Artist Captures Dog vs. Gopher Confrontation on Bernal Hill

Neighbor Laurie, who has a wonderful propensity to paint watercolors instead of snapping photos, brings us this terrific image that captures the Wild Kingdom drama of a canine/rodent confrontation on Bernal Hill. She writes:

This dog was staring intently at a hole on the west side of the hill, which was inhabited by some small rodent (a gopher?) that kept poking its head up and then ducking back down again. I was amused by the idea that this large muscular dog was completely powerless to catch the tiny rodent.

The Lost History of the Oldsmobile Dealership on Army Street

An interesting bit of Bernal Heights history recently surfaced on the blog of Hemmings Motor News, a national website for serious automobile collectors.

As part of a regular feature on defunct car dealerships, Hemmings profiled the former Lesher-Muirhead Oldsmobile in San Francisco. Truth be told,  I didn’t recognize the site when I first saw the photograph, but Lesher-Muirhead was the original developer of the property on the corner of South Van Ness and Army (Cesar Chavez) that’s now home to McMillan Electrical Contractors and our new, artisinal AutoZone auto parts store.

Hemmings says:

As is the case with most old dealership images we’ve run across lately, this mid-1960s postcard of Lesher-Muirhead Oldsmobile in San Francisco comes to us from Alden Jewell. And like many other dealerships we’ve researched for the Lost Dealership Project, Lesher-Muirhead’s history isn’t as straightforward as one photo would lead us to believe.

At the time the photo was taken, we’re rather certain that Lesher-Muirhead was owned at least in part by Edgar J. Fleck, a German who fled his native land for the United States before World War II. We’ve yet to find out when he bought into the dealership, but according to his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, by 1974 he held enough control over the dealership to move it away from its location at 1515 South Van Ness Boulevard and into a new facility at 780 Serramonte Boulevard in Colma, south of San Francisco. It was there that the Oldsmobile dealership remained (at some point prior to 1980 renamed Serramonte Oldsmobile) until it was dissolved in 1993 by its then-owner, Tom Price, who appears to still own the Oldsmobile dealership’s successor, Stewart Chevrolet Cadillac. […]

Interestingly, property valuation references for 1515 South Van Ness, the location in the photo, show that the building was erected in 1948. That building still stands today.

Fun! Judging from the vintage of the cars in the (obviously heavily retouched) postcard, it would appear that the photo was taken roughly around 1965. And obviously, the building that now houses the AutoZone was erected in the former used car display lot on the corner sometime after the dealership closed in 1974.

Here’s a (somewhat dated) Google StreetView image of the site, for your then-and-now edification:

And here’s a closeup of the former dealership building:

Bernal Heights Progressives Adopt Resolution Supporting Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi

This week the progressive Bernal Heights Democratic Club issued a resolution in support of Ross Mirkarimi, the San Francisco Sheriff who was suspended from his post after pleading guilty to one count of false imprisonment stemming from a dispute he had with his wife on New Years Eve. The Huffington Post carries the tale:

In a resolution passed earlier this week, the Bernal Heights Democratic Club has officially come out against Lee’s filing of misconduct charges against Mirkarimi and called on the mayor to reinstate the suspended sheriff to his post.

The resolution passed immediately following an appearance by Mirkarimi at the club’s Tuesday evening meeting.

“A friend of Mirkarimi’s called us up and asked if we would invite Ross to come speak. We extended an invitation for him to come and he accepted,” club president Tom Gallagher told The Huffington Post. “He talked about the whole story and how he was going to keep fighting…He seemed determined although he did break down a couple times. It seemed like a very difficult performance for him. It may have been one of the first times he’s really talked about what happened in a public setting like this.”

Noting San Francisco’s long-standing reputation for tolerance and forgiveness, the club argued in its resolution that, “the alleged misconduct stems from an incident that took place prior to Sheriff Mirkarimi taking office and was not in relation to his duties as Sheriff…Whereas Sheriff Mikarmi and his wife and child have been publicly humiliated and disempowered by a criminal justice system that seemed more intent on getting a conviction then helping a couple that was having marital problems.”

The resolution goes on to state, “the charge of ‘conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers’ is vague on its face and would leave a cloud of fear and suspicion over every elected and appointed official in a City that has a legacy of free speech and action.”

