Saturday morning, June 24:

“The Locator” mosaic wouldn’t have been created if it hadn’t been for your generous donations. So, once again, thank you.

Saturday, June 24, 2017
10:00 am to noon
Esmeralda Plaza (Esmeralda Stairs @ Winfield Street)

Come celebrate Our Collective Achievement!

Rachel Rodi (the tile artist) & her team, along with Nancy Windesheim & Joan Carson (the designers) will be on hand to answer any questions. We hope many of you can attend. Over 100 donors contributed to this project through GoFundMe.

Although the City did not fund the tile installation, Director Nuru graciously permitted it’s construction on public property. He and his key staff were very supportive of this project and will be present to share in it’s celebration.

Please RSVP to by June 22

City will provide refreshments based upon RSVP replies.

PHOTOS: Top, The Locator mosaic, installed at the Emeralda Slide Park. Photo via Neighbor Joan. Below, restored slides, via Google

Thursday: Come to Cortland for the Seventh Annual Summer Solstice Stroll

It’s the longest day of the year, which of course can only mean it’s also time for the fabulous Summer Solstice Stroll, sponsored by the local merchants from the Bernal Business Alliance. It’s happening along Cortland Avenue  on Thursday evening, June 22 from 6-9 pm, and all the Proud Citizens of Bernalwood are invited.

Added bonus: This year our Cortlandia merchants are also raising funds to bring back the lapsed tradition of Fiesta on the Hill.

The Bernal Business Alliance shares the details:

Join us for the 7th annual Summer Solstice Stroll, this Thursday, June 22nd, from 6 to 9 pm, and enjoy a taste of Bernal!

Sample free beverages and treats along the Cortland Corridor as you stroll with your purchase of a commemorative glass mug and special Bernal Heights lapel pin, designed by local artist, Reuben Rude:

The mug and pin are $20, and all proceeds go to the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center to help bring back Fiesta on the Hill in October 2017!

Mugs can be purchased before or during the stroll at the following locations:

  • The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
  • Bare Bottle Brewery
  • Good Life Grocery
  • The Epicurean Trader
  • Healthy Spirits

With each mug you’ll also receive a punch ticket with all the Bernal Business participants for you to visit. Check out the BBA website for a full listing.

So start your summer of love right and raise a glass to our wonderful Bernal Heights neighborhood! Find laughter, love and discoveries along the corridor that is Cortland.

With thanks from your local Bernal Business Alliance

PHOTO: 2017 Summer Solstice Stroll poster on display at Pinhole Coffee, by Telstar Logistics

Is Another Coyote Now Visiting Bernal Heights?

The original Bernal Coyote playing on Bernal Hill a few days ago. Photo by Janet Kessler

Yesterday Bernalwood received several reports of a confused-looking coyote spotted in parts of Bernal Heights where coyotes are not usually seen. The reports described a coyote walking on Mission Street near the intersection with Cortland, and on Cortland near Anderson in front of Fit Bernal Fit.

Of course, those are very different locations from the usual stomping grounds of the Bernal Coyote, a female coyote who lives rather stylishly in the wilds around the summit of Bernal Hill.

Did yeterday’s sightings involve the same coyote? Or has another coyote arrived in our Bernal lands? To find out, Bernalwood reached out to Janet Kessler, the San Francisco coyote whisperer who runs the  wonderful Coyote Yipps website, for insight.

Janet tells Bernalwood:

There were sightings of a coyote going down Ellsworth yesterday, and a few minutes later, at 7:30 am, someone drove up to tell me that that they had seen a coyote going down Bocana.  Although I have not seen this new coyote, I can confirm that it is not the *one* on the hill, as I had just seen ours, and there is no way she could have run that far, and back, to be playing ball on the hill about one minute later.

These two coyotes’ paths did not cross this morning. I don’t know if they’ve met. But, I can tell you that over the last three days, *the* Bernal Coyote has been extremely excited and happy, playing unceasingly, and, unfortunately, even chasing cars (though it appears to be for simply the thrill and for fun rather than due to feeding). Her car-chasing had been curtailed almost entirely, I believe as a result of our efforts to clean food off of the street and talking to everyone about the detriments of feeding and being friendly.

