Neighbor Chuck B. Goes on a Thoughtful Bernal Photowalk



Bernal neighbor Chuck B. is the keeper of the lovely My Back 40 (Feet) blog. He’s both a horticulturalist and a shutterbug, which is a winning combination. Recently, he went on one of his occasional photo-strolls through the neighborhood, starting on Bernal Heights Boulevard:

I love that we still have dirt roads around here. Alabama Dead End. It’s like a Lucinda Williams album cover.


He’s right! Your Bernalwood editor took some artistic liberties to complete the thought:

Later, Chuck B. discovered the mysterious wonderland that is Precitaville:

Precita Park. In all the years I have lived in San Francisco (on and off since 1989) and in Bernal Heights particularly (continuously since 2003), I have never been here before. But I drive by a few times a month. This is sooo north side. I am very south side. We can be friends, but we can’t be best friends.

Precita Park

Then he wandered west, fearlessly, into the wilds of the La Lengua Autonomous Zone.

I know hipsters were buying Dickies and trucker hats at Arik’s at least as far back as the 1980s. There was a different kind of hipster back then.

IMG_5864He paused to (wisely) appreciate the architecture of the 3300 Club building:

I love the building above it. San Francisco has a finite number of these beauties and everytime we lose one in a fire a little piece of my soul dies with it.


Then he discovered a superb street garden on Coleridge:

What an inspiration this is for making a big impact in a small space. I have a planter like this and went big with the spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis) and a ground cover of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana). It’s nice, I like it, but this is fabulous. I had to back up to capture the whole thing for you.


All this is just a sliver of the wonderfulness spotted during Chuck B’s photo walk, so by all means go see the whole thing at My Back 40 (Feet).

PHOTOS: Chuck B./My Back 40 (Feet)

Test Drive an Electric Bike on the Fearsome Folsom Challenge

The New Wheel, that newfangled shop on Cortland that sells those newfangled electric bikes, is having their grand opening celebration this weekend.

There’s a party in the store at 420 Cortland on Sunday night from 6 to 9 pm, but before that, from 5 to 6 pm on Sunday, the New Wheel is offering everyone in the neighborhood the opportunity to test drive an electric bike on the (fearsome) Folsom Street Challenge.

Yes, that’s right. The New Wheel has picked up the gauntlet Bernalwood threw down last January by making a few of their electric bikes available for you to take straight up that crazy-steep part of Folsom Street:

Let’s take a more technical look, courtesy of Strava:

Store owner Brett Thurber is confident his machines are up to the challenge, and if you know any fixie-loving hipsters who want to go head-to-head with an electric bike in a John Henry-style race to the top, by all means bring them along too. (TIP: Don’t tell said hipsters how the story ended badly for John Henry.)

To participate, meet up at the corner of Precita and Folsom beginning at 5 pm on Sunday, and hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Paint-A-Tile Fundraiser for the Bernal Library, Saturday

Neighbor Demece from Precita Valley Neighbors sends along this announcement about a craft-based fundraiser for the Bernal Library mural facade:

Precita Valley Neighbors invites you, your family, your dogs to the…

Paint-A-Tile Fundraiser at Precita Mural Eyes!

Who: Fundraiser for the Precita Mural Eyes’ Mural Facade on the Bernal Library! Donations of $100 per tile are 100% tax deductible. All materials supplied. Limited tiles available.

What: You can paint a tile and be a part of history!

Where: Precita Mural Eyes at 348 Precita

When: Studio sessions are 10-noon and 1-3pm this Saturday March 31st only

RSVP: precitavalleyneighbors at yahoo dot com or Precita Mural Eyes 285-2287. Please
reserve a studio session if you prefer the 10-noon or 1-3pm.

Unmoved Vehicle Generates New Life on Folsom

Neighbor Regina lives on a section of Folsom Street that does not have weekly street-cleaning parking requirements. Sometimes vehicles park on her street for a long time… so long, in fact, that enough time elapses for new forms of life to enter the world. Regina captions:

A “tree” grows in Bernalwood, in the back of truck that hasn’t moved for a month. With a life preserver.

PHOTO: Neighbor Regina

Time-Lapse Video of Dramatic Sunday Afternoon Clouds

(PRO TIP: For maximum dramatic effect, play this link through your headphones while watching the videos in this post.)

The clouds were dramatic Sunday afternoon, so I went looking for a slightly different angle to capture Bernal Hill, Sutrito Tower, and Mighty Sutro with time-lapse clouds as background. This view features a blue tarp, for extra enjoyment.

