Neighborhood Businesses Invited to Join Bernal Business Alliance

A vintage sign for the Cortland Avenue Merchants Association c. 1940s. (Photo: Neighbor Darcy)

Neighbor Darcy Lee from the fabulous Heartfelt store on Cortland reached out to extend an invitation to other merchants and businessfolk around Bernal Heights to get involved with the Bernal Business Alliance. Neighbor Darcy writes:

When I first became a merchant on the Cortland corridor, I belonged to the Cortland Merchants Association.

We held long drawn out meetings at various locations along Cortland. I attended when I could, and I always hovered over thinking this could be better but not really having any solutions.

Over the years I have seen so many different versions of our group with many different folks entering the fray. There has been drama, personal battles, accomplishments and some wonderful strolls. I love our current incarnation.

Now called the Bernal Business Alliance, four of us (Lynn, Arno, Laurie and I) run the organization as a team. We’re friends, and all of us are deeply committed to our community. I encourage you to join if you run a business in Bernal.

If you’re already a member please pay your dues for 2018!  We have an updated vintage style map in the works that will be printed this year and your dues pay for this.

Bernal Artist Amos Goldbaum Paints New San Francisco Mural in Tokyo

The new mural in Tokyo created by Amos Goldbaum (Photo: Instagram)

If you find yourself feeling a little homesick for San Francisco next time you’re having a Bill Murray/Scarlett Johansson moment in Tokyo, Bernal Heights artist Amos Goldbaum has helped create a place where you can go to feel right at home.

Wise Sons, the Jewish delicatessen anchored on the corner of 24th Street and Shotwell in the Mission, is preparing to open a new outlet right in the heart of Tokyo, not far from Tokyo Station. To give the new place an appropriate sense of San Francisco provenance, the Wise Sons wisely commissioned Neighbor Amos to create one of his signature cityscape murals on a wall in their new Tokyo restaurant, which is scheduled to open next week.

Neighbor Amos has been sharing photos of his adventure in Tokyo on the Instagram, along with in-progress shots of the new mural. This sketch captured his vision for the project; a Goldbaumesque San Francisco scene, only with Mt. Fuji looming in the background:

Here’s how it looked as Neighbor Amos got to work on the wall in Tokyo:


A post shared by Amos Goldbaum (@amosgoldbaum) on

The houses in the foreground are a classic slice of San Francisco, of course, but close observers may notice a special element hiding amid the high-rises of the downtown San Francisco skyline: a “Bagel Kaiju,” or bagel monster, taking a break from marauding the city to enjoy a fresh bagel:

Bagel kaiju

A post shared by Amos Goldbaum (@amosgoldbaum) on

When the mural was complete, Sutro Tower had been replaced by the Golden Gate Bridge:

Attempted time-lapse

A post shared by Amos Goldbaum (@amosgoldbaum) on

Congrats to Neighbor Amos, and here’s to hoping that a version of his San Fransokyo graphic will be available soon in t-shirt form at a streetcorner near you.

Bernal Heights Real Estate Report: Median Home Prices Near $1.5M, Up 9% in 2017

Photo: Aerial view of Bernal Hill, by the Bernalwood Air Force

Bernal neighbors Michael Minson and Danielle Lazier work by day as local realtors. Naturally, as neighbors, they also pay close attention to the housing market here in Bernal Heights.

Recently, Neighbors Michael and Danielle published a Bernal housing market summary that captures the overall sales results from 2017. Their not-surprising conclusion:  Median home prices in Bernal Heights continued to climb, hitting $1.476 million last year, or a 9% gain over 2016.

(For comparison/nostalgia’s sake, consider that the median Bernal home price in 2012 was $775,000.)

The basic story here remains unchanged: Bernal’s very limited housing supply, coupled with strong demand and a vibrant local economy, continues to push up prices. Homes in Bernal Heights spend a median of just 14 days on the market before selling, and when they do, they go for an average of 18% over the asking price.

Now let’s hand it over to Neighbors Michael and Danielle for their full report:

2017 was yet another record year for real estate in Bernal Heights.

