Boo! You’re Invited to Dr. Rick’s Fabulous “Rebel Yell” Halloween Party on Saturday


Fear not, Bernal Heights goblins. Dr. Rick’s annual Halloween party at the Farmhouse Mansion is happening again this year, on Saturday, October 29 at the fabulous Farmhouse Mansion in Bernal Heights. Dr. Rick shares all the details:

Hi Everybody,

it’s that time of year again. And I cast my vote for… Scary!

This year’s “Rebel Hell” Halloween is patriotic-themed explosion of talent and delights.

Six bands, fire dancers, lasers, bag-pipes, tarot card reader, film festival, poetry slam, catered delicacies, full host bar, and much more. See attached for more info.

This is a benefit is for three organizations: ZSFG Hospital Vol Rehab Programs, AgeSong/Pacific Institute for elderly and disabled, and SFSMILES.

PLEASE bring a bag of adult clothes for donation.

The hospital especially needs… everything. Our clothing supply is very low.

Sat. Oct. 29th
6pm till ?
at the Farmhouse Mansion, Gardens, and Unofficial Polling Place
3340 Folsom Street, SF CA

$20 per person minimum donation, or half-price if you bring a bag of adult clothes.

See all you patriots at the rebellion soon,

Dr. Rick


1944: Another Big Fire on the 3300 Block of Mission Street


In the wake of the big fire that ravaged several buildings on Mission Street last June, there’s now a big, sad gap in the cityscape where Cole Hardware and Playa Azul used to be. But this isn’t the first time that block has been devastated by fire.

Vicky Walker, Minister of History from the Bernal Heights History Project, reminds us about the Sports Center bowling alley fire of 1944:

I was recently swapping emails with Pat (Patrick) O’Brien, a proud Bernal Heights native who lived on Holly Park Circle and then Gladys Street. Pat graduated from Junipero Serra, attended Mass and church at St Kevin’s, and delivered the San Francisco Examiner on a route along Cortland Ave. “After 70 years, there’s still one homeon that route which owes me money,” he says.

Seeing news of the Cole Hardware fire on Mission Street reminded Pat of another big fire on the same block.

“Strange coincidence,” he says. “In the 1940’s the Sports Center, a bowling alley, across from the Lyceum Theater on the other side of Mission Street, burned down.”

Bernalwood and the Bernal History Project have looked into the history of bowling on Mission Street before. Once upon a time, Bernalese had two large bowling alleys within a block of each other, so there was clearly a craze for the sport. But the Sports Center fire was news to me, so I dug into the newspaper archives.

Pat recalls, “Sports Center was built during my time in San Francisco as a kid; it was so much larger and better than the Mission Bowl, which was adjacent to Sears.” (Today the former Mission Bowl building is now occupied by the Roccapulco nightclub.)


“With two stories, meetings and games could be played upstairs at Sports Center with plenty of room,” Pat says. “I learned to bowl with the Cubs on a few Saturdays; I later took a job as a pin setter — a tough job with everything done by hand. The environment wasn’t too good for a young kid, with many winos making a little money with that job, too.”

Construction work to build Sports Center was underway in late 1941, as the US entered World War II after the Pearl Harbor attacks.  Sports Center opened at 3333 Mission — the site of today’s Big Lots store — on July 1, 1942.

It had 38 bowling lanes, eight badminton courts, an “extensive” table tennis setup, a cocktail bar, a fountain lunch counter, and plenty of parking:


The site had originally been home to a Market Street Railway car barn, and the car barn’s brick walls and structural steel frame were re-used to create what the Chronicle described as a “bowling palace” and “magnificent edifice.” Renowned San Francisco muralist Don Clever painted caricatures of sports stars like Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis on the walls of the cafe and bar.

Sports Center general manager Gerry Watkins had done his research, and he knew he could capitalize on the bowling craze. The Sports Center was a huge success, with many of the city’s bowling teams and badminton champs playing there regularly.

The San Francisco Chronicle certainly rarely missed a chance to run a photo of young women bowling…

…. or leaping with their badminton racquets:


But it didn’t last long. A fire broke out at the Sports Center at around 5 p.m. on February 8, 1944, in an attic storeroom full of paint, wax, and lacquer used to maintain the alleys and bowling pins.

“It was a gigantic fire and my dad, a fireman, was at the fire,” Pat recalls. “I along with hundreds watched it. The fire engrossed that entire structure, and that’s where I saw my dad go up on the roof to survey the fire and damage. He got an uneasy feeling about the roof and told the other firemen to get down from it. A few minutes later, the roof caved in — but no firemen were hurt. The fire was so dangerous because of the gallons of paint, varnish, and combustibles stored inside.”

The Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune both made sure to report that the Sports Center’s extensive supply of liquor in the cocktail bar were saved, but the building itself was a write-off —  although the brick walls remained solid.

The Sports Center was rapidly rebuilt by a group of directors that included then-Supervisor Edward T. Mancuso. Some questioned how a country at war could spare the steel for a mere bowling alley,

But Mancuso told the Chronicle that the government had deemed the bowling alley worthy of AA-3 priority because the diversion of playing sports  was a “positive factor in soothing the tension of war workers and service men.” The Sports Center reopened in August 1945.

Pinkie’s Bakery on Cortland Shutting Down This Week


Over the weekend, several Bernal neighbors contacted Bernalwood to share the sad news that Pinkie’s Bakery at 833 Cortland will shutter at the end of this week. The Cortland closure comes shortly after the September announcement that Pinkie’s was closing its original SoMa store. Pinkie’s on Cortland opened just a year ago, after taking over the former Sandbox Bakery space.

Neighbor Julie visited Pinkie’s on Cortland on Saturday, and she reported:

I don’t have many details. I went in this morning to see if they had English muffins, and the two young women behind the counter said they were sold out— and, by the way, this was the last week to buy them because Pinkie’s was shutting its doors on Friday.

I said, “You mean the SOMA location, right?” and they said “No, this one too. We just found out yesterday.”

Neighbor Joshua heard the same:

While at Pinkie’s this morning for my Saturday doughnut, I was told by the staff that they will be closing. Their last day will be on Friday.  […]  I think it’s unfortunate. They do a killer doughnut these days and my dogs go crazy for their home made dog treats.

Awww. Bernalwood reached out to Pinkie’s proprietor Cheryl Storms to see if the reports were true. Cheryl replied:

Yes it’s true. Our Folsom location and our sister restaurant Citizen’s Band shut down last month… Basically it is taking Pinkie’s on Cortland down with it. That’s pretty much all I can say about the details.

It’s pretty devastating; the Bernal bakery was what I always wanted, the quintessential cute neighborhood spot with great customers and neighbors. We were pretty busy and with our booming wholesale pastry and bread business, it was actually profitable. It’s a total bummer that our failure with the Folsom location is so deep that it is affecting the Bernal bakery so much that we can no longer stay in business. The hardest thing is letting go of the employees. Many of them have been with me for years and have always been loyal and like family to me. I hate letting them down.

Personally, I will be working part-time as a pastry chef consultant while I figure things out and spend more time with my baby daughter.

Bernal was really good to me and I will miss the neighborhood and the bakery and all of our regulars, (some inherited from Sandbox and some newbies) especially all my fellow moms who I liked to chat with when I was at the bakery counter. There is such a great family community in Bernal Heights and I feel lucky to have been invited into that community when I took over Sandbox. Everyone has been so supportive and amazing.

Friday is our last day of business. I hope the next tenant at 833 Cortland is awesome, and keeps the neighborhood well-fed and caffeinated.

PHOTO: Pinkie’s Bakery last weekend, by Neighbor Julie

Bernalwood Endorsements for the November 8, 2016 Election


Citizens of Bernal Heights! It’s time to vote!

The day after Great Britain’s sad Brexit vote, a New York Times reporter joked on Twitter that “the State of California should go around the world doing a scared-straight talk on governing by referendum.” So true. The same can be said for the City of San Francisco. There are so many local propositions on this ballot that we almost ran out of letters in the alphabet, and only four of them got there thanks to citizen signature drives. Most of the rest came from members of the Board of Supervisors. Pity us, and pity your USPS letter carrier.

Per usual, voters are advised to be wary of any initiative that ends up on our ballot. Yet there’s a lot at stake for Bernal Heights in this election — including a new representative on the Board of Supervisors — so here is Bernalwood’s superhyperlocal guide to navigating your unwieldy San Francisco ballot.

(NOTE: For the TL; DR, A handy clip n’ save/copy n’ paste version of Bernalwood’s slate card appears at the end of this post.)

Joshua Arce
Bernal Heights rarely gets the opportunity to choose a new representative to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but Supervisor David Campos is termed-out, and it’s time for a change. A real change.

At first blush, the two leading candidates for the D9 Supe seem pretty similar. Joshua Arce and Hillary Ronen are both progressive. Both are parents to young children. Both speak Spanish fluently. Both are lawyers with deep experience fighting for social justice. And both are renters (though Ronen only moved to D9 late last year).

