Futuristic Airship Scouts Locations for Bernal Air Terminal

Neighbor Catherine spotted the Airship Ventures Zeppelin NT yesterday as it made an early-evening cruise over Bernalwood. She says:

“Blimp, Bernal, Sunset…. Ooooh!”

Ooooh! Definitely. But “blimp?” Well, not quite. For those keeping score at home, the Zeppelin is a rigid-framed, steerable dirigible, not a balloon-like blimp. (For a closer look at this Zeppelin, here are some photos I took during a flight aboard it in 2008.)

But what was the Zeppelin doing over Bernal Heights? There can be only one answer: Scouting potential landing zones to convert Sutrito Tower into our futuristic Air Terminal of Tomorrow!

PHOTOS: Neighbor Catherine

Vote: Which Costumed Canine Is Cutest of All?

Remember the doggie fashion show organized by fitBernalfit during the 2011 Holiday Stroll on Cortland? Well, the dogs showed up to strut their stuff, and many photos were taken, so now it’s time for the Citizens of Bernalwood to decide which dog is cutest of all.

The vote is happening at Fit Bernal Fit’s page on the Facebook:

Please vote only ONCE by commenting under the picture of the the dog you think should win the 2011 Holiday Winter Wear Competition, not just liking the photo. Each comment counts as a vote (only one vote per person please). The winner will receive an on-location Dog Portrait photo shoot within San Francisco from Photography by Jean Pedigo.  A $250 value! Voting ends Dec. 31st!!!!

This means that come next week, when you’re sick of hanging out with your family and relatives, you can slip away to the computer for a few minutes to review the canine competitors and absorb a little cuteness. Review the 2011 fBf Winter Wear Competition album, and cast your vote!

PHOTOS: fit Bernal fit

Your December 2011 SFPD Bernal Heights Crime Report: Crooks on Cortland, Car Thefts, and a Busted Burglar

SFPD Harley

Bernalwood’s intrepid volunteer scribe on the Police Beat, Reader Sarah, attended the SFPD’s Ingleside Station Community Meeting on Tuesday night December 20. Here’s her excellent summary of crime-related issues in and around Bernal Heights.

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, 12/20/11
Captain Daniel Mahoney led the meeting.

Capt. Mahoney has been conducting “Safe Shopper” programs in the district since Black Friday, and these will continue until January 2. This entails increasing visibility via foot beats, bike beats, undercover officers, motorcycle police, and sector cars on the merchant corridors, including Cortland. In addition, they send officers onto MUNI lines. There’s lots of theft from automobiles because of packages left inside.

I asked about the recent spate of thefts from merchants on Cortland. He mentioned several thefts that involved ruses – like when a couple of people come in and ask for something, and then while the person in the store is getting it, they take laptops, iPads, etc. He mentioned incidents at Rock Candy Snack Shop, Piqueo’s, and Martha Brothers. So the key message to merchants is to watch out for these ruses/diversions, and I suppose we as shoppers can also keep an eye out when we’re in stores. There were three of these kinds of incidents just last weekend.

These are from the period November 20 to December 17. % Change Month refers to the change vs. the prior four-week period.

Crime/# Incidents/% Change (month)/% Change (YTD)/# Arrests

Aggravated Assault/25/19%/-29%/16
Sexual Assault/1/0%/38%/0 (note: 11 for year vs 8 last year)
Auto Theft/49/-5%/-12%/0
Theft from Auto/46/-18%/-8%/0

Aggravated Assaults refer to shootings/stabbings and domestic violence. The majority of these incidents were domestic violence.

Robberies are down YTD for the first time this year. He has tried to be aggressive on robberies – using decoys, etc.

Lots of cars are stolen from Precita Park and Bernal more generally. They’ve found many cars in the Outer Mission. They think this is people “borrowing” the cars for a day. There has been a series of Auto Theft Task Force operations, including the IDing of several parolees in the Ingleside (who were convicted of auto theft in the past), and officers are working with parole officers to do home visits, etc. The captain started having all recovered cars dusted for prints so they can ID who has been in the cars. Thefts the past two weeks are way down for some reason.

There is a new trend in car thefts where the thief takes the registration and insurance cards, which can lead to identity theft and later burglaries (since the home address of the car owner is known).

Ingleside made one significant arrest related to burglaries. Captain Mahoney credited Officers Almaguer and Hauscarriague. They worked with investigators to ID fingerprints from a burglary. They found the guy and arrested him. He confessed, and then they searched his house, where they found lots of stolen driver’s licenses, checks, passports, etc. They ended up being able to close seven open cases.

Captain Mahoney continues to run pedestrian-safety operations. Recently, they did one at Mission and Lawrence involving five separate traffic stops. They issued 37 citations. This came about because a parent or staff member from Longfellow Elementary called and asked the station to do this since it was a danger for kids/parents going to and from school. I wanted to highlight this since some of you may have identified similar issues that could use attention.

I asked about the recent homicide on Justin Dr. He said that because it was an open investigation, he couldn’t comment, but the suspect appeared to be “mentally challenged” and is in custody. I also asked about the Mission rapist, and he reiterated the information that has been out there – attacks on solo women, two in the past two months, early morning hours.