The median sale price soared to $1.476M, a 9% gain over last year and almost double the median sale price from only five years ago ($775k in 2012). The Bernal Heights market had been slowing over the past three years, but that trend reversed in 2017.

The median price per square foot for single family houses broke the $1k/ft barrier and settled at $1,022/ft by year-end. 195 homes were sold in 2017, which is 14% more than last year and the most since 2005.

Four homes joined the $3M club, an exclusive group that only 9 families can claim in the history of Bernal, with the crown belonging to 88 Montcalm ($3.85M). There were 30 homes sold between $2M-$3M this year and only 65 ever.

We believe the Bernal Real Estate market will remain strong as San Francisco wage growth and employment are high, but may slow somewhat due to macroeconomic factors related to a reduction in the tax deductions and rising interest rates.

The $750k cap on the mortgage interest deduction and the $10k cap on state and local property and income tax deductions will make home ownership slightly less attractive in general, and will affect most new buyers in Bernal. The National Association of Realtors forecasts mortgage rates will average 4.6% throughout the year and reach 5.0% (for a 30 year fixed) by the end.

Taxes are not a primary driver, but rather an added benefit for most people searching for a primary residence in San Francisco and this change will have a minor impact, if any, on housing prices.

Millennials are a driving force in today’s housing market as the largest cohort turns 30 in 2020. Bernal is a very attractive neighborhood because of its proximity to the city, views, weather, distinct vibe and relative affordability when compared to Noe Valley, Glen Park and Potrero Hill.

With Bernalwood’s permission, Neighbors Michael and Danielle used Bernalwood’s Bernal Heights microhoods map to take a granular look at prices in different areas of Bernal:

Rare Bikes Stolen From Home of New Bernal Neighbor

Neighbor Erik Nohlin moved to Prentiss Street in Bernal Heights one week ago after living on 23rd Street for four years before that. Sadly, his introduction to Bernal Heights included a brazen home intrusion robbery during which six rare bicycles were stolen from his garage.

Neighbor Erik is an industrial designer for Specialized Bicycle Components, the bicycle manufacturer based in Morgan Hill, Calif. Last Monday, Feb. 13, while he was settling into his new Bernal home, someone broke into his garage between 10:30 and 11 pm and took six bikes that represent five years of Neighbor Erik’s work.

Images of all the missing bikes are available here.

“My wife and I were at home and asleep by 11.30 when two SFPD officers knocked on thee back door and said that a neighbor had seen the door open when he got home, so he called the police,” Neighbor Erik told Bernalwood. “I walked down the garage with the officers and we found that my entire bicycle collection was gone, the  wire was cut and u-locks gone.”

The thieves stole the bikes in just a few minutes, without making a sound. Examination of the scene revealed they had used a wire to reach through the garage mail slot and release the garage latch.

This sprint bike was among those stolen from a Prentiss St. garage on Feb. 13.

Neighbor Erik says the stolen bikes are one-of-a-kind creations.

A cash reward of $1000 has been offered to anyone who returns the bikes, no questions asked. “The bikes are so well known and high profile that turning them will be hard – they’re too hot,” he says.  “I would hate to see these disassembled and sold as parts or sprayed black, as they’re so unique with their stories, not only to me but to cycling history.”

Bernal neighborErik Nohlin’s name appears on some of the stolen bike frames.

Anyone with information that might lead to the recovery of the bikes is asked to call 415 696 1434, or contact the SFPD at <>.

“We thought we had moved out of the more exposed 23rd Street to a safer place, but we certainly learned a lesson,” Neighbor Erik says. “It’s San Francisco and you need triple locks and eyes peeled 24/7.”

Bernal Author Emily Chang Tackles Silicon Valley’s Boys Club

If you keep up with the literary reviews in publications like the New York Times, the Financial Times, or the San Francisco Chronicle, you’ve probably noticed that Emily Chang’s new book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys Club of Silicon Valley has been getting a lot of attention lately.

