Our New Top Cop Provides a Bernal Heights Crime Summary

While the rest of us were carousing on Cortland Street for the Summer Solstice Stroll, Citizen Sarah attended the San Francisco Police Department community meeting at Ingleside Station on Tuesday evening. Afterward, she did us all the great service of summarizing what transpired. There’s tons of detail to digest, but this is must-read information, so let’s dive right in:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, 6/21/11

This was the first meeting led by the new captain, Daniel Mahoney. He started on the job three weeks ago. He spent some time on his background. He has been with SFPD for 29 years, and he was on the night watch at Ingleside about 10 years ago. In the interim, he worked at the Hall of Justice in various capacities, including head of the special investigations unit and commander of the Office of the Chief of Staff (which oversees community relations, internal affairs, legal, etc.). He also holds top secret clearance with the FBI. He was the other finalist for the chief job that was ultimately offered to Greg Suhr. He came across as a very senior figure, if that makes sense — someone who is very experienced with the entire police system and infrastructure. Ideally, this will be positive for the neighborhoods that make up the Ingleside District.

He considers his policing priorities to be (1) responding to emergency calls well, (2) solving crimes, and (3) community policing. With respect to community policing, he said that arrests alone don’t solve problems – you must have community involvement to do so. His approach to solving problems involves both education and enforcement.

Other attendees at this meeting were Captain John Feeney, head of the night watch at Ingleside (and overseeing the entire city), 7pm-5am; Ed McMahon (no, not that one) from the Office of Citizen Complaints, which oversees complaints against officers; and Chief Rubenstein of Fire Battalion 9.

Crime Update:

I asked about the May 11 Holly Court homicides, and he could not say much since the investigation is being run out of the main SFPD investigations unit and they are restricted on what they can reveal. I also asked about the May 23 manhunt in Bernal (involving a CHP plane and heavily armed SFPD officers), but it was before he started, and he did not know about it, so the mystery will continue for now.

I also asked about the thefts of succulents and other plants in Bernal, and he was not aware of them. PLEASE report these if you have experienced such a theft – call 553-0123. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Reporting all crimes is critical because so much of modern policework is managed via statistical analytics. No report = no data = no resource allocation.]  Another attendee said that succulents from the San Jose/Guerrero mini-park had been taken, and she had had a rosemary bush stolen from in front of her house.

Captain Mahoney discussed city-wide and Ingleside-specific crime statistics for the May 22 to June 18 period. In general and in Ingleside, crime is down. The exceptions are robberies and automobile break-ins. Robberies continue to involve iPhones and other electronic devices. He called the ubiquitous white earbuds “attractors” that signal to a thief that you’ve got something valuable. People leaving BART stations continue to be targets. The typical situation is that the robber will spot someone walking alone and then rob them one or more blocks away from the BART station, especially on a less-trafficked side street. There have been two recent robberies on Thor, which is off of Chenery in Glen Park – one was at 5pm and the other at 12:30am. The captain is deploying decoys and plainclothes officers and also trying to figure out other ways to increase the police presence in these areas, given that they don’t have any additional budget to work with. He also mentioned putting decoys with iPads on MUNI routes that have seen thefts.

Auto break-ins continue. Shaved keys that work with older Japanese cars (Honda, Toyota, Nissan in particular) are used most of the time – there are few actual break-ins with these cars. If you own one of these, he said to get an engine-kill switch and/or a steering-wheel club. If you have a GPS device, thieves will break in if they see the disk mount on the dashboard, even if you’ve removed the GPS unit itself. They will assume it is in the car somewhere.

He mentioned two good arrests – one on Alpha Street in Vis Valley, when an elderly woman called 911 during an attempted break-in, and the police caught the burglar and tied him to a recent armed burglary in the Bayview. The other robbery occurred on the 3100 block of Mission on Monday night, when thieves stole an iPhone 4. The victim had the Find My iPhone app, which then allowed SFPD and the victim to follow the phone to 14th and Valencia, where the police arrested the robbers.


Captain Mahoney said he is not a fan of vehicle enforcement to raise revenue for the city, but he will do it in so far as it promotes public safety. He plans to have pedestrian decoys (decoy pedestrians?) at various crosswalks to catch cars that don’t yield. He also wants the officers to focus on the five intersections with the most traffic accidents, one of which is 30th/Mission. Finally, he plans to undertake a distracted-driver campaign to catch people texting or using their phone sans earpiece. He does not mind having this information out there, he said, because his goal is to get people to stop doing the targeted act (texting, not yielding, etc), not to issue tickets.

Of particular interest to the Bernal community is that Captain Mahoney is trying to restore, even partially, some level of foot patrols on Cortland. There is no new money for this, but he proposed, for example, having officers park on Cortland and walk around for an hour or so to make sure that they are known to and connecting with members of the community (vs. driving around for their entire shift).


There is a Police Commission meeting in the community next Weds., 6/29, at 6pm. The meeting is in Vis Valley at 450 Raymond Street. He said there would be plenty of security at the meeting.

There was some discussion of staffing at Ingleside. The station has 109 officers with a goal of 115, which is unlikely given the budget and impending retirements. He said that in the next three years, 500 SFPD officers will be eligible for retirement; meanwhile, because of budget issues, there are NO police academy classes scheduled for 2011/12. During his interviews for the chief job, Captain Mahoney advocated hiring trained officers as lateral hires from all of the area police forces that are doing major layoffs (e.g., Oakland, San Jose) because it is an opportunity to get excellent officers who require much less training (and therefore expense). He is concerned about how SFPD will deal with the America’s Cup in 2013, which will be a 44-day event and will require a great deal of security.

Chief Rubenstein from Battalion 9 spoke about emergency preparedness. He encouraged everyone to go to www.72hours.org and get prepared for an earthquake. He also encouraged people to become volunteers for the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) by undergoing NERT training and certification.

THANK YOU, Citizen Sarah for this amazing report.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

What Is the Sound of a Tree Falling on Eugenia Street?

Koan: If a tree falls on Eugenia Street when all the neighbors are home, does it still make a sound?

Answer: Absofrikkinlutely!

Reader Danny sent us this dramatic tale of gravity-induced mayhem and neighborly solidarity that occurred last night, along with the essential post-disaster photograph:

Sorry for blurry night-picture, but rest assured the entire United States of Eugenia and Bonview were out taking more pictures for quite some time after it fell. Hopefully somebody managed to take a pic that conveyed the majesty of the fallen giant, which is currently blocking both theoretical lanes of Eugenia.

It’s actually just one of the bigger branches of the eucalyptus trees that line this block. One neighbor, who was heaving an axe at the obstruction within minutes, and who gave his name as “John Bunyan,” said the trees were planted in the seventies by another long-time Bernal resident, “who was feeling civic-minded.”

The eucalypti still mostly tower over the houses here, but they have a bit of a reputation for sudden falls from grace. Last halloween the same tree shed another branch, falling on a (fortunately well protected) pick-up truck.

This time was even luckier. The branch, which was about forty feet long and pretty hefty, managed to fall neatly into the one open parking spot on the block. Even though Eugenia is blocked, no-one was hurt, and the top fronds are only lightly draping themselves on the car parked on the other side of the road. Still, somebody is in for a shock when they wake up tomorrow.

In case you want a little warning when a tree falls near you, here’s the sound it makes, as heard by most of the street. First it sounds like “somebody stepping on cardboard boxes,” then “a bunch of firecrackers going off, but a bit too quiet.” Then comes the crash, and the impromptu block party when everyone comes out to see what the hell just happened.

The 311 case number is 906301. Not sure if it’s this the final death-knell for the rest of the tree, but we’re all looking a bit more cautiously at what remains.

PHOTO: Reader Danny (top), Reader Jason (below)

Skip’s Tavern Reborn as The Lucky Horseshoe

Formerly Skip's, Now Lucky Horse Shoe

Formerly Skip's, Now Lucky Horse Shoe

Formerly Skip's, Now Lucky Horse Shoe
In the grand tradition of velvet-rope stagecraft and buzz-building, the new owner of the former Skip’s Tavern on Cortland opened her doors for the first time during last night’s Summer Solstice Stroll to give the neighborhood a sneak preview of what’s to come.

Construction is still underway, and proprietor Lisa Marie told Bernalwood that the bar will officially open on Saturday. Meet Lisa (with apologies for the sub-par pic):

Formerly Skip's, Now Lucky Horse ShoeThe plan, she says, is to install some additional acoustic insulation, with an eye toward securing the coveted entertainment license that’s required to offer live music (again). More details as we get them, but in the meantime, Christopher over at Mundohood is also excited about Lisa’s plans to offer specialty and seasonal beers.