The big difference between them is that Hillary Ronen is running as the chosen heir to David Campos, our current Supervisor. For the last six years, Ronen has been an insider working for Campos in City Hall as his legislative aide, and she’s running to continue many of his current policies for another four+ years. That’s unfortunate, because Supervisor Campos has become an increasingly divisive and mean-spirited figure who presided over a worsening affordability crisis in D9, with no new affordable housing developments built here during his tenure. Meanwhile, increased property crime has been a persistent woe, along with indifference to quality-of -life concerns and transit improvements. Campos has also dogmatically opposed building more housing (at least until lobbyists pay proper homage).

Sure, it sucks to have an embarrassing boss, but as Campos’s self-described “chief of staff,” Ronen bears some responsibility for failures that include many pieces of legislation that were thrown out by the courts, others which backfired, and an exasperating pattern of ignoring constituent calls and emails. (Really, it’s difficult to overstate how frequently Bernalwood hears about this from frustrated Bernal residents who have gotten zero response from Campos’s office in general, and sometimes, from Ronen in particular.)

This pattern of sloppiness seems set to continue, as the centerpiece of Ronen’s campaign is a pledge to create 5000 new units of subsidized-affordable housing in the next 10 years. It’s a swell slogan, and a nice round number, but here in the realm of reality, subsidized-affordable housing costs around $600,000 per unit to build. So Ronen’s 5000 units would cost a staggering $3 billion, and her plan is so poorly thought-out that when asked at a recent debate how she would make it happen, she pulled a Rick Perry and forgot her own answer.

Enough. As D9 Supervisor, Josh Arce would be a more effective progressive to represent Bernal Heights. With a background in environmental justice and affordable housing development, Arce is a patient community-builder and a careful policymaker, and in recent years he’s used those skills to help shut down dirty power plants and create new employment opportunities for local construction workers. Here in Bernal, neighbors have praised his work on projects such as the Esmeralda Slide Re-Renovation and the installation of the (previously stalled) new Coleridge Mini-Park lighting. The reports Bernalwood has received highlight his persistence, his ability to get results from City bureaucracy, his engagement, and his attention to detail.

Arce’s proposal to pay for a new BART station on Mission at 30th Street by building 1600 new units of housing on City-identified sites and parking lots is a compelling long-term vision for the future of our Mission Street corridor. And though Arce is the first to admit it will be challenging to realize, a new BART station would also cost at least $2.5 billion dollars less than Ronen’s far-fetched housing scheme. In the face of the ongoing affordability crisis, we need a Supervisor who will work for all D9 residents without creating spiteful divisions based based on when people moved here and where they go to work. Josh Arce is the best candidate to represent Bernal Heights on the Board of Supervisors.

Scott Wiener
There’s an open State Senate seat, and two current members of the Board of Supervisors — Jane Kim and Scott Wiener — both want the job. Both have done good work on the Board of Supes, but Wiener has been more steady supporter of creating more new housing of all types and improving our transit system.  As an added bonus, Wiener also enjoys a strong reputation for providing timely responses to his constituents’ concerns, and he’s a data geek. Jane Kim is charismatic, but Scott Wiener’s overall approach to policymaking has been more more rigorous and more consistent. So he gets the nod.

Stevon Cook
Matt Haney
Trevor McNeil
Rachel Norton

Paul Henderson

D9 – Gwyneth J. Borden

Amy Bacharach
Rafael Mandelman
Alex Randolph
Shanell Williams

PROP A: School Bonds – YES
Proposition A would authorize the San Francisco Board of Education to issue $744 million in general obligation bonds to upgrade San Francisco public schools. Most of the money will be used for seismic upgrades and modernization of existing schools, but the bond would also enable construction of two new elementary schools and a new school for the arts, a well as some dedicated housing for teachers.

PROP B: City College Parcel Tax – YES
City College of San Francisco is a public community college that provides crucial (and affordable) educational opportunities for residents who need them most. Prop B would impose a parcel tax $99 per property per year for 15 years to provide dedicated funding for CCSF. Sadly, CCSF has struggled in recent years, after its accreditation was almost revoked in 2013 because of poor financial management.  The struggle continues, but Prop B would help but City College on a more stable footing — assuming the Board of Supervisors resists the temptation to meddle in the school’s affairs.

Prop C: Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing – YES
Prop C would make it possible to use about $261 million in leftover funds from a previous seismic retrofit bond to acquire and rehabilitate apartments for conversion to permanently affordable housing within the framework of the City’s Small Site Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program. The City would use the funds to offer low-interest loans so “private parties” (mostly nonprofit housing agencies) can acquire buildings that might otherwise be converted into single-family homes or condos.

D: Vacancy Appointments – NO
Prop D would change the system used to fill vacancies when elected officials — such as members of the Board of Supervisors — give up their seats. Under the current system, the mayor appoints people to fill vacancies until the next citywide election, when the appointed office-holder must stand for election like any other candidate. Prop D would change that, by requiring a special election to be held within 180 days of a vacancy occurring. But Prop D’s special elections would be expensive and cumbersome to administer, with low voter turnout likely, so the special elections would be ripe for manipulation by special interests and political factions. Any effort to change existing election rules should be viewed with a skepticism, and Prop D is a classic case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. No on D.

