About Bernalwood

Broadcasting from an elevation of 433 feet, Bernalwood is a community-powered news magazine about fabulous Bernal Heights, San Francisco.

“An interesting micro-local news source that is fun and funny and sometimes important.” – Neighbor Jillian

We love our neighborhood for all its glamour and grandeur, and we are militantly YIMBY.


83 thoughts on “About Bernalwood

  1. as a Ripley street resident in the fabulous world of Bernalwood…i could not be more excited about your niche in the sphere. cheers

    • Thanks for your reporting. I want to share this with you. I have yellow water coming out of my tap in Bernal Heights this morning. I ran the water for more than 10 to 15 minutes. It is not the pipes is the water itself. I have a picture and a glass with a sample of water.
      I was not really surprised because my home is in the area where San Francisco has started a project of mixing groundwater in with the pure hetch hetchy water. I am in contact with a group in the Liberty Hill Neighborhood that has been trying to get the supervisors attention about this issue.
      Can I share the picture with you of the yellow water? Here is a link to the Safe Water Coalition website that has been trying to get attention to this issue:


      I hope you can get some attention to this matter. Thanks for your time,
      We ndy Collins

  2. Wow, this is great. I lived in Bernal for three years, and recently moved to Davis (my hometown) for grad school. The irony is that Bernal is where I feel most at home. I’ll be living vicariously through this blog until I can get my ass back to SF. Well done!

  3. This is fabulous… I grew up on the hill and I’m glad it has so much support from neighborhood, I think Bernal is hands down the best neighborhood in the city…though I wont lie Protrero has better parking and is a close second.

  4. I love this site. I first moved to Bocanna Street in 1976 and half of the stores on Cortland were boarded up. It was scary to walk down the street after dark. Lots of drug dealing done behind the Library. Moved away for a few years and then moved back in 1984 and have been here since. It’s a wonderful NEIGHBORHOOD, something that is lacking in most urban areas and in much of San Francisco. We are lucky to have such a wonderful mix of people, stores, upscale & worker bee, lefty politics and concerned homeowners, babies and dogs. You are documenting its charm and quirkiness in a wonderful way. Thanks for all your work on Bernalwood. It’s great!

    • I grew up during the same time period. The drug dealing and boarded up window front came from white flight, regan bush economics and overall market economy shifts. But the neighborhood was much more open to freindly then now. families knew eachother, children played in the streets and the diversity of people was much more real, There are parts of the 80’s that reflected the ugle market forces and years of neglect and racism, but the 60-90 was a time in bernal that beautiful elements came together to make this a special place, bernal today is speical not becasue of the new wealthier and whiter white collar indivduals, its becasue of the blue collar artist, activist and open minded people who settled here in the name of justice and struggle, now its become a place of white washing and long diverse history of this neighborhood, are we now happt no more black people live here? or for that matter any working class people?

      • I agree with you Coyote. There’s an incredible sense of entitlement and smuggness in this new wealthier Hill that I find obnoxious. There’s a lack of appreciation and sense of history of this neighborhood – as if the new yuppies are the ones who put it on the map. I enjoy some of the new changes -it’s all very cozy. But what working class family can move into this traditionaly working class neighborhood, when a fixer-upper is $850,000? I mean, come on people!

      • Thank you Coyote! I grew up on Winfield from 79 to 99. the neighborhood might be safer but where are all the Natives? san francisco used to be a blue collar city. Halloween in Bernal when I was a Kid was bustling. Now a days my parents, who still reside in the house i grew up in, get next to no trick or treaters. I miss the old Bernal. Blue collar bernal

      • you nailed it. I lived on Richland avenue from 1955 to about 65, then moved to the excelsior district, then onto the haight ashbury. Anyway, my dad was a muni drive and drove the 9 Richland bus. He used to park in front of our house at 384 Richland and have lunch everyday. the neighborhood, and my friends were all different races and all welcomed into our home. Black, Chinese, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Italian, and many other ethnic groups. What the hell happened? We were all blue collar working class (I was too young then, about (between 5 -10 years old), but I had a huge paper route with the Examiner). Anyway, my sentiments to your beloved city. I now live on the other side of Sacramento, can’t afford to live in SF. You’ve heard the same story over and over I am sure, although moving back to SF is on my bucket list.


  5. I have seen many blogs..this is my favorite…love the name.
    I also appreciate the positive feedback on our store. (Chuck’s)
    Thank you.

    • I love that you stay open till 11:00!! You are the only ones on the hill that do and you save me so many times… and so many times to come! Thanks Antoinette!

  6. As usual, you all are doing a great job with this site. I enjoy it more and more every week. Have you covered that odd new construction at the corner of Bernal Heights Blvd and Bradford, where there is the start of a hill side terrace garden of some sort. I believe you have checked in on the garden, but what about that house? It’s got a million dollar view, for sure, but it looks like it went through three or four architects mid-construction. Anyway – keep up the great work. You make me love Bernal all the more all the time. Mike Hennessey

    • Mike, The corner lot you speak of is being turned into a garden thanks to a 60k grant from the city. A Bradford Street advocate worked his way through the bureacracy to get the grant. He also did the top half of MayFlower Street garden which is next to his home which is currently being rebuilt. Carol

  7. I gotta say, this blog is OUTSTANDING! I just moved to Bernal Heights last Fall, all the way from Boston, and am absolutely loving it here. I think this blog proves to me that I wasn’t just hallucinating about all the good stuff here. Keep up the great work!

    • What a coincidence – moved from Boston (Somerville) to Bernal last fall as well – arrived in mid-October! Loving Bernal as well!

  8. As a nine year resident of Bernal, so glad this site is here. Our wonderful neighborhood attracts creative souls! Keep up the great blogging!

  9. I’ve lived in Bernal for 27 years. It’s gone through a lot of changes ( most of them positive) over the years and I’m glad to see a site dedicated to it for the community. There’s still a lot of people in the city that have never heard of Bernal Heights or think it’s not part of San francisco. Thank you for your commitment to Bernal and it’s inhabitants.

  10. I’m a Gates Street resident for the past 28 years, and lived a few years before that in a Bernal Heights rental–raised my kids here and we all love this neighborhood!!

  11. So happy to have stumbled upon this blog! I recently moved from Boston to SF last October. Loving Bernal Heights so far!

  12. Is anybody paying attention to what is happening to the library? New “final” designs have been
    posted that are truly …. awful. And the BLAP committee is trying to get them manifested –
    through approval from the library commission and the arts commissons. Heads up alert!

  13. Dear Bernal Neighbors,

    My name is Gabriel Martinez, and I am the GED Coordinator for the Precita Center on the north slope of your lovely neighborhood. (For those of you who can’t place us, we are the building on Precita with mural in front.)

    In any case, I am writing to you because I would like to get you all involved in all that we do at the center–considering it’s a neighborhood center and you are the neighborhood, I think it’s a good match. As a way in, I’d like to invite you all to an event we are having this weekend (August 6th). It’s a show with poets, singers, and jazz musicians and all the money we raise at the event helps us help our GED students.

    Below, is a press release we’ve been sending out for the event. I’m hoping you might help me spread the word by posting this. I can also provide an e-flyer with graphics if that helps. The bottom line here is that we need your help, and going forward, we want to hep you in any way we can. This would be a great first step.


  14. Dear Bernal Neighbors,

    My name is Gabriel Martinez, and I am the GED Coordinator for the Precita Center on the north slope of your lovely neighborhood. (For those of you who can’t place us, we are the building on Precita with mural in front.)

    In any case, I am writing to you because I would like to get you all involved in all that we do at the center–considering it’s a neighborhood center and you are the neighborhood, I think it’s a good match. As a way in, I’d like to invite you all to an event we are having this weekend (August 6th). It’s a show with poets, singers, and jazz musicians and all the money we raise at the event helps us help our GED students.

    Below, is a press release we’ve been sending out for the event. I’m hoping you might help me spread the word by posting this. I can also provide an e-flyer with graphics if that helps. The bottom line here is that we need your help, and going forward, we want to hep you in any way we can. This would be a great first step.


    Here is the press release:

    We’ve all needed a hand now and again. And sometimes, you have the opportunity to give something back and even get something in return. Here’s that chance:

    On August 6th, Stories in the Making 2: A Benefit for the GED Program at the Precita Center is on. This program has served hundreds of students over the years, and this year we graduated 22 young people who are now going to college, in work programs, and are on their ways to better lives. But we need your help to keep this program growing. Poets like James Cagney, Myron Michael and Sojari Bradley are teaming up with musicians from all over the Bay Area to show us their support. Now all we need is you! There will be food and drink and a raffle, and all of it is for $5, which goes to paying for students of our GED program to take their tests.

    You can’t beat that with a stick!

    And with all the state budget cuts that we all hear about every day, your 5 bucks will go a long way to helping us keep this program strong and vibrant.

    So here are the details:
    Stories in the Making 2:
    August 6th @ The Precita Center
    534 Precita Ave. (corner of Alabama)
    Doors open at 7
    Open mic @ 7.30
    Featured performers start at 8.