The Bernal Hill coyote’s excitement over the last few days could be a result of another coyote’s arrival  — I can’t think of a another reason for the sudden change in her behavior. Or, it could just be a coincidence. Bernal neighbors, please keep us posted if you see another coyote around the hill.

Wednesday: A Visual History of Bernal Heights in the Movies

1968: The chase begins on Army Street just east of Bryant, in Bullitt

On Wednesday, June 21 at 7 pm, come to the Bernal library for a presentation hosted by Bernal History Project’s Precita Park/St. Anthony’s expert, Ben Valdez. Ben has compiled some seldom-seen shots of bygone Bernal from family home movies and more familiar sources.

The collections includes excerpts from The Ordeal of Patty Hearst, a 1979 made-for-TV movie that actually used the Symbionese Liberation Army safe house at 288 Precita to film in (and which startled Ben’s grandparents, who used to live at that address in the 1960s). You’ll see Better Call Saul‘s Jonathan Banks as Bill Harris, jogging along Army Street and buying fish from a street vendor on Precita before being arrested by FBI agent Dennis Weaver for his role in Hearst’s kidnapping.

We’ll also have footage of the 1974 Streets of San Francisco episode “The Most Deadly Species,” in which guest star Brenda Vaccaro plays a hit woman who seduces Michael Douglas and gets up to no good in St. Anthony’s Church.

And let’s not forget the famous chase scene in the Steve McQueen 1968 classic movie Bullitt.

Ben will also show some family home movies of weddings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Anyone who has Bernal-related home movies or other clips to suggest is invited to bring them on a USB stick or disk to show at the meeting.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. sharp in the downstairs meeting room at the Bernal branch library (500 Cortland); turn left at the bottom of the stairs. As always, it’s free and open to all.

Ronen Says She Supports Market-Rate Housing Plan With Cole Hardware Store

Clarifying her earlier remarks about a development plan for the now-empty lot where  Bernal’s Cole Hardware store stood before a devastating 2016 fire, D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen tells Bernalwood she supports a developer’s proposal to build eight market-rate apartments on the site if the plan will bring a Cole Hardware store back to Mission Street.

Last week, Bernalwood confirmed Cole Hardware was working with the property owner to open a new store on the ground floor of the proposed building at 3310-3312 Mission. However, earlier this week the San Francisco Examiner reported that Ronen wanted to use the site for 100 percent affordable housing. “My hope for that entire block is that we create affordable housing to replace the affordable housing that was lost,” Ronen told the Examiner.

Though the new building would be too small to trigger San Francisco’s inclusionary affordable housing requirements, controversy over the type of housing to be built at 3310-3312 Mission would throw the future of the project into doubt and likely delay the reopening of a Cole Hardware store indefinitely.

In a follow-up conversation with Bernalwood, Ronen clarified her remarks to the Examiner. Ronen said she originally hoped to secure the property at 3310-3312 Mission for use as 100 percent subsidized-affordable housing, but after the lot was sold to a private developer, that option was off the table.

Now, Ronen says, she has been in contact with the owner of the property at 3310-3312 Mission, and she is enthusiastic about the plan to build market-rate housing there because it will also secure a long-term future for Cole Hardware.

“Yes, I do support this project,” Ronen said.

“My top priorities are affordable housing and legacy businesses,” she said. “I’m supportive of this project because the developer wants to bring back Cole Hardware with a 20-year lease. As long as the market-rate project brings back that legacy business, I support it.”

When asked if she would continue to support the project if it faced opposition during San Francisco’s famously complex planning and permitting process, Supervisor Ronen said, “The only way I would have a say in any say in this is if it came up for review under under a [California Environmental Quality Act] appeal, and I can’t see a CEQA issue that would make any sense for this project.”

This Sunday, June 18 will mark the one-year anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Cole Hardware building. More than 50 people were displaced by the blaze, which destroyed or damaged several buildings at the southwest corner of of 29th and Mission Streets. San Francisco Fire Department investigators concluded the fire likely began in a trash bin stored outside an apartment above the former Cole Hardware store.

IMAGE: Rendering of proposed market-rate housing at 3310-3312 Mission Street. Photos via SocketSite; composite illustration created by Bernalwood