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

The Bernal Dads Racing Team Is Off to the Races (With a New Sponsor) This Weekend

Bernal Dad Wrenching

Well, they got it done. It wasn’t easy, or pretty, but those handy fellas from Bernal Dads Racing managed to successfully transplant a new engine inside the old hulk of “The Whale,” their battle-scarred Volvo 240 race car. Here’s what the re-insertion looked like:

Wrenching the Whale

For a while it was touch and go. Just one week ago, the new engine was bolted in place, with all the wiring and hoses reconnected. But when the key was turned to start the motor, the Dads heard… nothing. The car wouldn’t start. And since a running motor is an essential prerequisite for a successful race car, this posed a big problem.

Luckily, the Dads have some mad mechanical skillz. After sleeping on the problem for a few days, one of them wandered into the garage to tinker around a little bit. Here’s what happened a few hours later:

Awesome sauce, indeed.

Tomorrow morning, the Bernal Dads Racing Team will haul their two race cars — the now-repowered Whale, and their mutant Miata-Volvo crossbreed “Molvo” — from their Bernal Heights workshop to Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma to take part in the Skankaway Anti-Toe Fungal 500, a two day race that’s part of the infamous 24 Hours of LeMons (as in “lemons”) racing series.

But the engine in The Whale isn’t the only thing that’s new. The Dads also have a new sponsor for this race…

Woo-hoo! What you’re seeing here isn’t another one of Bernalwood’s goofy Photoshop tricks; it’s the real deal. Plus, Bernalwood will be there to provide up-close coverage of this weekend’s race, because I’ve actually joined the Bernal Dads Racing Team as their newest driver. (GULP!)

So wish us luck. And if you happen to see the Bernal Dads as they leave Bernal Heights on Friday morning, give a wave. Or, even better, dress your innocent young children in flowing white robes, then send them out to line Cortland and shower the Dads and their janky racing machines with garlands and flower petals, in the manner of gladiatorial heroes departing for combat.

That would be nice.

New Sponsor

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics and Ben Buja

Pretty Home on Precita Sells Pretty Quickly at Pretty Price

For Bernal Heights homeowners, here’s an interesting (and encouraging) data point. The 3BR, 3BA house at 315 Precita, on the north side of Precita Park just east of Folsom, just sold for $1,275,000. Realtor Sabrina Gee-Shin says:

Everything about 315 Precita is wonderful — starting with the neighborhood.  This gorgeous home sits along Precita Park — a great place for picnics, neighborhood film night and walking your dog.  It’s a slice of Bernal Heights heaven and just a hop, skip and jump from the action in the Mission.

I represented the buyer of this lovely property.  It’s a 3 Bedroom, 3 Full Bathroom, 2,100 Square Foot home with meticulous attention to all sorts of details like lighting for the wine refrigerator, steam sauna with limestone tile, media room with integrated sound system, and a VAVOOM hood for the gourmet Viking Range stove.

It’s a sweet pad with sweet amenities, obviously, but it’s nice to know that despite all the economic turmoil, glamorous homes can still fetch a fair penny here in Bernalwood.


If you’er a potential home-buyer on the hunt for something more affordable, our friends at Curbed SF have tipped us off to a small cottage at 264 Mullen that can be had for less than $500K:

PHOTO: Top, via San Francisco MLS