In the afternoon sun, though, the view to the east from the hill was even more dramatic. There’s some circulation apparent here, with the foreground clouds moving north and the background clouds moving south.

Above is a Sutrito sunset from the weekend before last, St. Patrick’s Day, I think.

Monday night (March 26), I tried to get the Moon/Venus/Jupiter trifecta, but never caught a glimpse of Jupiter through the clouds:

Bernal Dads Fight Foul Weather During Absurdist Car Race

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

For the Bernal Dads Racing Team, all those years of experience gained while making harried grocery runs on Cortland finally came in handy. The Bernal Dads had a big endurance race in Sonoma last weekend, but it rained and rained and rained on Saturday, so the Dads donned their snorkels and took to the track despite the difficult driving conditions.

The star performer turned out to be “The Whale,” No. 245, the Dads’s battle-scarred 1984 Volvo station wagon. Like its marine mammal namesake, The Whale was extremely comfortable in the water. It was impressively stable, the brakes worked brilliantly, and the car was even kind of, sort of fast:

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

Meanwhile, the Dad’s other car, The Molvochero, No. 243, revealed the results of its radical weight loss program. With the rear part of the roof hastily sawed off last week, the former “Molvo” — a Mazda Miata with a Volvo station wagon shell awkwardly welded to its exterior — now resembles one of those old Ford Ranchero cars with a pick-up truck grafted on to the rear end. Hence the new name that’s almost as cumbersome and inelegant as the vehicle itself: “The Molvochero.”

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

Day Two was more promising, as the rain stopped and the sun attempted to make an appearance.

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

This video shows the Bernal Dads Molvo vs. a crappy Ford Rustang. Molvo wins!

By the end of the weekend, the Bernal Dads had put in a valiant showing: The Molvochero had fallen out of contention, but The Whale took the checkered flag in fourth place in class, and 19th overall — a pretty solid performance for a race that began with 171 cars competing. Pumped up with adrenaline and too many huffed hydrocarbons, the Bernal Dads posed for this calendar-ready team portrait at the end of the race.

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

The Bernal Dads brought the sexxxy, but another Bernal dad turned in an even more glamorous performance last weekend. Neighbor Alex von Wolff lives in Bernal Heights and captains The Hasselhoffs, a separate race team that divides its loyalties between Bernal and the Mission District. Driving a 1992 Toyota Paseo that’s covered from bumper-to-bumper with rave-surplus prismatic sparkly tape, the Hasselhoffs earned a victory trophy after coming in first in their competition class.

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

Afterward, Team Hasselhoff posed for a victory portrait, with a proud Neighbor Alex presiding atop the Paseo’s tired roof. Congratulations!

24 Hours of LeMons at Infinion

Lots and lots and lots more photos from the Bernal Dads’s weekend of motorsport madness, right here.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Your Bernal Heights SFPD Crime Report for March 2012

Car 040

Neighbor Sarah, who graciously covers the Bernalwood Crime Beat, attended the SFPD’s Ingleside Station Chief’s Meeting last week (so you didn’t have to). Here’s her summary of the latest Bernal Heights crime news. You are advised to read the whole thing, as there are some very important bits about police staffing that may warrant political action, and if you insist on using your cellphone while walking down the street, we suggest you make things even easier for local thugs by wearing a signboard that says, “Please Rob Me!” Read on for full details:

Edie Vargas Williams and I attended the captain’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, 3/20. Please be sure to read the section on staffing because the captain is asking us to contact Supervisor Campos if this issue is important to you. Edie took great notes that I am posting here.

Captain’s Report given by Captain Daniel Mahoney, 3/20/12,


Ingleside currently has 112 officers, down 10% from 2 years ago. In the next 3 months, two Ingleside officers with 64 years of experience between them will retire. Normally, retired officers are replaced by new recruits, but there has been no police academy class this year. In SF, 267 officers are committed to retire by June, 2014, with an additional 150 officers eligible for retirement, including Captain Mahoney.

The chief has an aggressive plan to recruit and train new officers (asking for 4-5 Academy classes next year), but there is no guarantee of funding by the Board of Supervisors. Even if he were able to start recruiting right now, it takes time to develop working officers: weeks of recruitment & testing, 27-weeks of academy classes, 17-weeks on-the-job training and probation.

What happens if we don’t get new officers? Many cities have had to change the way they operate due to loss of officers. For example, Oakland doesn’t respond to property crime or burglaries unless there’s someone in your house right this second. Sacramento had to drop its gang task force. San Francisco may have to eliminate foot patrols and other proactive crime-prevention programs just in order to have officers in cars to respond to the most serious crimes.

What can we do about this? WRITE THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS and ask them to approve the police chief’s request for funding. Bernal’s supervisor is David Campos:, 415-554-5144.


Aggravated Assaults: 24 incidents / 16 arrests / down 29% from last month / up 26% ytd. Notes: All were domestic-violence-related, and behind closed doors.

Robberies: 18 incidents / 8 arrests / up 6% from last month / down 31% ytd. Notes: 90% of victims are lone person walking on the street and using a cell phone. Stop using your cell phones in the street!

Sexual Assaults: None

Burglaries: Trending up. 28 incidents / 5 arrests. Up 22% from last month, down 5% y-t-d. Notes: Two trends…

1. “Hot prowl” burglaries, where burglars break into homes with people in them. Last 3 incidents – burglars were African American males (different people each time), victims had decoration in front of house that indicated Asian occupants. Suspects knocked, victims didn’t respond. Suspects thought no one was home, kicked in the door, hurt the resident. Captain suggested that if someone tries to break into your house when you’re there, you should yell out, “Is that the police?”

2. Business/home with surveillance equipment: multiple burglars seemed to have been aware of surveillance camera: they cut the line, then steal the camera or any backup CDs/hard drives that contain the surveillance video. This happened at Pizza Express last month.

Auto Theft: 39 incidents / no arrests. Notes: Up 5% from last month, down 44% ytd, but remains a really bad situation. (see additional info/commentary below)

Theft from Auto: Notes: People drive to parks and get out to walk their dogs – burglars watch and break into their cars when they see the owners leave. Captain tries to direct resources towards hot spots. One hot spot has been Mansell and Shelley in McLaren Park. The captain ran an operation where officers watched this area and made an arrest.


Burglary in a residence on 200 block of Nevada Street. 3 people broke in, but because of an alert and quick-acting neighbor, they were caught. The neighbor called 911 and was able to give detailed descriptions of the people, the car, and license. Police broadcast the info every four hours and officers in the Bayview stopped the car. Burglars still had stolen stuff in their car. If they hadn’t had the detailed information from the neighbor, they would not have closed this case.

Bicycle thefts are high. Where’s the most common place for bikes to be stolen? In a gated entrance way or inside a closed garage: Recently thefts — 4 lower Mission, 6 Noe Valley, 6 Bosworth at Mission, and Ocean.

Stolen cars. If you own a Honda, don’t park in the Outer Mission, or near the border area with Daly City, especially Florentine, Ellington, Cayuga, Whipple Streets. 90% of stolen cars are 1990s Hondas. Thieves take them for transportation – using shaved keys. The good news is there’s a 98% recovery rate in San Francisco, since they drop off the cars when they get where they’re going. Recoveries are often made on Mission, Cortland, and Precita in Bernal Heights. Ingleside will be partnering up with the captain of Mission station to put plain-clothes and uniformed officers out for a full-day, targeted task force to try to get it under control. Police will put out decoy/bait cars and check up on car thieves out of jail or on probation.

Working together. Shooting last week on MUNI bus at Towerside in the Sunnydale. MUNI video showed a youth had just gotten off the back of the bus, while another stood on the bus steps and shot him in the back. Plain-clothes and uniformed officers plus gang task force IDed the shooter. Gang and Violence task forces had the shooter, an 18-year-old, under arrest within 4 days. Youth didn’t die despite having his femoral artery shot because we have great hospitals and get crime victims there quickly. MUNI has excellent video surveillance and can retrieve video quickly. The incident had to do with gang activity between the Towerside and Sunnydale gangs.

Traffic enforcement and education activity. Officers will be going out to enforce pedestrian safety at Noe and Church @ 30th in Noe Valley/Glen Park and in Balboa Park near the park and BART station. They’ll also work on speed enforcement on Alemany and San Jose.

The Captain tries to add an education component to enforcement campaigns. Ingleside has brochures explaining the reasons for the laws, and officers hand these out when they stop cars for running red lights, pedestrian awareness, cell phone use, bike safety, etc. They will be doing an education-only (no citations) campaign for bicyclists as well, followed by enforcement after that if needed.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics