Summary Notes from the Feb. 25 Community Safety Meeting at BHNC

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There was a community safety meeting at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center late last month, and Neighbor Edie took some rather thorough notes which we’re sharing here. Read on for encouraging updates on some recent high-profile crimes and disappointing news from the DA’s office about auto break-in arrests:

Bernal Heights Community Convening Meeting Notes
Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
Thursday, February 25, 2016, 6:00 pm

Welcome/Meeting Purpose
Ailed Paningbatan-Swan, BHNC

Important to have regular meetings so we can work together stay on top of issues…The Neighborhood Center will be hosting these meetings the 4th Thursday of every month.

Police Update by Captain Joseph McFadden

Esmeralda Stairs assault Update: people put in custody with the work of Bernal neighbors who looked for videos and witnesses. Booked not just the original person who assaulted, but his girlfriend who was also involved too.

Auto break-ins—Good Life and Other two arrests directly after the previous meeting, both felonies, reduced to misdemeanors and now back on the street. This is a problem that has happened with the past 4 people they’ve caught. These are primarily recidivists. Community pressure will help getting this situation turned around. Public needs to talk to DA, judges to make the point that letting them go doesn’t do any good. Send video, witnesses must agree to testify.

Questions and Answers
Q: Let’s keep a list of felons who are let loose immediately, track their cases, and go to the presiding judge and ask why they’re reducing sentences. (The Captain agreed to give us the police reports after some editing).

Q: Do you have a recommendation of video systems?
No – police can’t recommend, but SF SAFE has info.

Q: Why can’t you put bait in a car and arrest them?
Murphy’s law – when we set up, they sometimes don’t bite. Q: What happened to the video I gave the police a few weeks ago? Captain will check.

Archie Wong, Assistant District Attorney
The DA’s office has placed Assistant DAs with all the police stations to get to know the police and the area better. Archie Wong works with McFadden and Ewing in the Tenderloin. The Tenderloin CPD is planning to roll out cameras, and recommend getting the best quality you can, high mega- pixels and mega zoom, and night view. If you don’t get good images, they don’t help the police at all. On the Esmeralda Stairs assault, next court date is end of March, Judge Crompton.

Q: About the Good Life auto break-ins:
Sgt. Alvarez is tracking down white car involved, and she’s very persistent.

Q: Why do cases get reduced, people let out?
Depends on their past criminal history, what was stolen, the attorneys, the jury, the wording of the law.

Q: If someone’s on probation, can we ask the probation dept to send them back if they commit a crime?
Felonies are on supervised probation – standards are lower for sending them back to jail.

Q: Wouldn’t it be better to have health care, jobs, and education for people who criminals who come out and don’t have any other means of earning money?
There are a lot more programs in SF to help people, but there’s a lot more crime here. There are criminal gangs and families here, looking for Louis Vuitton and laptops. At some point, something has to click for people to want to get help.

Follow-up on previous meeting issues:

1. Holladay Avenue Caltrans property
Shane O’Connor, neighbor Live on Holliday, parallel to and right above 101 – close proximity to all Bayshore 101 activity, a magnet for illegal activity: lots of cars dumped, garbage dumped, homeless, people come to park in dark areas up to no good. Set up meeting with Campos HR, neighbors did a walk in the fence area belonging to CalTrans. Meeting with DPW, city agencies to see if there’s city interest in doing something productive with the abandoned area. Instead of being a magnet for garbage, mess, and crime, it could be a magnet for community participation and planning of a beautiful area that benefits the whole city.

2. Hot Spot walks : Tentative Dates
These consist of neighbors and representatives from city agencies checking areas that need attention cleanup or repairs to prevent crime and/or preserve public safety. Scheduled walks are: Region 1: Mon 03/14, Region 2: Thu 03/31, Region 3: Thu 04/14, Region 4: Wed 04/27

Supervisor Campos’ office—Hillary Ronen

1. Car Break-ins: after last meeting, learned Weiner and Yee had already had a city-wide meeting on the topic, so Campos called a follow-up. Mayor said there’s increase in break-ins all over the city, but most in District 6. City has focused their efforts using new crime-stopping techniques on the touristy areas. Campos asked for help for all city residents, since many have been broken in to several times.

2. Homeless Encampment at Cesar Chavez : it’s important for people to have a place to go so—otherwise they just move into the nearby neighborhood. It doesn’t work to throw away people’s belongings, and it’s inhumane.. This is a health, human rights, quality of life city wide-crisis. There was a meeting today to align all city departments to streamline resources and work together, but few new ideas or solutions—expanding Pier 80 is a short-term goal.

3. March 2 public hearing on Navigation Center, a full-service for homeless people who typically don’t want to use current shelters —this allows families/opposite sex partners, belongings, and pets, which are not allowed in current shelters (except for Pier 80). Here they get counseling, connecting people with social services and long-term housing, working to create stability in their lives. The first Nav Center has been open for a year in the Mission & has 75 beds, Mayor has praised it, but no new Navigation Centers are in the works. Campos putting pressure on Mayor to do more, smarter, faster.

4. Cesar Chavez and Potrero to meet DPW, homeless outreach team; will discuss how they can block off the space after the homeless are moved to shelters so they can improve the site; neighbors are welcome to attend.

Questions and Answers
Q: Have you worked with bicycle coalition?
t’s gotten challenging to use the bike path. Not yet.

Q: What about Pier 80?
It’s at capacity, all the time. You can have opposite sex partners, belongings, and pets, but there are no social workers.

Q: Are Nav Centers offering mental health, other social services?
Yes. It’s very hard for homeless to get services, but it’s very successful in the Nav Center, and there is a lot of demand. Great idea, and trying to get it implemented, but it’s very hard to make it all happen, especially with homeless persons’ lack of documentation. We also need a safe injection center and a wet house for people who haven’t stopped drugs and drinking yet. We’re having a problem with needles on the street.

Spotlight: DPW and PUC Charles Sheehan, Communications Manager, SFPUC SFWater.org

1. City converting over 18,000 lights to LEDs over next 5 years. City owns 60%, PGE owns 40%. However, it’s not always easy to put in new lights because not every neighbor wants them (shines in at night )

2. Holliday Ave. lights: PGE is responsible. 4 poles. Pretty bright already, but could ask for an increase to 150 watt bulbs

3. Cortland underneath highway. Some lights out, should have been repaired by now. Also two MUNI poles near residences, so they could support lights.

4. Pathway up from Andover to Bernal Heights Boulevard, possible to increase lights.

Questions and Answers
Q: What’s the best way to get a light in or increased?
Call 311 and put a request for lighting assessment, that puts it into the SFPUC queue to review and have lights added.

Q: Bennington and Cortland is a super dark area.

Neighborhood Projects—Working Together Edie Williams & Bobbie Cochran, neighbors

As a community we’re stronger if we get to know folks from all over the area, discuss our goals and concerns for Bernal, and then work together to get things done. We should work from a position of knowledge and action, rather than reacting fearfully and being victimized by unexpected crime or unsolved problems.

In the past, we’ve done hot-spot walks; the Bernal GO Team and the BHNC passed out flyers to let neighbors know how to protect themselves from theft; individuals and groups have worked with Rec and Parks to clean up the gardens and one neighbor even developed the garden walks to inform about native plants.

From January meeting survey:

What I like about Bernal:

  • Diversity
  • Nice Neighbors, great community
  • Bernal Hill, parks, weather, view, walkability
  • Shops & Services, Restaurants, Parks, & Library Parking

What I don’t like about Bernal:

  • Crime, violence, car break-ins
  • Gentrification, neighbors quarrelling
  • Not feeling safe walking
  • Trash, graffiti, dump sites
  • Parking

What else needs doing? Brainstorming Session Ideas from community

1. Get and share info on best cameras to use

2. Traffic calming in areas with the most speeding: Cortland toward Bayshore, Alemany

3. Mission between Appleton / Highland – not enough lights to see pedestrian stripes in the road or the pedestrians themselves.

4. Pedestrian safety working group? Tom Folks, DPT traffic engineer, is the best contact.

5. We can pay attention to problems and get them fixed if we all know how to use the system. The city works on data. Contact 311, explain the problem, get a CAD number, tell your friends to call too. There’s also a
new Blue 311 app you can use.

6. At Cortland and Coleridge there’s been ongoing robbery and destruction of plants, even those in pots too big for one person to take. Need to install motion detector lights on the house.

7. Clean up Cortland on both ends.

8. Use Next Door to post safety information.

9. Someone stole a bike from the bike shop on Cortland. It appears from the video to have been a crime of opportunity, and the woman doesn’t seem the type to ride this bike. Store owners would like the bike back, no questions asked. Will put up signs, see if anyone knows the woman who took it.

PHOTO: Capt. Joseph McFadden at BHNC, Oct. 20, 2015 by Telstar Logistics

3 thoughts on “Summary Notes from the Feb. 25 Community Safety Meeting at BHNC

  1. Charles Crompton is the judge handling the preliminary hearing in the Esmeralda case. He’s a democrat who used to be the legal director of the non-profit Glide Foundation in SF. I think we all know how this one will go.

    • Charlie Crompton is a smart, honorable, man who is also a very, very good attorney. It does no one any good to start making assumptions about what they think based on their own assumptions and prejudices. He spent 25 years working as an associate then a partner at some of the biggest law firms in San Francisco handling complex business litigation as well as doing pro bono work. He was at Glide for less than a year before being appointed to the bench in the last year. This city and this case could do a lot worse than have a judge with his qualities.

  2. There are literally hundreds of security camera brands. I have some experience with several. I’m happy to recommend HIK Vision (wired) for outside, Foscam (wireless) for inside and Blue Iris software for the controller. You also may want to add a POE switch for the HIKs.

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