Prop E: Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees and Surrounding Sidewalks – YES
In 2014, San Francisco effectively walked away from it’s longstanding commitment to maintain the trees that line City streets, and arbitrarily shifted the cost of street tree maintenance to private homeowners. For some unlucky residents, like Bernal neighbor Laura Gold, this has resulted in massive tree pruning bills levied under threat of legal penalty. Prop E reverses this by establishing a relatively modest (but apparently adequate) budgetary set-aside that will allow the City to once again assume responsibility for street tree maintenance. Street trees grow in public space, and all San Franciscans benefit from them. This is the kind of public infrastructure that taxes are supposed to pay for.

Prop F: Youth Voting in Local Elections – NO
Prop F would allow 16 or 17 year-olds to vote in local elections, but as argued elsewhere here, any effort to change our electoral rules should be approached with caution.  Voting is a privilege, and elections have real consequences. So if you’re intimidated by the task of wading through all 24 (!!!!) of the San Francisco propositions placed on this ballot, there’s little reason to think that 16 year olds have any more o the judgement, experience, or patience required to make informed decisions on taxes, bonds, charter amendments, civic administration, resource allocation, and land use policy. Yet.

Prop G: Police Oversight – YES
Prop G would give more teeth to the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC), the body that currently investigates allegations brought by members of the public regarding wrongdoing by San Francisco Police Department. Prop G would reconstitute the OCC as a new Department of Police Accountability, while separating its budged from that of the Police Commission — and thus, hopefully, giving it more independence as well. The last few years have provided plenty of evidence that we need stronger oversight of the SFPD, and Prop G is a step in the right direction.

H: Public Advocate – NO, NO, NO
Do you think we need a new a new bureaucracy to administer City programs, conduct public hearings, and introduce legislation to the Board of Supervisors? In other words, do you think we need yet another politician to perform the same tasks that the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors already perform right now? Prop H would do just this, creating a new elected official and a parallel set of new City Hall staff positions, with taxpayers footing the bill for all this the tune of about $4 million a year. That’s a lot to pay to get more redundancy and red tape. There are plenty of dubious ideas on this ballot, but Prop H is one of the silliest — unless you happen to enjoy bloated bureaucracy and pointless political gridlock. Vote no.

Prop I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities – NO
Prop I would require the City to spend $38 million from the general fund to pay for support services for seniors and adults with disabilities, with the size of the fund increasing by about $3 million a year until 2026-2027. This is a worthy cause, of course, but budgetary mandates are bad policy because they restrict the City’s ability to prioritize spending when times are lean. Say no to clumsy budget set-asides. No on Prop I.

J: Funding for Homelessness and Transportation – NO
Prop J would mandate that a portion of the new tax revenue created by Prop K would be allocated for use to fund homeless services and transportation improvements. As with Prop I, however, this is another case of worthy causes tied to yet another misguided “set-aside” funding requirement. Say no to gimmicky budget set-asides. No on Prop J.

Prop K: General Sales Tax – NO
Prop K would increase the sales tax by 0.75% for a total sales tax rate of 9.25%. It’s intended to work in tandem with Prop J, which would set-aside this new revenue for  transit improvements and care for the homeless. (The two propositions appear separately as part of a ballot box hack that allows each measure to pass with just a simple majority, rather than two-thirds requirement that applies to new taxes allocated for specific purposes.) We need more transit funding, and we need to do more to help the homeless, but regressive sales taxes, rigid budget set-asides, and ballot-box games are the wrong way to get there. 

Prop L: MTA Appointments and Budget – NO
Transit riders in the Mission and Bernal say Muni has generally been performing much better lately. Now the Board of Supervisors wants to screw it up again. Prop L would alter how appointments are made to the SFMTA Board of Directors by creating split appointments between the Board of Supervisors and the mayor. It also allows the Board of Supervisors to overrule the SFMTA’s budget by a simple majority vote.  Both of these proposals would reverse the (largely effective) Muni governance reforms San Francisco voters approved in 1999. Muni still has a long way to go, but exposing it to more political interference by Supervisors would be a great leap backward. The San Francisco Transit Riders Union agrees — they’re opposing Prop L too. 

M: Housing and Development Commission – NO
San Francisco’s stifling bureaucracy and byzantine permitting process has been a major cause of our current housing affordability crisis. Anyone who lives here knows this intuitively, and an overwhelming majority of economists say that existing barriers to home construction make our affordability and inequality problems  even worse . Prop M would add even more bureaucracy and even more opportunities for political meddling with San Francisco’s planning process. That would likely make our housing affordability problem worse.