  15. Any chance of getting more representation on the Holly Park side of Bernal? There is, for example, a new coffee shop opening on Richland tomorrow which would be great to push out…

  16. Hope you can help…..I am an ex-Bernal Heights resident and am trying to find out the name of a now closed Italian restaurant. I believe the last time I was there was in 2004 or 2003.

    It was on Cortland on the same side of the street and a block or two? from Maggie Mudd. They had an amazing bell pepper farfalle dish. I was hoping the chef had opened another restaurant somewhere.

  17. Over Christmas, I was wearing my (exclusive, glamorous) Bernalwood t-shirt around my dad’s condo in Virginia. “Isn’t that something Shakespearean?” he asked. “Something about Bernalwood and Dunsinane?” Close:

    Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
    Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane hill
    Shall come against him.

    • Hi Molly — How funny! I just ran across your post today (from December) and you just heard about Milano this week — kind of awesome. I will have to check them out. I remember Palatino too and that it was good 🙂
      – Jodi

  18. Love this site! Thank you so much for paying a daily homage to my hometown and my childhood stomping ground.. My mother and father were the only African American entrepreneurs in BH back in the 80s. They owned Wool Street Grocery. What an amazing time
    period. While I still love BH, I miss the diversity. I miss my latino neighbors who ran Arrow Pharmacy. I’m taking my grade school friend to the hill to reminisce. Ahhhh…Bernal Heights. I can’t afford to live right below the hill on wool and eugenia. Wah!

    • 94 Wool St., was “Shields Grocery” my dad Lenny Shields owned and operated this grocery store from 1945 to 1976. We lived above the store at 619A Eugenia until 1955. I still have great memories of living on Bernal Hts.

      • Woody,
        My family lived at 51 Wool St from 1970 to 76. I met your dad when I was 5 and we became good friends. He was always nice, cheery and kind to me and all the kids in the neighborhood. We all loved him and simply called the store “Lenny’s”. Lenny and I traded Hotwheels, he would save the ends of the bologna and salamis for me and he hid me behind the counter once when he got robbed. I didn’t realize what was happening at first but Lenny kept his cool and he kept me safe. Total hero to me. He really was a great guy. My brother and I were so sad when we went back, a few years after my family moved, to visit him only to find Lenny’s was gone. So happy to find your comment here, your dad had a big positive impact on the neighborhood. Known and loved by all.

      • Wow! My father purchased the store right after 76. I am still trying to reach the owners for purchase of the Wool Street Grocery sign which has remained after we closed in 88. Great memories of my neighbors ego lived above and bottom level on Eugenia.

  19. This is without a doubt the coolest blog in the city, a must-read each day. Love the hard and funny work you put into this. My folks from out of town think it’s a riot. So do I. Great job!

  20. Would have loved to send you this article but I could figure out ho to do that. so….

    The Sad, The Good and the Bad

    The Sad
    Whether she was physically assaulted, mentally disturbed or under the influence of drugs, the woman’s cries from Precita Ave. early Saturday morning were sad. As she and stumbled down the street yelling for someone to please help her, you could not help but me moved. She said someone had sprayed something in her eyes and face. She claimed se had been physically assaulted.

    The Good
    The plaintive sounds began at 6:00 A.M. from somewhere near the Precita Center between Alabama and Florida. Almost immediately a neighbor was out on the sidewalk to help. He called the police and told them the woman claimed to have been assaulted and seemed to be in plain. He also asked that they send someone right away because she seemed like she may be injured, or injure herself. The woman was inconsolable. Over the period of the next 25 minutes several neighbors took the time, many in robes or pajamas to come down onto the street to offer help and let others know that they had also notified the police.

    It is a great to live in a neighborhood where you know people will make the effort to help when needed. So many stories about crime and problems in our streets include messages about how bystanders and neighbors turned away or ignored the situation. Not to long ago and not too far from Bernal Heights a man dies after being stabbed. He dies on the street while people ignored him. Bernal Heightyites(?), Bernal Heightians (?) Bernalers(?), whatever we are called, we seem to conscientious, helpful people when put tot the test.

    The Bad
    At least 5 neighbor households claim to have called the police. The first call came around 6:05 A.M. To be generous, we will call it 6:10 A.M. details were given. At 6:25 the first police car finally showed up. Approximately 15 minutes passed from the time of the first call to the time “help” showed up. Now, I will make this clear. This writer is a big supporter of our police and other first responders. I believe they work hard and generally do a good job. But, 15 minutes for an urgent call like this is unacceptable.

    Whether the limited number of officers assigned to our area were otherwise engaged, or whether they didn’t understand the seriousness of the multiple calls or whether they were simply so far away that they could not get here is not an excuse. Imagine, as I have, that this woman was your wife, daughter, niece or neighbor. Imagine that her injuries were equally invisible from the outside, but perhaps life threatening below the surface. Imagine that the assailant was within a block or two when the first call was made, but on BART and already in Oakland by the time police showed up. Inexcusable.

    This cannot be how our neighborhood works. It can’t be a place where victims or helpful neighbors reach out to help only to find that they are dangling without professional support. Without prompt response times, we can expect crimes to rise, or help to fall. Both of which are not what our neighborhood wants or needs.

  21. The poster in question was prepared during the week of June 3 1973 and the celebration was on June 10. I was chairman of the park committee in 1973. There is a book in the BH library titled BERNAL HILL MEMOIR which has all the information. Jerry Schimmel

  22. I grew up on Bernal Heights (18 Winfield Street, to be precise), and have many fond memories of the street parties and potlucks etc as a child in the 60’s/early 70’s. Live in Boston now, but interested in what it is like now!

    • Well, we all wear Prada and drive Ferraris now. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same. Bernalwood has a terrific Bernal Alumni Network tuning in, so please check in regularly. And if you have any stories about the neighborhood back in the day that you’d like to tell, we LOVE those.

  23. It’s wonderful to see people who love their neighborhood so much that they have invested time in producing an informative, useful, and entertaining blog such as this. However, as a lifelong resident of Bernal Heights (since the mid-1950’s), I truly do not feel that the word “Bernalwood” reflects what Bernal Heights is. It has always been very rural–the country in the city (with lots of wildlife)–and often scruffy, yet whimsical with all the Victorians and winding lanes in the hillsides . . . I can’t think of anything more remote from the image one gets from the word, “Hollywood.” When I see “Bernalwood” I immediately associate it with “Hollywood.” I saw someone paint “BERNALANDIA” on the sidewalk and I think that is closer to the mark in describing Bernal Heights in a word, for historically it was quite a self-sufficient part of the City, kind of a world unto itself in many ways–a world away from all the hustle and bustle of the City. I have to laugh also when I see Precita Avenue referred to as “Precitaville” ! Actually, since I’ve always lived on Precita Avenue, it’s not so far off the mark because growing up and living on Precita Avenue all these years it has always been like living in a small (cow ?) town. But few people know that it is actually a VALLEY–Precita Valley–to be exact. San Francisco has a lot of other “Valley” neighborhoods, too, such as Noe Valley, Cole Valley, Hayes Valley, etc., but somehow Precita Valley remains the unknown valley in the City . . .

  24. As another lifelong resident of Bernal Heights (over 50 yrs), I agree with you completely. However, I read that some people consider “Bernalandia” a joke comparing it to “Portlandia”, a satirical comedy tv show. Bernal Journal is already taken. It’s really hard to pick a good name for a blog about such an ethnically diverse neighborhood. How about Tower of Bernal? (just kidding).

    • Thank you, Gilda, for shedding light on how some people view the word “Bernalandia.” I had no idea . . . “Bernalwood” (Hollywood) ! “Bernalandia” (Portland) ! The perception of our neighborhood has certainly changed. And now we’re a SUBURB of Silicon Valley !

      • Without getting too deep into the origins of the Bernalwood name, suffice to say that it was chosen with tongue planted very firmly in cheek, and precisely because it evokes everyone’s worst nightmares of what Bernal Heights might someday become.

  25. Oh ! What a relief to know ! I thought maybe some folks who lived in the Hollywood hills for a time relocated to San Francisco, ended up somehow in Bernal Heights, and were maybe homesick; hence the choice of the name “Bernalwood.” Truth really is stranger than fiction !

  26. This is sweet. How about some Bernal pictures? I am a 20 year resident on Winfield, and still feel like a “newcomer”.

  27. My parents bought an old Vicorian on upper (dirt road) Montcalm in 1941. It was a wreck. The cost was $800.00. Yes. $800.00. They borrowed the down payment from my uncle and took out a mortgage for the rest. We lived there until the late 40s when they bought another Montcalm home down the street, but on the paved portion of the street. They sold the house to my aunt and uncle and my cousin, Sara, finished her growing up years in that same house. Recently I attended its open house as it was back on the market and totally redone with the front wearing a Victorian style once again. This time the asking price was nearly a million dollars. Yes. times and values do change. Our back yard was the size of a napkin, but we had the hill. No buildings behind us we hiked and played, especially in summer when we took cardboard boxes from which we made a sled-like surface and spent long days gliding down the dry grass. With fondness I will always remember my growing up years on that portion of Bernal Heights.

    • My father and I can both relate to the joys of cardboard sliding down the grassy hills of Bernal. Ah, the thrill of it all….(as William S. Hart used to say). I would think that anyone who bought a house on a dirt road around here in the 30’s and 40’s hit pay dirt, as long as they held onto it long enough. Just today a realtor was telling me that Bernal Heights properties are red hot right now. He asked me if I wanted to sell my old house. Very tempting, but the relatively rare Mediterranean (Etesian) type climate keeps me here. It’s great being close to two hospitals (for my dad) and we’ve got Safeway Delivery (no waiting in boring long lines). The Safeway delivery man cracked me up today when he said, “Beets didn’t make it.” But usually they have most items. Now Amazon Fresh delivers groceries here — their service is also excellent. I tried their 30-day free trial, but I like to use the paper bags from Safeway for recycling.

      • I remember cardboard sliding down bernal heights but I gotta admit there wasn’t anything more fun than kite flying from holly park and climbing my favorite tree in holly park, all the way to the top where someone had placed some boards. when I was up there and the wind was blowing the tree would sway back and forth. I could have killed my self If I had fallen, but what 9 year old thinks about that?

    • We moved here in 1955 on Moultrie St. We paid $11,000 for house. My kids who are now in their 60s went to Paul Revere School. I kinda miss the shops that were on Cortland,like the hardware store, variety store,& the butcher on Cortland & Moultrie.

  28. Is there any redevelopment plan for the housing project on Ellsworth? Potrero is redeveloping their their housing projects, I am wondering what the Bernal Heights neighborhood can do to make improvements?

  29. hey Laura Santiago, my dad, Rush Bowman Spriggs, bought a house on Richland Ave, 384 Richland back in 1959 I believe, I was only four. Anyway, when I was around 7 or 8 my mom would give me the mortgage payment, in cash, and I would take the 9 Richland bus down to 30th and mission (my dad worked for muni and drove the 9 Richland bus also), and pay the mortgage at Lyon Reality. The payment was $27.00. Hello! Those were the days

  30. i was just revisiting the story about the wild parrots of telegraph hill and was wondering what has happened to them and when i googled i found this site with a very recent story about how they have moved here due to political atmosphere somewhere (lol) here or on telegraph hill… quite droll and a big relief cos i love these parrots… and i was born and raised in california …monterey peninsula… and miss it all soooo much : ) thank you for being here for me …veegee

    Why do we need to sell anything to bring back Fiesta to Bernal Heights?
    Why can’t Fiesta pay for itself?
    Why is the Neighborhood Center NEVEr held to be fiscalyl responsible?
    Why do they not ever publish their fincials as required by law?
    Why do the Board Members Never show up at Congress?
    Why does even asking questions regarding the Center’s finances end in marginalizing the person asking?

    • Good questions. We all miss Fiesta on the Hill last year (2016). Fiesta should pay for itself and make money as well. It is the biggest event of the year on Bernal. There should be a public meeting regarding Fiesta and your other questions. People should not be marginalized for asking questions.

  32. So, it’s been more than two months since anything has been posted on Bernalwood. I keep checking for a new post or maybe an explanation of the silence, but there’s been nothing.

    What’s the story, Todd? Everything okay with you and your family? (I hope so!) Overwhelmed at work? Just sick of doing it? Has too much of it fallen on your shoulders?

    Do you need help? (I never see much from the other “editors.” Maybe a few new people need the keys to the Jeep?) Do you need encouragement? (Bernalwood is a neighborhood treasure and a bulwark of the community!) Do you need remuneration? (No ads, no subscriptions, no donations, no swag? That’s a lot of laboring-of-love.)

    Let us know!

    I’m sure I’m not the only one missing Bernalwood, not the only one who relies on it for updates about what’s happening around the hill, and not the only one who feels like questions about gunshots and firecrackers or warnings about scary homeless people are not the core content of an online community. With the demise of the New Bernal Journal and the enfeeblement of the Chronicle, Bernalwood has come to be the best place to get stories and news from the neighborhood and to get a real sense of our neighbors here on the Hill.

    So, Todd, let us know!

    But in the meantime, thanks for all your work, care, and humor. It’s been a pleasure being a regular reader.

      • Echoing Michael. Bernalwood has been eerily silent these past months. Am missing the various updates of the happenings from our gem of a ‘hood.

        Hoping we hear something soon from Todd and team.

  33. Thanks Rick…have heard here & there the Bernalwood “staff” is taking a break…I think everyone on The Hill misses it!!

  34. Is it possible Bernalwood has been silent now for over 3 years??…with no responses, no explanations I suppose it’s RIP for The City’s best blog…too bad…

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