So to review: The progressive Bernal Heights Democratic Club believes that the problem in the Mirkarimi case is the “vague” wording of the misconduct charges, NOT the behavior of an elected law-enforcement official who became a criminal after he admitted guilt in an unfortunate case of domestic violence. It is tempting to call this sort of logic self-parody, but that would be deeply unfair to many of Bernal’s hard-working comedians.

PHOTO: Luke Thomas via Fog City Journal

Brand New “Bernal Heights” EP Inspired by Bernal Heights

Okay, this is fun. The Chocolate Penthouse are an electronic music duo, and for a time they lived (and recorded) in Bernal Heights. The result was a brand new collection of music that they’re calling the Bernal Heights EP:

Here it is, after 3 years of sitting on my harddrive, I am pleased to release The Bernal Heights EP. The Bernal Heights EP contains some of the very first Chocolate Penthouse Songs. Julian and I would spend a good part of our practice walking around Bernal Heights, we would explore the many staircases, gardens, and spectacular views. The music is noisy and quirky, we had always wanted to play dance music, but neither of us had a dance music background. However, we like synths and distortion, so those two things together became the cornerstone of our songs.

You can listen to the whole thing (for free!) on Soundcloud. But for an immediate preview, we bring one track from the EP, called Bayshore Sunset. Here are the liner notes:

Bayshore Sunset is tribute to Bayshore Blvd. Blazing trees at night on the 101 overpass is f*cking great. You get the solitude of being away from everyone, the buzz on 101 below you, and the vantage point of looking out on to Bayshore. Bayshore comes alive at certain times of the night, especially when the clubs start getting out. People dip into the jack n box, there are line of cars out the lot and on to the boulevard, everyone feeling good trying to get their eat on before the next adventure. This song captures the beauty and grittiness that is Bayshore Blvd.

Final Redistricting Plan Welcomed by Lost Tribe of College Hill

In the comments to our recent post about the redistricting proposal for the Dominion of Bernalwood and District 9, Neighbor Erika posted an excellent summary of the final redistricting plan — and why it’s a welcome thing for Bernal residents who live between Mission Street and the Bernal Cut. Her summary was so good, in fact, that we are reposting it in its entirety here:

What Beyond Chron called “Glen Bernal” is really the College Hill neighborhood of Bernal Heights. We mostly ID as Bernal, but so many Bernalwood denizens have snorted at our historically accurate claim that we College Hill residents have jokingly nicknamed our hood “Glernal.” And it’s particularly apt now that we’re part of Supervisor Wiener’s D8. Yep, we joined D8. Here’s the final map, settled over the weekend and published today.

This boundary shift into D8 was consciously requested by several neighbors and the College Hill Neighborhood Association for a few reasons:

1. Now we have one supervisor covering both halves of the Bernal Cut greenbelt path, the paved walking and biking trail that runs above both sides of San Jose Ave. On the Bernal side, it starts at St. Mary’s and climbs up and past College to Richland, Park, and Highland, and then back down to Appleton at Mission. It has great potential as a free community recreation resource (see our “Heal the Cut” efforts here), but for years it’s been tough coordinating cleaning-and-greening efforts because it was split between both D8 and D9. (The trash and crap—literal crap—are mostly on our Bernal side of the path, but Glen Park residents have to look at it). Neighbors have enjoyed working with both Supervisor Wiener’s and Supervisor Campos’s offices and with DPW on clean-up efforts, but we look forward to the entire Cut falling within just one supervisor’s district.

2. Now our D8 boundary at Mission St. better mirrors SFUSD’s “neighborhood school” boundary, which points College Hill kids who want a local English (instead of immersion) program to Glen Park Elementary instead of to nearby J. Serra Elementary (which was “redistricted” in September 2010 to soak up more kids in South Bernal). Here’s SFUSD’s Attendance Area map.

3. Now South Bernal has two supervisors covering its streets and its denizens, and we like the thought of 2 supervisors (Supervisor Wiener and Supervisor Campos) caring about our corner of the city.

Bravo Neighbor Erika! Her excellent executive summary clarifies the logic of moving College Hill into District 8, while also affirming the area’s longstanding allegiance to Bernal Heights. (The SF Chronicle also has a political analysis of the final redistricting plan.)

One final note. To be clear: The Dominion of Bernalwood does proudly include The Lost Tribe of College Hill in our sovereign domain, independent of any divergent supervisorial allegiances, and even as we apologize for any inadvertent periods of neglect. Bernal Über Alles, and all that.