N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections – NO
Prop N would allow non-citizens to vote in San Francisco School Board elections. While non-citizen parents with kids in City schools certainly have a stake in our civic institutions, the notion that citizenship is a basic voting requirement remains a foundational idea of our democracy — and Prop N may be run contrary to California’s state constitution. San Francisco voters have already rejected this idea twice, in 2004 and 2010.

O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point – YES
Prop I would allow office development in Candlestick Point and the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard to proceed without counting toward the annual citywide cap on allowable office development in San Francisco. This is what happens when one generation of San Franciscans uses the ballot to make future city planning a ballot issue. First, we passed Prop M in 1986, which capped the amount of office space that can be built each year. Then we passed Prop G in 2008, to approve major development in Bayview/Hunters Point. But the development approved by Prop G busted the Prop M cap for office development (none of the office construction has even begun yet,  8 years later). So now we’re trapped in a foolish cycle of passing repeated ballot measures to get around the Prop M straightjacket when planning priorities change, We should leave the planning process to our elected officials, rather than slavishly binding ourselves to the anxieties of 30 years ago.

Prop P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property – YES
Prop P would require the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) to publish proposed affordable housing projects to the public for open bidding and submission of proposals. At least three bids or proposals must be received, and the City would be required to accept the proposal that’s the “best value” (but not necessarily the cheapest). MOHCD already uses a competitive bidding process to select developers for affordable housing opportunities on city-owned property, and in the past 17 years, most projects have had at least two bids. Yet a clubby atmosphere exists among many of San Francisco affordable housing developers, which often partner with one another both to secure public development contracts and oppose market-rate housing construction. In other words — Surprise! — affordable housing developers can be just as political and self-interested as any other real estate developer.   Prop P would help keep those tendencies in check, and at a time when it costs $600,000 to build a single unit of affordable housing in San Francisco,  taxpayers need to make every dollar go as far as we can.

Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks – NO ENDORSEMENT
San Francisco’s homeless problem is both a tragedy for those who are homeless and an unfair burden placed upon City residents who live near homeless encampments.  This initiative won’t eliminate tents on public sidewalks, but at a time when San Francisco is already spending almost $250 million a year on homeless services, it should come as no surprise that many San Francisco residents will use this flawed proposal to send a message that allowing people to live in tents on City sidewalks is simply not acceptable.

R: Neighborhood Crime Unit – NO
Prop R would require the San Francisco Police Department t establish a Neighborhood Crime Unit and staff it with a minimum of 3 percent of all sworn personnel. Yes, absolutely, local property crime is a huge issue in San Francisco — and here in Bernal. But locking-in police staffing ratios by way of a ballot measure is the wrong way to solve the problem.

Prop S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds – NO
This would set-aside a portion of our hotel tax revenue to support the arts and homeless families. ( San Francisco has some of the highest hotel taxes in the nation.) As we’ve said elsewhere here, the arts and homelessness are important priorities, but set-asides established at the ballot box are a terrible way to establish policy.  We elect the Mayor and our Supervisors to set budget priorities and make hard choices, and we should hold them accountable. Say it like a mantra: Budget by ballot is a bad idea.

Prop T: Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists – YES
Prop T imposes stricter registration requirements for lobbyists and restricts gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists to city officials. It would require lobbyists to identify which city agencies they intend to influence. It would also prohibit lobbyists from making any contribution to city elected officials or candidates, as well as from gathering contributions from others (known as “bundling”). SF already requires lobbyists to register, to disclose who they lobby, and to disclose any contributions. (And this is how we know about D9 candidate Hillary Ronen’s cozy and complex relationship with the developers building 2000 Bryant Street, for example.) There’s nothing wrong with lobbying per se, but the more openness and transparency that surrounds it, the better. 

Prop U: Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects – YES
Amid the clamor to create more subsidized-affordable housing in San Francisco, many  residents are stuck in a Twilight Zone: They’re not wealthy enough to buy a market-rate home, but they earn too much to qualify for subsidized housing. Prop U would make subsidized housing available to those who earn 110% of Area Median Income (AMI), up from 55% AMI today. (For reference, 110% of AMI is $118,450 for a household of four.) The downside is that opening up subsidized affordable housing to moderate-income buyers may increase competition for subsidized units among lower-income people. Tough call here, because this proposal basically pits the poor against people like public school teachers, and it doesn’t provide any new affordable housing. But on balance we’d prefer to make subsidized housing available to more San Franciscans.

