Bernal Heights Proposed As Guinea Pig in SFMTA Parking Permit Experiment

Streets initially proposed for a new northwest Bernal RPP zone. Source: SFMTA

Streets initially proposed for a new northwest Bernal RPP zone.  Source: SFMTA

The SFMTA is moving ahead with plans to use Bernal Heights as the site of an experimental Residential Parking Permit (RPP) scheme that will no longer emphasize preventing non-residents from parking on neighborhood streets. Instead, under the new system, the RPP program will also seek to limit the number of cars residents can park on the streets of their own neighborhood.

As previously reported, the SFMTA’s Bernal parking survey showed that roughly 70% of the cars parked on northweast Bernal streets on a typical weekday afternoon likely belong to other Bernal Heights residents. Under SFMTA’s longstanding rules, at least 50% of parked cars would have to belong to non-residents in order to establish a new RPP zone.

northbernalrppwhosecars

Source: SFMTA

Yet after some residents organized a petition drive last year to establish a new RPP zone in northwest Bernal, the SFMTA moved its own goalposts. The 50% non-resident requirement was quietly disregarded, but SFMTA has not explained what the updated criteria for establishing a new RPP zone will be.

Since then, other San Francisco publications have shed more light on SFMTA’s intentions.  In mid-March, the San Francisco Examiner reported:

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is proposing a stricter cap on residential parking permits issued in The City, from four permits to a household to perhaps only two, or maybe limited to one permit per driver.

The cap might make it possible for more parking to be found on San Francisco streets in neighborhoods where visitors cars park in “high rates” and displace residents’ cars.

“I don’t think anyone envisions this as being a silver bullet,” said Hank Willson, parking policy manager at the SFMTA. “But it certainly has the potential to help.”

The permit cap and other restrictions are part of a new pilot being proposed for a section of north Bernal Heights and in the Dogpatch.

Does northwest Bernal Heights have “high rates” of non-resident parking?  We have no idea, because SFMTA has repeatedly declined to specify what the non-resident parking threshold will be under their new rules.

A few days after the Examiner article ran, SF Bay News reported that the proposed Bernal Heights scheme isn’t really focused on non-resident parking. Instead, it mainly targets other Bernal Heights residents:

Kathryn Studwell, SFMTA program manager of the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program, said the transit agency will test out the pilots to measure if they improve parking availability in the neighborhoods and see how residents in the pilots react first before going citywide with the proposals.

One pilot the transit agency is proposing is on the northwest side of Bernal Heights, where the parking occupancy averages around 90 percent on weekdays and weekends, according to SFMTA documents.

The pilot would cap the number of permits from four permits per household to one permit per driver and two permits per household.

In survey conducted by the SFMTA, 95 percent of residents own a private vehicle in the area, but nearly 50 percent of homes do not have off-street parking.

These details were not shared with Bernal Heights residents when the initial petition drive was organized, and several neighbors have written to Bernalwood privately to complain about a SFMTA “bait and switch.” Because of the new, uncertain, and ambiguous rules, they say, the old petition should not be considered valid and a new petition should be required.

SF Bay News adds:

Both Bernal Heights and Dogpatch parking permit pilots would need to go before the SFMTA Board of Directors before staff can implement the pilots.

Studwell said she plans get the Bernal Heights pilot to the Board of Directors for approval sometime in the summer.

Bernal Dads Launch 24-Hour Super-Express Muni Weekend Service

Closed course. Non-union driver. Do not attempt in Bernal Heights.

Those fuel-huffing fathers from Bernal Dads Racing are pleased to announce that as part of their effort to move Muni Forward, Bus 670 will offer  24-hour super-express transit service on a trial basis this weekend,  from 11 am on Saturday, March 25 until 11 am Sunday, March 26.

As every SFMTA enthusiast knows, the Muni Forward program is about making it easier and safer to move around San Francisco. Based on feedback from San Francisco transit riders, the Bernal Dads have taken it upon themselves to explore the possibility of providing  faster, more convenient, and more reliable super-express Muni service anytime, day or night.