Brotopia examines the male-dominated workplaces of the technology industry and looks at how gender-based discrimination  and sexism have become part of the culture of Silicon Valley. As technology plays an increasingly central role in our lives, the status of women in tech has become an important topic. As the New York Times put it, “This is more than a work force issue, and “Brotopia” is more than a business book.”

Brotopia has generated a lot of buzz, so we were pleased (but not at all surprised) to learn that Emily Chang is also a resident of Bernal Heights.

Neighbor Emily tells Bernalwood:

I started writing Brotopia two years ago, long before Trump and #metoo and had no idea this issue would explode in the public consciousness just as I was about to publish. I have been covering Silicon Valley for eight years on Bloomberg TV and, while tech has changed our lives in so many wondrous ways, I was perplexed by the staggering underrepresentation of women across this supposedly progressive industry. Women account for 25% of computing jobs, 7% of investors, and women-led companies only get 2% of funding.

As I began researching the topic, I discovered a lot that surprised me about how and why this happened. In fact, women were well-represented in tech’s early days and programmed computers for the military and NASA (think Hidden Figures, but industry-wide) and then, for various reasons — which you’ll have to read in the book! — they got pushed and profiled out. The book examines how and why women have been left out of the biggest wealth creation in the history of the world, why it matters and what we can do about it. It includes over 300 interviews with everyone from Sheryl Sandberg to Tim Cook and engineers at companies like Facebook, Google and Uber.

I spent many afternoons typing away at Progressive Grounds (chai tea latte and turkey/sundried tomato sandwich please!) and holing up in our Bernal bedroom listening to my three sons wreak havoc downstairs while my incredibly supportive husband tried to keep the peace. It wasn’t an easy endeavor — talking about sexism is kind of like walking the third rail — but I hope this book starts a meaningful conversation.

This is an industry that is controlling what we see and read, how we shop and communicate, making our children’s video games and social media. It’s not just tech’s problem, but everyone’s problem and I fully believe the people who changed the world can change this too.

Drone Video Captures Gorgeous Sunset and New Skyline From Bernal Hill

The weather outside has been eerily lovely for the last week or so; Warm, clear, and bathed in gorgeous California sunshine.

The sunsets have been exceptionally tasty as well. Luckily. Francois Brahic, a local drone jockey, filmed one of those sunset recently, as seen from the top of Bernal Hill.

It’s a lovely little moment in time that captures the colors of the sunset and our new skyline in a very beautiful way. Enjoy:

Bernaltown Returns to Bernal Heights and Now Everyone Can Watch It!

The 20th Anniversary screening of Bernaltown: The Movie that took place at the Bernal Heights Library last Tuesday night was a classic Bernal event. The film sold out two screenings on Tuesday night, and the audiences were a friendly mix of Bernal neighbors, old and new.

That’s probably because Bernaltown is such a sweet film. Clocking in at about 30 minutes, Bernaltown was written and produced in the mid 1990s by  Gregory Gavin, who at the time was running a youth program that taught local kids how to build wooden go-carts for racing on Bernal Hill. The kids and the go-karts ended up with starring roles in Bernaltown, which was first shown in 1997.

Twenty years later, Bernaltown remains a work of delightful, uninhibited fun that showcases Bernal’s quirks and characters. It shows us how far we’ve come in some ways, reminds us what we’ve lost in others, and celebrates the oddball creative spirit that still clings to Bernal Hill’s chert.

A few celebrity guests from the Bernaltown cast were on hand Tuesday night, including the dastardly, diabolical Dealer Dan (Nic Griffin), and Shila Evanchak, who played a superhero version of her childhood self in the film:

Berntown celebrities Shila Evanchak (left) and Nic Griffin (as Dealer Dan) were on the red carpet Tuesday night

The Bernaltown screenings at the library sold out quickly, which meant a lot of Bernal neighbors were sad because they weren’t able to see the film.

Until now.

Now, all Bernalese can partake of the joy that is Bernaltown through the magic of our 21st century Interwebs. Yes, Bernaltown is now on YouTube!

So load it up and gather around your favorite screen with friends and family.

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, dogs and cats… Welcome to Bernaltown: