WTF? Ugly Pile of Trash Dumped on Bernal Hill Reminds Us That Such Ugliness Was Once Very Common

Reader Tony, who captured this grim photo on the north side of Bernal Hill on Sunday morning, asks:

WTF? Too poor to pay the dump fee, so we dump it @ Bernal Hill? What’s SF coming to?

WTF is right. (CUE: Crying Indian) But if there is a bright side to the tale, it is that this pile of trash stands out as a relatively rare anomaly. Indeed, this wretched scene is less an indicator of what SF is coming to, than a reminder of how far it as come. After all, not all that long ago, Bernal Hill was routinely used as a dump.

Consider this recollection by Jerry Schimmel about what Bernal Heights Boulevard was like during the 1960s and early 1970s:

The hill was actually a large open wasteland under nominal purview of the Department of Public Works, known by most as DPW. The west and east quarries were in regular use as auxiliary dumps by citizens too cheap, poor, or lazy to pay for hauling or couldn’t manage the drive to Beatty Avenue. Neighborhood residents were among the offenders, if not the worst. I remember Gloria Jiunti at 44 Mullen Avenue once sounding off about a load of worn car parts: “Aw, take it up on the hill and dump it!” And her attitude was not uncommon.

Like the quarries, the roadside verge was and still is an easy place to leave anything from a stained, lumpy mattress to the aromatic leftovers of Saturday night’s blowout. Some dumpers put their trash behind the guardrail (and still do) in a guilty effort to hide it, making it that much harder to retrieve.

In 1966, street sweepers made regular trips to keep the boulevard clear, but in order to get a really big mess hauled away from the quarries, several residents simultaneously had to put the screws on DPW’s Army Street office.

So as grim as this weekend’s trash dump was, the fact that it is so unusual, and attracted so much scorn, is actually a sign of progress. That said, when I drove around Bernal Hill on Monday night, the big trash pile was still there. Ew. Looks like someone needs to put the screws to 311.

PHOTOS: Top, Reader Tony. Historic photos, Jerry Schimmel via Found SF

19 thoughts on “WTF? Ugly Pile of Trash Dumped on Bernal Hill Reminds Us That Such Ugliness Was Once Very Common

  1. I remember only a few years ago, piles of mattresses and household garbage regularly appearing overnight, especially on the north side of the hill. There was once an entire car that somehow made it to the western slope, and then had been lit on fire. Bits of the melted metal were still sticking to the pavement over there last time I looked.

  2. It looks like there’s a fair amount of paper in the garbage. Hopefully there’ll be something that identifies the person responsible for the litter and they can be billed for the cleanup costs.

  3. Not to pile on the complaints, but there’s also a small pile of garbage by the community garden on the South side. One way to potentially deter dumping would be to prune the trees, so the area has more light.

  4. I echo Unfed: really hoping the police are looking through the pile for clues as to who is the culprit. Just sickening.

  5. It really is sickening, and makes us all angry. What possesses people to be so lazy and feel entitled to trash our neighborhoods? Wouldn’t it be great if they were caught and publicly shamed?

    Same trash dumping occurs near one of our schools near 30th St. here in Noe V.

  6. Wow, hopefully there is something in that pile of junk to help identify the perpetrators.

  7. I was up there today and someone from the city was taking pictures. He said that in most cases it is too expensive for the city to dig through the trash to find a link to the perpetrator and track them down. It is sadly more cost effective to just clean it up and haul it away. However, in this case they believe there may be some asbestos – which makes it an environmental crime and the city is going to try to find the people that did this.

  8. Trash dumping is a fairly common occurrence on the bottom side if Holladay Avenue, in the northeast corner of Bernal. And bottle dumping. And condom dumping. And car dumping. And even speedboat dumping (once). The worst is when they go to the trouble of chucking it over the chainlink fence into the Caltrans territory bordering 101. Not only is it harder to remove the trash, but it also messes up the fence pretty good. Oh well, you take the good with the bad. Perspective, you know?

  9. A house on Winfield was just cleared out into a truck to make it ready for sale. Wonder if that was the contents?

  10. Pingback: Reminder: Bernal Hill is Not Your *&^%*@! Trash Dump | Bernalwood

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