Prop V: Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages — Meh
Sugary drinks are shitty products, but they’re not the same as cigarettes. That’s to say, the harms caused by sugary drinks don’t justify a regressive tax on soda intended to discourage people from buying it. (And the tax probably doesn’t work anyway.) However, the scope and slippery scale of the effort launched by soda companies to oppose Prop V has done them no favors. Forced to choose between Big Soda and a patronizing nanny-state intervention, we throw up our hands in  fizzy disgust.

Prop W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million – NO
Prop W would increate the size of the tax charged when real estate with a value of more than $5 million is sold. This has been pitched as a way to stick it to the rich, but the tax doesn’t only apply to single-family residences. Any property that sells for more than $5 million would be subject to the new tax, including multi-unit dwellings, tenancies-in-common, and office buildings. San Francisco already has higher transfer taxes than most other municipalities in the region, and Prop W is poorly tailored. Truth is, $5 million isn’t all that much in our City’s ridiculously expensive  real estate market, and there’s no compelling reason to make it even more expensive for people who want to invest in the future of our City.

X: Preserving Space for Production, Distribution, and Repair Spaces in Certain Neighborhoods – NO, NO, NO
San Francisco faces a housing shortage in no small part because we enact so many land use restrictions. That’s counterproductive, if your goal is to prevent displacement. If we want to make housing more affordable and more plentiful, we must make it easier to build more housing in parts of the City where it’s needed most. Prop X makes home construction harder, by requiring that we set aside more space for warehouse and manufacturing use. Even SFMade, a trade group representing 650 San Francisco-based “makers,” says Prop X is a bad idea. Put housing first, with no exceptions. No on X.

Prop RR: BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief YES, YES, YES
This is the proper way to pay for the public transit improvements we so desperately need. Prop RR authorizes BART to issue $3.5 billion in bonds to fund system renewal projects, backed by a tax on property within the three-county BART District (which includes San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties). To pay for the bond, property taxes of the typical SF homeowner would rise by approximately $2 per $100k of assessed value in the first year, up to $17 per $100k of assessed value per year by 2035.  (The average tax increase over the life of the bonds is about $9 per $100k of assessed value per year).  BART is 40 years old. It desperately needs more maintenance and repair. Prop RR is a no-brainer, and frankly, we only wish the bond issue was bigger, to make BART even bigger, and even better.


Bernalwood’s November 2016 Election Endorsements


  • Board of Supervisors, District 9: Joshua Arce
  • State Senate: Scott Wiener
  • Judge: Paul Henderson
  • School Board: Stevon Cook, Matt Haney, Trevor McNeil, Rachel Norton
  • BART Board: Gwyneth J. Borden
  • City College:  Amy Bacharach, Rafael Mandelman, Alex Randolph, Shanell Williams


Prop A: YES
Prop B: YES
Prop C: YES
Prop D: NO
Prop E: YES
Prop F: NO
Prop G: YES
Prop H: NO, NO, NO
Prop I: NO
Prop J: NO
Prop K: NO
Prop L: NO
Prop M: NO
Prop N: NO
Prop O: YES
Prop P: YES
Prop R: NO
Prop S: NO
Prop T: YES
Prop U: YES
Prop V: MEH
Prop W: NO
Prop X: NO!
Prop RR: YES


Tonight: Bernal Heights Artists Reception at Inclusions Gallery


Lisa Moro from the fabulously locavore Inclusions Gallery on Cortland is having a reception tonight, Thursday Oct. 20 for the neighbors featured in her annual show about artists from Bernal Heights. Naturally, you’re invited!

Lisa tells Bernalwood:

Select 7: Bernal Heights Artists, marks Inclusions Gallery eighth year curating an annual group show, devoted exclusively to neighborhood artists. On view are new and exciting works by seven artists. All will be in attendance at Thursday evening’s reception. Come, meet the artists and check out the entire show (the back room too).

Once a year Inclusions Gallery curates a group show especially focused on the talented artists who call Bernal Heights home. In this year’s exhibit you’ll find an excellent offering of new and recent works by seven artists: Copper plate etchings by David Avery, Ink and acrylic paintings by Glenn Hirsch, Mixed media works by Pamela Lanza, Oil paintings by Linda Larson, Oil and Mixed media paintings by Catherine Mackey, Encaustic and Mixed media paintings by Jenny Phillips, and Oil paintings by Aaron Zube.

Come by and meet the artists during a reception

Thursday, October 20th
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Inclusions Gallery – 627 Cortland (at Anderson)
Light refreshments will be served.

The exhibit runs through November 6th.