To accomplish this, Bus 670, a 1992 Volvo 240 wagon fitted for public transit duty and enhanced with a high(er)-performance BMW engine, has been further upgraded with an advanced photon-emission system that enables the vehicle to turn night into day at the flip of a switch. This video was taken during a recent test of the system:

With those modifications complete, Bus 670 will head to Buttonwillow Raceway Park this weekend to study the feasibility of uninterrupted super-express Muni  service by participating in the Lucky Dog Racing League’s “Doggone 24” competition, a continuous, 24-hour endurance race that will provide a realistic simulation of extended-duration rapid transit operation, driver fatigue-management, and intense maneuvering in wheel-to-wheel San Francisco traffic.

“This Muni Forward infrastructure improvement was funded entirely with loose change the Bernal Dads found beneath the cushions of our sofas, with no support whatsoever from Prop A, the bond measure passed by San Francisco voters in 2014. We have listened to Muni riders and look forward to reducing travel times and increasing high-speed service in a rapidly growing city,” said Neighbor Brandon Powell, Bernal Dads Racing’s Director of Advanced Projects.

To monitor this important public transit experiment and get regular NextMuni updates on lap times and anticipated service intervals, aspiring passengers are encouraged to visit Bernal Dads Racing on Facebook throughout the weekend. And as always, thank you for riding Muni.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Bernal Dads Racing

Bernal Heights Cameos as Neighbors Produce New “Budding Prospects” TV Show

Oh hey. Bernal neighbors (and wife-husband duo) Melissa Zwigoff (Axelrod) and Terry Zwigoff of Montcalm Street are the executive producers of Budding Prospects, a new television show on Amazon Prime. Naturally, Bernal Heights co-stars in the pilot.

Here’s how Deadline Hollywood describes the show:

Amazon s joining the hot trend of marijuana-themed shows with Budding Prospect, a 1980s comedy from Bad Santa director Terry Zwigoff, which has tapped Will Sasso as one of the leads.

Written by Melissa Axelrod based on the TC Boyle novel of the same name and to be directed by Zwigoff, Budding Prospect is set in 1983 San Francisco. Three hapless city boys move to the country to grow marijuana. Their expectations of the experience being a back-to-the-land, nurturing adventure in a beautiful rustic setting run up against the harsh truth upon their arrival at “The Summer Camp” – a miserably run-down shanty out in the middle of nowhere, where they are bedeviled by rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and harsh, unfriendly growing conditions, noisy neighbors, dangerous locals, and menacing law enforcement.

There are lots of Bernal Heights scenes in the pilot, including some tsk-tsk driving on Bernal Heights Boulevard:

Also, the Bernal Heights Library on Cortland puts on a costume to masquerade as the Mission Police Station:

Bernalwood caught up with Neighbor Melissa for an EXCLUSIVE celebrity interview about the show. She tells Bernalwood:

I wrote Budding Prospects (based on a novel by TC Boyle) and my husband Terry directed. We wanted to work from home, and the book is set in and around the Mission prior to a journey up to Mendocino, so we knew we’d at least get to sleep in our own beds while filming the pilot. We hate leaving the ‘Hill’ for too long! Our last foray into Hollywood kept us there for years and that ain’t happening again.

I wrote Budding Prospects as Melissa Axelrod, my maiden name. I started writing when Terry was working on Bad Santa. I did some uncredited work on that script, then started writing in earnest about 10 years ago.

I wrote a feature that had a lot of interest, Fred Armisen attached as lead, but indie features are so tough to finance I’ve pretty much given up on that seeing the light of day. I did get some work out of it, a couple of jobs writing pilots, but they never made it to TV.

It’s tough to work in the film business and live in SF, but my husband and I love it here. I’ve lived here since ’86 and he’s been here since something like ’72 – we have a cozy set-up: cats, a house we love, people we love …  we never wanted to make the big move to LA. We’re not so ambitious as to give all this up! Budding Prospects is our ideal project, as we plan to set several episodes in SF.