One thing that came up in the questions from the attendees was what to do if your wallet is stolen. The captain’s opinion is that you shouldn’t cancel your credit cards for a few hours because usually the thieves will buy gas, and basically every gas station has video cameras, and this is very helpful to the police. He conceded that the credit card companies would disagree with this approach.

Someone asked about what to do if you encounter someone dumping stuff. The captain said that if you see it IN PROGRESS, call the police. If you come across dumped items after the fact, call DPW.

Ken Craig from NERT came to talk about safety and self-defense. He pointed out that he holds three grandmaster-level black belts and still tries to avoid confrontations where you NEED to defend yourself because you don’t know what your opponent is on (meaning drugs) or is carrying. He handed out safety whistles. The convention for alerting others that you need help is THREE SHARP, SHORT BLASTS. Also useful if you’re stuck in rubble after an earthquake. In that case, one whistles means YES, two whistles means NO, and three means HELP. The sound of whistles carries much farther than human voices.

He handed out a brochure on self-defense that used the acronym BEWARE.

B: BEFORE you go somewhere, think about your routing and what you might encounter.
E: EVADE – as soon as you recognize a dangerous situation developing, do anything to avoid it. Run away, change routing, etc.
W: WARN – warn your attackers that you will defend yourself. Most attackers are cowards and are looking for an easy target.
A: ATTRACT – attract attention of others around you and make them aware of your situation. Shout “fire” instead of “help” because people may be more likely to assist.
R: REACT – when all else has failed and you cannot get away or get assistance, you must react.
E: ESCAPE – your goal should be to escape from the situation as quickly as possible and immediately report it to authorities.

Ken suggested leaving yourself a voicemail or writing down details about the attacker as soon as you can get away from an incident since your memory will fade. If someone wants your property, give it to them. The case where you should NOT be compliant is if someone is trying to get you into a car or take you to a secluded area.

Community Patrol USA is holding self-defense seminars in January at the Eureka Valley Rec Center – for more info, email info@CommunityPatrolUSA.org or call 415-967-3080.

NERT is also starting up its training sessions again in January – see for dates and locations: http://www.sf-fire.org/index.aspx?page=879. These are free.

Three holidays are coming up – Christmas, New Year’s, and MLK Day. Staffing can go as low as 80% of normal now, and the holidays are often a time when it does. Crime is typically lower then anyway, but he wanted us to be aware of the staffing issues SFPD is facing. They lost all eight probationary officers and got three officers back, but still a net loss. Occupy SF still requires 24-hour coverage and Ingleside sends one person every seven hours. They send two to Critical Mass next week. They send two to every 49ers game and, when requested, send officers to the hospital to monitor prisoners (the sheriff’s department no longer does this). So his point was that staffing is getting tricky with so many external demands.

Foot beats are the first thing to get cut when resources have to be diverted elsewhere. He is now having officers do split beats – e.g., Geneva/Mission corridor, then Cortland. These will continue to be a challenge. 267 officers are retiring by June ’14. They lose nine captains and 17 lieutenants in June ’12, 100+ sergeants and inspectors in June ’13, then officers. The Police Academy has a class of 50 graduating in April. The captain said that when he started 30 years ago, there used to be a class every seven weeks.

The next Ingleside meeting is January 17.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Gift Guide: A Homegrown Toy, Developed in Bernal Heights

Need a last-minute gift idea for the kids in your life? Neighbor Matt contacted Bernalwood to tell us about the educational toy he created:

I live on Anderson Street, 13 years now already. Back then I was making computer games. But then the powers that be began looking into making even the golf games violent. I knew it was time to move on. I took time off and pursued patenting something that was the opposite of the computer game: battery free; non electronic; hand held; educational; and real. My effort took 10 years. I founded Twisterz Toys 2 years ago. We are now in 250 retail stores across the country, and in Barnes and Noble, and in 7 countries. We’ve won several awards, and our reviews have been excellent. This might all sound good, but we remain on the brink. My biz partner and I chose a tough time for a start up toy company.

The closest retailer that sells our toys is Peekabootique in Noe Valley. Check us out if you’re looking for battery free edu-toys for kids 3-10.

Want to see it in action? Here’s the promo video:

Bernal Cutlery: A Sharp Perpective

During a recent reconnaissance patrol on YouTube, Bernalwood uncovered this spiffy new video from Bernal Cutlery, the knife shop tucked inside the marketplace at 331 Cortland:

Bernal Cutlery opened for business in 2005 and specializes in all things knife related. Using time-honored Japanese Whetstone grinding techniques—and finishing by hand with a modified version of an old fashioned Barber’s strop—it offers peerless sharpening services, as well as very high caliber new knives, collectable and vintage models, classes in care and sharpening as well as hosting sessions on knife skills.

This approach results in edges that are sharper, longer lasting and produce far less metal removal making for less wear on the knife. As opposed to fast but aggressive dry grinders and belt sanders, which remove unnecessary amounts of metal and are prone to producing enough heat to ruin a blade, often producing ugly scratches and marks in the process. Japanese whetstones not only are the preferred sharpening medium for fine Japanese knives but are superior for all types of cutlery.