PHOTO: Late Afternoon on Cortland, oil on panel by Bernal artist Aaron Zube, now on display at Inclusions Gallery. Photo by Telstar Logistics

SFPD Traces Violent Crime Spike in Bernal Heights to Increased Gang Activity


During Monday night’s meeting held to address a disturbing spike in violent crime in Bernal Heights, San Francisco police officers told a room of about 50 concerned Bernal neighbors that many of the recent incidents are related to increased gang activity.

Police say they believe much of this violence — including the Oct. 8 shooting at Precita Park and incidents of gunfire near the Bernal Dwellings public housing project at Folsom and 26th Street — is a ripple-effect from gang-related homicides on Shotwell near 24th Street. Police also said some of the violence is concentrated around Bernal Dwellings, where gang-members tend to have a more adversarial relationship with other Mission gangs

Captain Joseph McFadden from the SFPD’s Ingleside Station emphasized that the victims involved in most of the recent incidents were specifically targeted, and that the violence was not random. “”You probably won’t get into any trouble yourself unless you’re in a gang,” Mc Fadden said. “But that’s not to say you can’t get shot.”

However, the recent incident on Coleridge, during which a Bernal parent was beaten after asking several youths to quiet down, is not believed to have been gang-related.

Officers from the SFPD’s Gang Task Force said gang-related activity tends to have a cyclical ebb and a flow. Sometimes the root causes of violence turn out to be silly, but the  pattern has peaks and valleys, and right now we seem to be in a peak. Viewed within the context of past patterns, they said, the activity taking place right now doesn’t seem particularly unusual, although it is on the high side.

At several points during the conversation, police pointed out that SFPD staffing levels are currently quite low. Many residents were astonished to hear that the Gang Task Force has only 12 officers now, down from about 45 in the mid- to late-2000s.

Police said they are doing the best we can with the resources available. They repeatedly stressed that the only way to move forward is with community participation, which may include providing statements and testimony when crimes go to trial.

Police also emphasized that video cameras have dramatically transformed how crime is investigated and prosecuted. Sidewalk-facing cameras  on private homes are an invaluable resource, and officers encouraged residents to be proactive about reaching out to investigating officers to provide footage after incidents occur. Being proactive saves a lot of time, they said, because officers don’t have to go knocking on every door to find videos.

Several neighbors — including the wife of man beaten in the Coleridge incident — complained about having experienced a slow or indifferent response from SFPD beat officers when trying to report crimes in-progress.

Captain McFadden said that if police are slow to respond, Bernal neighbors can escalate incidents by calling Ingleside Station directly at (415) 404-4000 and asking to speak to the  PC — the Platoon Commander. There’s always one on duty, and the PC oversees all activity in the precinct during  each shift. Tell the PC how long you’ve been waiting, and be very specific about the problem.

Neighbor Sarah from BernalSAFE also attended Monday’s meeting; here are her notes, for addition detail:

Notes from SFPD Community Meeting
October 17, 2016


  • Captain McFadden – Ingleside Station
  • Lt. Caturat – Mission Station
  • Sgts. Brown and Lao – Gang Task Force

Capt. McFadden (Ingleside Station):

  • Recent incidents at Bernal Dwellings, Precita Park, and numerous locations in the Mission are believed to be gang-related (possibly MS-13) and not random. Gang Task Force is investigating each.
  • Call in suspicious CONDUCT (not appearance) when you see it; don’t just post on Nextdoor. Can call 911 (crime in progress) or non-emergency dispatch (553-0123) for suspicious activity – e.g., drugs, casing cars, etc.
  • If an event occurs, be proactive about sending in video or giving an eyewitness account – be specific. Captain McFadden will take your video personally –
  • The recent events seem to be gang activity carrying over from the Mission – retaliation, etc. Coleridge Mini-Park assault was not gang-related. Alemany homicide also not gang-related.
  • Q from audience: wife of man assaulted at Coleridge Mini-Park said many neighbors had called 911; slow response and victim/witnesses discouraged from filing report. Captain McFadden said to call Platoon Commander for slow response – 404-4000.
  • Q from audience: do we have enough cops? Currently 104 at Ingleside, down from full staffing levels.

Lt. Cataract (Mission Station):

  • Incidents are related; victims were targeted.
  • Believe activity started a few months ago; investigations are active.

Gang Task Force:
Sgts. Brown and Lao focus on Mission-based gangs.

  • Nortenos and Surenos – way more Nortenos than Surenos (50-60 Nortenos for every Sureno).
  • Recent activity is Nortenos feuding with other Nortenos; MS-13 possibly involved.
    Many MS-13 jailed in mid-2000s. Activity picking up again in LA and SF.
  • GTF has 12 people total, down from peak of 45.
  • Precita Park victim had Norteno ties. When gang members are victims, they often don’t cooperate.
  • 2 recent shootings in Bernal Dwellings under investigation.
  • Gang activity tends to have peaks and valleys. Right now seeing a peak.
  • Recruiting age for gangs is middle school.
  • GTF works with federal task forces.
  • For a city of its size, SF’s gang problem is bigger than you’d expect.
  • Community involvement helps cases go all the way to prosecution (witness accounts, video). Mentioned a law that allows GTF to testify for you in preliminary hearings if you’ve given video, so you don’t have to appear until jury phase.
  • Cameras very helpful. Proactively call station if you have video – saves time in investigation.
  • Gangs less obvious these days in terms of dress/gang colors/etc. Now more concerned about being fashionable than representing their allegiances.


Q: Has there been an uptick in robberies overall?
Not relative to normal levels.

Husband of woman robbed on block with a series of similar robberies – they gave video, witness accounts, etc. & didn’t see much action from police.

Q: Do Mission & Ingleside share reports?
Yes, every morning.

Q: If you have a bad experience with an officer
Get the officer’s name and badge number and report to captain. Many of the officers on the streets now are new to the force, so they still have a lot to learn

Q: What does SFPD do when there’s gang activity?
Additional patrols, more undercover officers.

Q: How does the Gang Task Force monitor gangs?
Now involves social media (Snapchat and Instagram) in contrast to past.

Q from store owner on Mission: Is there gang graffiti to look out for?
If you see likely gang-related graffiti, take a photo and send in to 311 or (he’s graffiti officer). Gang graffiti typically Roman numerals or numbers, won’t be artistic. E.g., XIV, 14, 22V (I think).

Community Groups Focused on At-Risk Youth:

Finally, and poignantly, this is what Neighbor Nina said she learned from the meeting, as shared in a Bernalwood comment:

These were my takeaways:

1. The police dept, including gang task force, is sorely understaffed and the staff they do have are too green to know wtf they are doing

2. It is no longer the job of police to serve and protect. Rather, it is to capture and prosecute. If they don’t think they have enough info to prosecute, they will not take time to capture. Relates directly to understaffing and inability to be proactive, operating in only a reactive state.

3. Dispatch has to prioritize calls, they get 50 or more noise complaints a night, that is why they are sometimes slow to respond. The police prioritize gun shots, robberies, etc over noise complaints. If you think it is going to escalate to violence, ask to talk to the PC (platoon commander) to have the call prioritized. (This relates back to being understaffed)

4. The police cannot keep us safe. They recommend dodging crossfire and reassure us that we are not the targets unless we are in a gang.

5. The last 5 MINUTES of the meeting, while people were leaving, was devoted to neighborhood groups who are actually doing the work that will protect us and keep us safe. The whole hour should have been dedicated to hearing them and learning how to get involved in their groups. The COMMUNITY is the way to PREVENT the violence. The police can’t do anything. We have to.

PHOTO: Capt. McFadden at the Oct. 17, 2016 Community Meeting, by Telstar Logistics

Barebottle Brings Beer-Brewing Award Home to Bernal Heights


This Golden Age for Beer in Bernal Heights is officially in full swing, with a handful of new craft-beer havens now open for business around the neighborhood. The Barebottle Brewing Company at 1525 Cortland opened just a few months ago, but it’s already emerged as a must-visit destination for beer lovers, who love it for the wide selection of tasty, house-made beers and the airy, comfortable space.

And now there’s another feature to celebrate: Barebottle just won a medal for making great beer. Team Barebottle explains:

The Barebottle Brewing Company earned a bronze medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition four months after opening it’s doors in San Francisco. GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and recognizes the most outstanding beers produced in the United States. The top three winners in the competition’s 96 beer-style categories were announced October 8 at the Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

Barebottle credits the success for its early GABF medal to its innovative approach to developing and brewing beers. “We’re honored to receive this award, and excited that our model is generating early results,” said Lester Koga, co-founder. “As homebrewers and BJCP certified beer judges, we use a competitive method and local inspiration to develop our beers, and so far, it looks like it’s working well.”

Barebottle was recognized in the Strong Ales beer-style category for its Coastal Red, a big Amber beer inspired by California Coastal Redwood Trees with, “hints of spicy banana bread, fig, and black currant” says Head Brewer Cortlandt Tocyzlowski, who developed and refined the original recipe first as a homebrewer, then as a professional brewer at Drake’s and E.J. Phair before coming to Barebottle as Head Brewer. “These big beers can flirt with being too sweet. I actually use 2 yeast strains: an English strain for 2/3rds of primary, and then West Coast Ale Yeast to help it finish fermenting out.  I think this give me that perfect balance of English body and esters, while the West Coast Ale makes it more crisp, less cloying.”

PHOTO: Barebottle Brewing on Cortland, by Telstar Logistics