Congrats Neighbors Melissa and Terry!

Budding Prospects is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, and watch the trailer right here.

IMAGES: Screenshots of Bernal Heights, as seen in the pilot episode of Budding Prospects

CurbedSF Collects Cute Pics of “Dopey Dogs of Bernal Hill”

Our friends at CurbedSF have collected a lovely set of photos about all the doggies to be found atop Bernal Hill. They write:

If you rent in San Francisco and your rent-control lease specifies no-pets, you too might known the pain of living a pooch-free life. So much so that you’re resorted to petting any dog that passes by and/or visiting dog parks alone just to take pics of other peoples’ pups. Which isn’t creepy at all.

Abate your puppy pangs with this series of shots atop Bernal Hill. The Bernal Heights summit is noted for being the place in San Francisco to take your dog.

And from there, a great deal of cuteness ensues.

A Letter to Whomever Broke Into This Car Last Week

Last week, after Neighbor Jes parked just south of Cortland Avenue, someone broke in to her car.. There was nothing inside the car worth stealing, so Neighbor Jes wrote this letter to the would-be thief:

To whomever broke into my car Tuesday evening,

Well it’s obvious why you chose my car. Two-toned duck-tape holding up my passenger side mirror, on an old beat-up 2003 Nissan. Absolutely nothing inside but a few cassette tapes which you rummaged through and didn’t seem to appreciate. You stole nothing, but you left me a new umbrella. Thanks kindly.

Neighbors beware. My car was parked on Anderson near jarboe. Looks like the perpetrators were looking for money, any technology, &/or a garage door opener.

Neighbor Jes

PHOTO: Car after the break-in, courtesy of Neighbor Jes

Housing Deal Adds $1 Million for Calle24 and Temporary Homeless Shelter

What does it cost to build new housing on an abandoned lot near Cesar Chavez Avenue? In the case of 1515 South Van Ness, the  157-unit mixed-income development proposed for the site, a previous commitment to make 25% of the new units affordable wasn’t enough. Yesterday we learned that it’ll also take a $1 million payment to an anti-development organization  with close ties to D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen to get the project approved.

Reporter J.K. Dineen from the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story about the deal yesterday, adding that in addition to the $1 million payment to a “cultural stabilization fund” run by Erick Arguello of the Calle24 Council, the former McMillan Electric building on the corner of 26th Street and South Van Ness will also be converted into a temporary homeless shelter until construction begins.

Dineen writes:

A four-month impasse over a key Mission District housing project is headed toward resolution after the developer agreed to new community benefits including discounted “trade shop” space for local businesses and a $1 million contribution to a cultural district formed in 2014 to preserve the neighborhood’s Latino heritage and community.

In a deal hammered out with Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Lennar Multifamily Communities has committed to leasing out its six 700-square-foot trade shop spaces at 1515 S. Van Ness Ave. for 50 percent of the market rate. The $1 million contribution would be made through the San Francisco Foundation to a cultural stabilization fund that could be spent on building or acquiring sites for affordable housing.

In addition, Lennar, which had previously agreed to make 25 percent of the 157 housing units affordable and to use 100 percent union labor, has agreed to let the city use the current building that is on the property as a navigation center — a pop-up shelter for homeless services.

IMAGE: Aerial view of 1515 South Van Ness, via Google Maps

Woman Attacks 14 Year-Old Student at Paul Revere School

From SFGate:

A girl was taken to a hospital after a 30-year-old woman came to her school and punched her, police said Monday.

The woman showed up at the 14-year-old girl’s Bernal Heights school at 11 a.m. on Friday and began arguing with her before the altercation turned physical, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

The woman then allegedly pushed the girl to the ground and punched her. The altercation was broken up by school staff and the woman fled in an unknown direction, police said.

IMAGE: Paul Revere School, by Telstar Logistics