UPDATE: There are new updates about what makes the new Lucky Horseshoe promising, and old reminiscences about what made the Old Skip’s great (not necessarily in that order) over at Mundohood. Check it.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Star Sighting: Mayor Ed Lee Visits Bernal’s New Mini-Park

Mayor Lee

Vista Pointe Gardens

Hey there celebrity-spotters! Guess who dropped by Bernalwood yesterday? Why, it was our very own interim mayor, the Honorable Ed Lee! The Mayor was here to take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our fabulous new Vista Pointe Garden mini-park on Bernal Heights Boulevard, and it was a very sweet little event.

Truth is, however, even though the Mayor is famous for his side-splitting charisma, drop-dead sense of style, and spectacular singing voice, the real star of the show was project director Julian Wyler, who spearheaded the volunteer effort to make this glamorous new park a reality. Say hello to Julian:

Vista Pointe Gardens

This is Mayor Ed giving Julian a well-deserved Certificate of Honor:

Vista Pointe Gardens

Then Mayor Ed and Julian cut the grand-opening ribbon with giant clown scissors:

Vista Pointe Gardens

Afterward, Julian and the Mayor had a bromantic moment:

Vista Pointe Gardens

But seriously… Immense thanks go out to Julian and all the volunteers from Friends of Bernal Gardens who helped make this new park possible. It is truly an impressive feat. And thanks to Mayor Ed for making the trek to Bernal Heights to recognize that fact.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Trove of Historical Photos Show Streetcars in Bernal Heights

Cortland Avenue at Bennington Street, 1940. Red Hill Books is now on the corner at 401 Cortland. Discount Club is now where the "Drugs" sign is at 439.

Cortland Avenue at Andover Street, 1941. The 9 Valencia line car heading west. The woman waiting to board the car is in front of what is now Head to Toes Beauty (451 Cortland ), Skip's Tavern (453 Cortland Ave.), and Bernal Yoga (461 Cortland Ave.)

Mission near 29th Street, 1948. Behind the car is the Lyceum Theater (1907-1964), now the site of the Safeway parking lot

Last week’s talk at the Bernal Public Library about the history of streetcar service along Cortland Avenuewas really excellent. Interesting, informative, and a vivid reminder of how the texture of the neighborhood is so heavily shaped by its infrastructure.

Plus, as an added bonus, historian and presenter Jack Tillmany gave everyone who attended his talk a nifty souvenir: MUNI streetcar transfers from 1946 that were marked for use along the former 9-Cortland line:

Cool! Happily, if you couldn’t make it to the talk, our neighbors at the ever-awesome Bernal History Project have compiled a fabulous greatest-hits collection of photographs that show streetcars in service along the streets of Bernal Heights.

Hop on board and take that website for a ride.

HISTORIC PHOTOS AND CAPTION TEXT: Bernal History Project. Transfer photo: Telstar Logistics

Pint-Sized Entrepreneurs Peddle Premium Sidewalk Perfume

Locavore Perfume

Locavore Perfume

Once upon a time, children learned business basics by selling lemonade to sidewalk passers-by. But not anymore — and not in Bernalwood.

Today’s young entrepreneurs aim highter. They have an eye for style, a clear bead on the urban lifestyle, and a shrewd desire to move up the value-chain. So why sell cups of lemonade for a quarter when you can sell cups of homemade floral perfume for a buck instead?

Last weekend I noticed that Hattie, Lidia, and Bella have set up a self-serve perfume stand on Prospect Street (near Virginia) to sell their own, all-natural, locally produced Behali Perfume. What’s Behali Perfume, you ask? Quite honestly, I have no idea. I even looked it up on the Google, and came up with nothing.

Then it hit me: Behali Perfume must be the brand!!!

That’s right: Not only do these nano-entrepreneurs have their eye on the luxury market, they also understand the importance of establishing a distinctive identity in a crowded marketplace. Sure, the kids have some work to do in the typography, spelling, and logo departments… but check out the actual merchandise, which the girls arrayed on the sidewalk right below their sign:

Locavore Perfume

As you can see, Behali Perfume is already thinking about package design. Wow. Wow. Wow.

If you’d like to support these kiddie capitalists, look for their products on a finer sidewalk near you. Watch out, Kiehl’s. Beware, Body Shop.  The rest of us should probably get in now, while the price is still affordable… before the IPO, and before we find ouseselves in the awkward position of having to ask Hattie, Lidia, and/or Bella for a job.

UPDATE: Herr Doktor theorizes…

Behali = BElla, HAttie, LIdia… or at least that is my guess.

Woa. Further proof that those kids are pretty clever.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics