Fiesta On the Hill Cancelled as Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center Struggles With Change

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This story was reported by David Young and edited by Todd Lappin

For as long as many can remember, Fiesta on the Hill has been a Bernal Heights tradition. Organized each year by the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center (BHNC), Fiesta on the Hill is a time when Cortland Avenue shuts down to traffic to play host to a sprawling street party that fills Bernal’s main street with a colorful cross-section of neighbors, families, bands, merchants, food stalls, community organizations, and kiddie rides. Fiesta usually happens in October. But this year, it’s been canceled.

“Fiesta on the HIll was our annual fundraiser, but for the past several years the organization has actually paid out more to put it on instead of it being a fundraiser,” says Gina Dacus, BNHC’s new executive director, “Where we are as an organization is, we have to really be cognizant of our finances.”

The cancellation of Fiesta isn’t the only sign that BHNC is rethinking its priorities. Last year, BHNC executive director Rachel Ebora left the organization abruptly. This year, BHNC shuttered Gifts on the Hill, the thrift shop it operated from a BHNC-owned storefront next door to the organization’s headquarters on Cortland. Most worrisome of all, when the devastating Cole Hardware fire ripped through four buildings at the foot of Bernal Hill on June 18, BHNC was conspicuously absent from efforts to organize assistance for the fire victims — even though the fire took place across the street from Coleridge Park Homes, the BHNC-operated affordable-housing facility on Mission Street above the Big Lots store. The fire left 56 Bernal residents homeless and facing an uncertain future, until activist Edwin Lindo, the Mission-based Mission Economic Development Agency, and an ad hoc group of Bernal neighbors stepped into fill the void by organizing fundraising drives that raised $140,000 for the fire victims. (Lindo is a BHNC board member, but his fundraising effort was undertaken independently.)

Together, such incidents and absences fuel the perception that the BHNC has become a diminished organization. “Basically, what happened is that BHNC got stale,” says Buck Bagot, a longtime Bernal activist and original co-founder of BHNC during the late 1970s.

Though few are willing to comment publicly, some observers point to systemic mismanagement as root cause of BHNC’s woes, while others claim the Center failed to keep up with the times. Cortland merchants say BHNC has become disorganized and aloof. Left-leaning activists point to the gentrification of Bernal Heights as proof that BHNC’s has failed to fulfill its core mission to “preserve and enhance the ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity of Bernal Heights.” Newer Bernal residents say BHNC’s political agenda is part of the problem, as BHNC uses its resources and connections to oppose the construction of new housing in Bernal Heights.

Undeniably, however, BHNC’s most urgent concern right now is to get its finances in order. Since the Great Recession, BHNC has struggled as revenues plunged 43% between 2008 and 2014:

bhnc-yearlyrevenue

As funding sources shriveled, BHNC was slow to reduce expenses, and the result was a  series of painful years during which the organization operated deep in the red.  In 2009 alone, BHNC recorded a massive net loss of $383,000 due, in large part, to a sharp decrease in contributions and grants. The steep losses continued until 2014, the most recent year for which filings are available, when BHNC managed to eke out positive net revenue of $555:

bhncnetrevenue

In September 2015, the San Francisco City Controller placed BHNC on a list of nonprofit contractors receiving City funds that do not meet the City’s financial monitoring standards. With 16 such findings, BHNC ranked third on the list of noncompliant organizations, which Controller’s office says “can signal potential instability in the organizational and financial health of a nonprofit – and ultimately an organization’s ability to provide effective and sustainable services to residents in need.”

Originally called the Bernal Heights Community Foundation, BHNC was founded in 1978, at a time when some Bernal residents sought to combat City Hall neglect, market-rate housing construction, and an influx of new residents moving to Bernal to take advantage of cheap rents and inexpensive homes. In the 1980s, the BHNC began working with at-risk teens and collaborating with St. Kevin’s Church to provide services to local seniors. In the 1990s, the BHNC spread beyond Bernal by launching community-service programs in Bayview/Hunters Point, the Mission, and Visitacion Valley.

Today, BHNC operates 15 publicly subsidized-affordable housing developments throughout the City, including the Bernal Gateway apartments on Mission at Cesar Chavez, the Market Heights apartments adjacent to the Alemany Flea Market, and the Coleridge Park Homes above the Big Lots on Mission. All told, BHNC manages 369 units that provide homes to 600 low-income seniors, adults, and youth.

Along the way, the BHNC has also been a key player in Bernal’s own brand of left-wing politics, and political action has always been an integral part of the neighborhood center’s agenda. The Bernal Heights Democratic Club, which still meets regularly in BHNC’s community room, was first established in the early 1980s by BHNC co-founder Buck Bagot. Over the years, many BHNC board members and staff have left the organization to work directly in politics.  In 2011 Joseph Smooke, who was BHNC’s executive director at the time, quit to pursue opportunities in the offices of supervisors Eric Mar and David Campos. Edwin Lindo, the former Frisco Five hunger striker and D9 Supervisoral candidate (and Cole Hardwire fire fundraiser), remains a member of the BHNC board of directors. Recent BHNC board member Sheila Chung Hagen now works as a legislative aide Supervisor David Campos’s office, and the ties between Supervisor Campos’s office and BHNC remain close.

In previous decades, this mix of community engagement and political connections helped BHNC win lucrative grants and public funds. A decade ago, BHNC established youth scholarship programs and completed two then-new affordable housing projects: the Crocker Amazon Senior Apartments and the Excelsior Teen Center. In 2006, BHNC reported that its membership had topped 1,000 — a 13 percent increase over the previous year — as the organization’s total revenues hovered at $200,000. At the time, BHNC published also published its own print newspaper, The New Bernal Journal.

Then came the Great Recession of 2008. The intense downturn transformed the economic landscape for nonprofit community organizations throughout San Francisco, and BHNC was caught flat-footed. 2008 was also the year Rachel Ebora began working with BHNC. Ebora started with BHNC as a community development coordinator, before becoming director of community engagement. In 2011, when Joseph Smooke gave up his post as BHNC’s executive director to pursue opportunities in City Hall, BHNC’s board chose Ebora as his replacement.

Critics say Ebora was chosen largely because of her political credentials, but BHNC’s finances didn’t recover after she became executive director — even as the overall economy began to improve and San Francisco entered a period of rapid growth. According to IRS filings, in Ebora’s first year, total grants and contributions fell by 20 percent.

Year after year of red ink explains many of BHNC’s recent cost-cutting moves. In 2014, the New Bernal Journal, which the BHNC had published since 1987, ceased publication. By 2011, the Center’s subsidized-affordable housing development projects had stopped altogether, beginning the longest period of inactivity since BHNC was founded. IRS filings reveal that BHNC also slashed salaries and compensation, which fell from a high of $1.8 million in 2009 to $1.2 million in 2014.

As the losses continued, Ebora left with little explanation in July 2015. Gina Dacus, BHNC’s director of operations at the time, was chosen by the board to serve as interim executive director. Throughout the second half of 2015, rumors swirled that BHNC was having a hard time finding candidates with both the managerial skills required to turn the organization around and the political alignment needed to win over BHNC’s board. (Dacus’s interim executive director position became permanent in July 2016.)

Staff turnover hasn’t been confined to the executive director position. In 2014, after a brief tenure as the director of membership and development, Adam Kinsey quit, leaving BHNC with no full-time staff dedicated to fundraising. According to executive director Dacus, BHNC’s board has hired a part-time grant writer to pursue more private funding. In addition, several board members are writing grants and assisting in renewed fundraising efforts. This year, Julia Bennett also left BHNC’s board of directors. Bennett had been seen as a reformer who wanted to bring more professionalism and financial discipline to BHNC’s operations, yet after her departure she was replaced on the board by Barbara Bagot-Lopez, a veteran activist, retired UCSF administrator, and sister of BHNC co-founder Buck Bagot.

Dacus acknowledges that BHNC is trying to rebuild. “We’ve reached huge milestones in terms of our recovery process. We feel more comfortable about the sustainability of the organization.”

Still, other remain keenly aware of the challenges ahead. “I feel like, around the time that Rachel came in, the organization began to recede,” says Buck Bagot, who served as the BHNC’s executive director from 1978 to 1982, and has remained an active member and community organizer ever since. “The board became a little distant. And Rachel, in these tough times, didn’t address the tough times as well as I wish she would have. You have to keep revitalizing.”

Buck Bagot considers BHNC’s financial problems to be more of a symptom than a cause of BHNC’s difficulties. The bigger issue, he says, is that BHNC hasn’t listened to the changing needs of the community. “You can never coast, you can never stand pat,” he says. “It’s very hard to get funding these days. I’m not saying the Neighborhood Center doesn’t deserve its funding, but if you aren’t a vibrant, active organization, continually trying to tap into your community and find out what they need and do what they need with them…” Bagot trailed off, shaking his head.

Dacus, meanwhile, insists BHNC still serves Bernal Heights and its surrounding neighborhoods. “Our community looks a lot different, but we’re still meeting challenges,” she says. “Neighbors who can no longer afford to live here still find ways to come to our senior program. We still feed 350 families in the Excelsior every week. We have over 400 families living in our properties that we currently have in our portfolio.”

She also cites a string of other BHNC projects that are underway, such as a youth leadership program that provides additional career services, and expanded senior services that include a health and wellness program.

Yet in the midst of an ongoing housing shortage, and after several years of financial struggle, some Bernal residents wonder whether this is enough. For them, what is at stake is not just a organization with deep ties to Bernal Heights, but the vibrancy of the neighborhood itself. They want a Center that will not only support the basic requirements of the community, but will be a vital force in the community, as it was during its early years.

To do that, BHNC will first have to address some important questions regarding its structure, management, and funding. Dacus acknowledges this. “We’re looking to expand our community development,” she says. “That’s an initiative that we have for 2016, because this is really teaching us the importance of pulling neighbors into all the changes that are happening in the community.”

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

43 thoughts on “Fiesta On the Hill Cancelled as Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center Struggles With Change

  1. Great article David and Todd. Very sad to hear about the fiesta being canceled, this event is one of my favorite Cortland activities! I wish there was a push to turn a profit from this event, I’m sure people in the community would appreciate it.

    “They want a Center that will not only support the basic requirements of the community, but will be a vital force in the community, as it was during its early years” – well said.

  2. I second that emotion. Having been on the board and coordinated Fiesta for awhile, BHNC has been the heart and lungs of the community. Smaller community organizations are vibrant too, and maybe, just maybe, that will encourage volunteers to dig in, hash out, and work together to make the BHNC take on a newer and stronger, and more flexible voice.

  3. Very sad to hear about the cancellation. One of my favorite events as well.

    It’s also very sad to hear of this organization going down the drain. Non-profits need to constantly fund raise, make connections, change with the times just like any business in order to stay afloat – many avenues of income. They need to hire someone in there with invaluable experience to turn things around. I have witnessed the decline of BHNC since living here. In general, I feel like they need more of a presence at events in the area to get their mission out. I never see them.

  4. The problem is that the BHNC consists of mainly Left-leaning activists who resist gentrification which has really actually made Bernal Heights a better neighborhood to live in. We need to embrace the new and not be rigid about wanting everything to stay the same.

    • I agree that BHNC has a left leaning political slant. And I’m not one of the newer residents to Bernal, having moved here in 1997. I do not feel that BHNC or the Bagits speak for Bernal Heights. I would like to see a more balanced conversation from all political perspectives, as well as representation of Bernal Heights in District 9 Supervisor.

  5. I am the new tenant for the BHNC retail space and will be opening an office, showroom and retail store for my artisan business 12 Small Things in October. I have lived in the neighborhood with my family since 1989 and also seen a lot of changes. The staff at the BHNC have been very welcoming and members of the youth program have already helped me with renovations. As a member of the Bernal Business Alliance, I also hope to be able to work with the BHNC on community projects and have fun together with Halloween and Holiday Stroll events. I’m excited for the possibilities and appreciate everyone’s good wishes who have stopped by the store and read my note. I love this neighborhood and feel very fortunate to have been chosen to rent 513 Cortland.

    • Ikanes,

      I stopped by today and read the note in your window. Welcome! I’ve lived on The Hill since 1975. I met my husband in Bernal and we raised our two sons here. So excited to read about your business. Please post your opening date in your window when you have one.

      Laurel

  6. Thank You reporters for this detailed story. Also thank you to all the activists who have built up and continue to support the BHNC. As a Bernal resident since 1978 I’ve seen the neighborhood go through lots of changes. BHNC still operates valuable programs, the best of which is its commitment to build and maintain dense affordable housing. I salute The community activists who have fought to fund and build housing. It has never been easy.

  7. This is difficult to digest. I grew up reading the Bernal Journal; submitting a poetry at age eight. Many summer days and weekends were spent in the center. When City Hall sponsored the MYEEP venture, which employed SF youth between 14-18 with employment, training and counseling. Every two weeks, we convened at the center for an education presentation and payroll disbursement. I love the center and my childhood neighborhood. I have board member experience, grant writing, fundraising and event planning skills/resources. I would love to join the Board of Directors. I firmly believe that Fiesta on the Hill can be scaled down to donations and sponsorship from the community. Find a row of homeowners near Bernal Park willing to open their homes for cooking, stretch out into driveways with pop-up food vendors, etc. It can be done. It’s up to the community to keep a fundraiser going. Let’s pledge to support BHNC in any way we can. I was two years old when she opened as a progressive, financially stable beacon of the neighborhood. Let’s bring her back full circle.

    Cheers to Edwin Lindo for stepping up, raising funds and awareness for the entire neighborhood—proactively seeking resources and representation for those in need—when leadership took a vacation.

  8. Thanks for a very through and well reported article, Todd.

    BHNC is still a pretty substantial organization, with revenue of $1.5 million, and in charge of 15 publicly subsidized-affordable housing developments.

    If BHNC could attract some more dynamic leadership, there are some great opportunities in the current environment for it to play an important part in the community, especially if it tried to bring the old and new Bernal folks together.

  9. Many thanks for this article, David Young. I’m sorry about the Fiesta on the Hill being cancelled. It was such a pleasant contrast with the larger, better known neighborhood street fairs, like a butter churn in a cocktail lounge. When my partner and I bought our Victorian two-flat in 1985, we attended every meeting to decide the fate of the abandoned bowling alley that occupied the 190 Coleridge lot. The BNHC did a fantastic job organizing all of us into a coherent force to combat the National Brands Paint Company’s plans to build a one story paint store there. The result is Coleridge Park Homes. But my question is why is it stated that BNHC “operates” that building? I’ve been on their list for a few years now, and plan to move in next year some time. But as far as I know it is operated by Bridge, which now is a major builder and administrator of senior housing, but in 1985 was just starting out. Exactly what role does BHNC play in the operation of that building and others listed in the article? Can someone shed some light on this confusion?

    • Tom – thank you for your great recollection of the Standard Brands fight and the wonderful result – 52 units of affordable homes for low income seniors. BHNC developed or co-developed those affordable units. But BHNC hasn’t built enough affordable housing to support its own management operation. So other nonprofits – BRIDGE and Caritas, Mission Housing Devt Corp’s management arm – manage them. Caritas could tell you the status of the waiting list. BTW, as was the case with every affordable unit BHNC has produced, NIMBY neighbors fought the developments, claiming the folks were building “projects” that would lower their property values. BRIDGE is also the co-develper and manager of the BHNC’s successful effort to rehab our two public housing devts – Holly Courts and Alemany – and keep them permanently affordable.

  10. This might be naivete on my part – I’ve only been in Precitaville since 2013 – but it sure sounds like Cortland would be a great candidate for a Sunday Streets route in 2017! (Or would involving the MTA ruin everything?)

    Sunday Streets are free events, and while vendors aren’t supposed to sell anything I think it’s OK to accept donations at booths. Stores along the route can conduct business as usual, too, so the Fiesta on the Hill fundraising activities and auction could still proceed.

    • I would not be supportive of Sunday Streets on Cortland for the same reason that Calle 24th no longer supports the venture-business dropped on those days. Fiesta on The Hill used to be a much smaller event. Perhaps we need to revisit starting small and growing the event in a sustainable way. I’m not a fan of the food trucks from Hayward. Perhaps we could figure out a way to incorporate incubator businesses from La Cocina. Sponsorship of the event is also very important.

  11. I have lived in Bernal 16 years. I have an autistic (currently working) 29 year old son who has been SSI/SDI. To find him housing is next project (we found him work with assistance of Dept of Rehab (state). Does anyone have an idea of where he can might long term subsidized housing with a roomate? Can BHNC help?

  12. BHNC is no longer viable because of its own “by any means necessary” tactics that go back to the Market Heights Project in which they ran a false and misleading campaign to inject this project into our community. The neighbors were opposed to this project primarily based on the notion that we lived on very narrow hilly streets that would not allow for much parking in our neighborhood that was already under pressure from Alemany Farmer’s Market. Rather than work with the neighbors, BHNC decided to run a referendum campaign which clearly stated that the project would specifically offer homes for sale and the people of S.F. agreed that this project for home ownership was a good and valid project. The Market Heights project was approved by the voters only then to have BHNC turn around and offer the homes as rental units solely. This betrayal of of voters and the residents of Southeast Bernal turned a lot of people off from the activities of BHNC. I used to belong and believed that they were there for all residents of Bernal. But the fact that they would lie and cheat their way to overturn local resident opposition was deplorable, and I could no longer participate in a group that used these tactics.

    Update: The traffic congestion in our part of the neighborhood has never recovered from the addition of all those units (the biggest building in Southeast Bernal) and that was one of the main points of contention. To put a building of that size on a main thoroughfare like Mission is one thing but never made sense for that tight little section of Bernal Hill. The BHNC organizers never wanted to hear that, and were determined to go against logic and the residents of the neighborhood. In 2016, S.F. needs housing of all types to be built but it also has to make sense…this is not NIMBY… it’s logic.

  13. The Board of Directors of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center is very proud of its many achievements in Bernal Heights and the Excelsior. Our staff and volunteers are doing great work meeting neighborhood needs in difficult times. We were very disappointed that the article in Bernalwood so understated our work with housing, youth, seniors, public safety and other neighbor issues. We will shortly be issuing a more full statement to better communicate our strong community work as well as opportunities for neighbors work with us to benefit our neighborhood including working to design Fiesta 2017. I am writing this as a member of the BHNC Board from the discussions of our Board resulting from the above mentioned article.
    Alan Fisher

  14. Please note: The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center continues to do a tremendous job serving thousands of low and middle income people through its hundreds of units of affordable housing; senior program; youth program; and community advocacy. I was not interviewed for this article.

      • This blog post is weird. Written by David Young but edited by the blogger … How much did you edit and can we find the author’s original work somewhere else? Perhaps it was written last year? Or why are quotes from eleven months ago being used as if they are said about the cancellation of Fiesta on the Hill?

  15. Tisk Tisk Bernalwood!!! This article should have came from a perspective of possibly helping the neighborhood center to coordinate Fiesta on the Hill (one of my favorite events). But instead you chose to slam down a community center. I guess it is easier to sit behind a desk and write negative things about people than to actually go out and do things for other people. As a Bernal resident of 4 years, I am always so delighted when I pass the Bernal Center and to see all the work they do with the elderly.

    Way to go BERNAL HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER. You still have this neighbors’ and community support! You will receive my donation check very soon!!!

  16. Happy the Fiesta Fiasco is over!
    BHNC would displace neighborhood residents on Andover and surrounding streets to allow their profiting from the poorly run event. It was only after a few of us banded together and pressured the SF DWP to overturn their permit several years ago that they reluctantly issued resident parking passes. Even the last couple of years it has been difficult to obtain these passes. Yes happy this saga has come to a close!

  17. Bernal Heights will always hold a dear place in my heart because of its vibrancy, community history, and the so many beautiful and dynamic leaders, movers, shakers, and families who live there. I wanted to respond mainly to clarify some of what’s been said in this post.

    1. Running a non-profit organization is a constantly challenging endeavor:
    As shown in the graph that appears to take its info from BHNC’s 990 tax filings, the last decade has been challenging for the organization. Fluctuations in donations and membership, staff transitions, and a generally challenging economic environment for San Francisco employers (including non-profit employers) to be competitive and able to provide jobs that can support and sustain staff members; while being able to cover the rising costs of benefits, insurance costs, and operating expenses for programs in an increasingly unaffordable city all contribute to precarious financial health. Those challenges were there prior to my becoming ED in 2011- and they remain to this day.
    2. It takes time to overcome organizational challenges. Thanks to the support and energy of the BHNC board- which during my time as ED, successfully raised the most significant amount of funds by the organization’s board over the last few years, and whose inclusion of new membership – including folks like Julia Bennett, Edwin Lindo, and others has helped create new subcommittees such as the Community Engagement Committee- incorporating non-board community members into guiding and supporting specific aspects of BHNC’s work. And while there were some board members that were consistently challenging because they constantly overstepped their governance role; and non-board member committee members such as Buck Bagot frequently engaged in bullying, disrespectful, and harassing behavior when it came to BHNC business – I remained focused on board and committee members who consistently provided positive and productive participation to the work. These all helped in efforts to reduce the deficits to seemingly meager revenue by 2014, but was in fact a significant accomplishment given the circumstances.
    3. Lastly, with regards to my “abrupt exit,” let me share how the actual transition timeline occurred – I had informed the BHNC Board Chair Johanna Silva-Waki in December 2014 of my intent to transition out of BHNC by the end of 2016. The two year notice, while seemingly long, was intentional because:
    a. I was cognizant of the amount of time it takes for senior staff, let alone Executive Directors to transition out of an organization. I wanted to provide BHNC with as much time as possible to have a systematic, inclusive, and well thought out leadership transition.
    b. I was aware that over the two year period there were other planned staff transitions such as those due to retirement, and wanted to make sure to be able to provide support not only for the departing staff, but for the organization during that time.
    c. BHNC was in the midst of evaluating its strategic direction, many program and new revenue opportunities, as well as the next phase in the housing development projects were gaining momentum. Again, all efforts that I felt would be hampered if the organization also underwent a major leadership transition simultaneously.
    d. I felt committed enough to devote 6 years as Executive Director of an organization I loved and believed in.

    Despite the above concerns and prioritization, the BHNC board informed me in the first half of 2015 that they were instead recommending that I transition by early September 2015.

    Understand that the months of April- June are intense periods for any non-profit organization in SF that receives city agency funding because it coincides with the latter part of the City’s fiscal year. These are also the months when major planning and work for a huge event such as Fiesta on the Hill takes place. I was additionally informed that the board intended to only have a two-week overlap between myself and any incoming ED as part of the transition process. By the time the board gave me their final decision, there would have been a little less than 3 months for the transition to occur.

    All of the above, and the board’s lack of interest in engaging in a process that not only recognizes the challenges of a thoughtful, intentional and inclusive leadership transition– and their ignorance of specific recommendations and requirements that I provided to them, made the prospect of a well-executed and collaborative exit very dim. At this point, I was extremely stressed out and demoralized. After consulting with many of the BHNC staff at that time, other trusted colleagues and community members, and my family- I prioritized my health and integrity, and decided to transition out of the organization in August, 2015.

    I am grateful for all I’ve been able to contribute and learn from my work at BHNC. Many of the community members, partners, and colleagues I gained from working for over seven years in Bernal and Excelsior remain in my sphere of trusted professional and personal community. I am honored of the work I continue to do to keep San Francisco a hospitable and welcoming place to live for immigrants, low-income folks, the elderly, young people, and working families. I am proud that in my last full year of Executive Directorship – BHNC was not in a financial deficit and was on its way to financial health. I regret that I was unable to have the kind of exit I envisioned when I first informed BHNC’s board chair of my plan to transition in 2014- but remain confident in the staff and community’s commitment to its mission.

    in truth and Bernal love,
    Rachel Ebora

  18. QUESTIONS: (1) Considering that the Fiesta is always held in October, why did the BHNC wait so long to talk about the financial problems? Had they gone to the community last year the engine could have been put into place to make the Fiesta work this year. (2) Why has the BHNC gotten into so many different projects? We notice that companies streamline all the time, eliminating businesses that aren’t a direct match with their core business, such as HP spinning off their computer and test instrument divisions into different companies. The BHNC is very successful as a landlord. Why must they also do lunch programs and kids’ activities? Those functions are all very different, requiring different kinds of fiscal and managerial expertise. I say that BHNC should spin off the lunch and kids’ programs to other groups and concentrate on housing.

  19. BHNC, can you please move the Fiesta back to the Bernal Playground? To keep it simple, and fun and a resource for community dialogue and cultural celebration? And if BHNC doesn’t, please let’s all consider how community groups can do a simple silly neighborhood fest. Please email PVN if your group shares an interest in pursuing a neighborhood fest. Better to be silly than bitter.:)

  20. Looks to me like Rachel Ebora’s post basically confirms that BHNC has been in organizational crises for quite a while – at least two years or so.

    From an outsider’s perspective, it doesn’t really matter who’s right on any of the “he said/she said” issues, but from everything I’ve heard here BHNC still doesn’t have it’s act together.

    One sign: if they can’t make at least a small profit on Festival on the Hill, they’re doing wrong.

  21. It would be great if you could go into detail on just how much it actually costs to produce Fiesta on the Hill. There are street closure permits, muni inspector fees to reroute the 24 line, trash fees, sffd permits for food vendors, health department fees for food vendors, actually paying off the grid for food trucks, temporary occupancy permit fees from dpw, security companies, no parking signage costs from sfmta, the cost of equipment rental for stages, sound systems for bands, payment for the bands… it’s not exactly a cheap event – we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. BHNC is a small non profit whose mission is to provide assistance to underserved in the community. if everyone loves fiesta so much, become a member of bhnc and help them organize the event – but also be engage at the center. there are a lot of great programs – this blog post misses A LOT.

  22. @Precita Valley Neighbors: You might be thinking of Bernal Childrens’ Day. It was organized by volunteers from the Bernal Heights Parents’ Group for 2 or 3 years between 2006-10 (I don’t remember exactly). It was discontinued as volunteer organizers burned out. If you’d like to organize a simple silly neighborhood fest, I’m sure you’d get support and maybe even enough volunteer effort to make it happen!

    • Hi BettyJ, Yes, that was a separate and very fun event our family also attended! Fiesta was in the Bernal Playground in the early 90s when BHBC sponsored it there. Easy to put back there pretty much, just for fun. And it’s still possible, if community groups are so inclined! Any other groups interested? Drop us a line!

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