If Two Homes Are Built on This Bernal Heights Property, Will It Explode in a Giant Scorching Fireball?


There’s a design review committee meeting happening tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 28 at 7 pm at the Precita Center.

The topic on the agenda will be that proposal to build two single-family homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom on the southeast slope of Bernal Hill, on the undeveloped lot just below Bernal Heights Boulevard at Folsom and Chapman. There are questions to consider. Like, how is the new right-of-way going to work, since there’s no road there now, and the slope is so hella steep? And what about drainage, and the garden that’s now on the site, and the existing character of the neighborhood? Also, if homes are built here, will the site explode in a gigantic, scorching, San Bruno-style fireball?

The mortal peril associated with the giant scorching fireball scenario introduces a dramatic new element to the usual Bernal Heights design review fare. The giant scorching fireball scenario has been popularized by some neighbors around the proposed development site, and they have detailed their concerns in a flyer:


Let’s zoom and enhance for better legibility:


Blast radius! Oh my.

But is this true? Is this pipeline the same type that blew up in San Bruno? How likely is it that a giant scorching fireball scenario will ultimately engulf everything inside the red circle?

Remain calm, Citizens of Bernalwood. Let’s walk through this piece by piece.

The gas pipeline that runs through Bernal Heights is called Line 109, and it is definitely serious business. The 2010 San Bruno explosion is fresh in Bay Area memory, but that was Line 132 — a different pipeline altogether. That said, Line 109 also exploded once, in a giant scorching fireball, right here in Bernal Heights, back in 1963.

So there’s that.


Bernalwood reported on the present-day status of Line 109 back in 2011. At the time, we said:

The good news is, our section of Line 109 is relatively new [installed in the early 1980s], and thus hopefully does not have any of the shoddy, 1950s-era welds that were blamed in the San Bruno explosion. Likwise, it seems that an active inspection regimen is in place to validate the line’s integrity.

And so, we concluded:

Given the magnitude of PG&E’s recent mismanagement of its pipeline infrastructure, and the tremendous potential for harm, unwavering diligence will be required by both Bernal Heights residents and our local authorities to ensure the pipeline will remain safe for decades to come.

So, diligence.

That brings us to the present day. Bernalwood has been contacted by a group of neighbors around the proposed development who have been raising alarm about the giant scorching fireball scenario and rallying to oppose construction on the site. We also sent a series of technical questions to PG&E, to get additional information about the status of the pipeline at this location.

We will hear from both sides.

Writing on behalf of the neighbors who oppose the project, Neighbor Maiyah tells Bernalwood:

The site is at Folsom and Chapman, right next to the community garden. There’s a huge gas transmission line right next to the two plots… just like the one in San Bruno. It’s the same line that exploded in 1963 near Alemany and injured 9 firefighters (one also died of a heart attack) and blew up a house. I’m now a part of a small group of concerned Bernal residents who are trying to bring to light the facts of this situation and to inform others of the potential dangers.

I saw the developer (Fabien Lannoye) at the East Slope Design Review Board Meeting in April and he seemed to be not very concerned about the pipeline, not knowing the exact depth of it. He sort of shrugged when he said PG&E had no record of it. Bernal residents had asked him for a comprehensive site plan, the exact location of the pipe, the impact on the nearby community garden, and many more questions and his answer was that he didn’t ever receive the letter in the mail. It made me feel uneasy to say the least.

Just thinking about that huge transmission line with heavy construction equipment digging and moving earth over and around it on one of the steepest grades in San Francisco (35%), makes me cringe.

One of our members recently emailed Robert Bea, Professor Emeritus at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley, who investigated the San Bruno disaster. She asked him if she should be concerned about the pipe line here in Bernal. He replied yes, with the facts that have been gathered so far: (1) the pipeline is old (1980’s) installed in an area with highly variable topography, (2) there are no records on the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline, (3) there are no definitive guidelines to determine if the pipeline is ‘safe’ and ‘reliable’, (4) there is apparent confusion about who is responsible (government, industrial – commercial) for the pipeline safety, reliability, and integrity.

This list is identical to the list of concerns that summarized causation of the San Bruno Line 132 gas pipeline disaster.

I live about a block from the proposed construction site, so I’m not too worried, but those of us who live right next to the pipeline are thinking twice about their safety right now.

That’s the argument against building two homes on the lots at 3516 and 3526 Folsom.

To better understand the technical issues, Bernalwood reached out to PG&E with a detailed series of questions related to Line 109 in Bernal Heights and potential construction hazards at the proposed development site. PG&E was very responsive, and we received answers to our questions late last week.

Bernalwood’s questions, and PG&E’s responses, are provided here in their entirety:

1. When was the section of pipeline under the the proposed home site installed? When was it last upgraded?

The line was installed in 1981. PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safe operation of this line.

2. How often is this section of 109 inspected? What does the inspection entail? When did the last inspection take place? What were the results of that inspection?

This section of L-109 was successfully strength tested (via a hydrostatic pressure test) at the time of installation. PG&E records show no history of leaks for L-109 in this area.

PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system.  PG&E regularly conducts patrols, leak surveys, and cathodic protection (corrosion protection) system inspections for its natural gas pipelines.  Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately.  PG&E also performs integrity assessments of certain gas transmission pipelines in urban and suburban areas.

Patrols:  PG&E patrols its gas transmission pipelines at least quarterly to look for indications of missing pipeline markers, construction activity and other factors that may threaten the pipeline.  L-109 through the [Bernal Heights] neighborhood was last aerially patrolled in May 2014 and no issues were found.

Leak Surveys:  PG&E conducts leak surveys at least annually of its natural gas transmission pipelines.  Leak surveys are generally conducted by a leak surveyor walking above the pipeline with leak detection instruments.  L-109 in San Francisco was last leak surveyed in April 2014 and no leaks were found.

Cathodic Protection System Inspections:  PG&E utilizes an active cathodic protection (CP) system on its gas transmission and steel distribution pipelines to protect them against corrosion.  PG&E inspects its CP systems every two months to ensure they are operating correctly.  The CP systems on L-109 in this area were last inspected in May 2014 and were found to be operating correctly.

Integrity Assessments:  There are three federally-approved methods to complete a transmission pipeline integrity management baseline assessment:  In-Line Inspections (ILI), External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) and Pressure Testing.  An In-Line Inspection involves a tool (commonly known as a “pig”) being inserted into the pipeline to identify any areas of concern such as potential metal loss (corrosion) or geometric abnormalities (dents) in the pipeline.  An ECDA involves an indirect, above-ground electrical survey to detect coating defects and the level of cathodic protection.  Excavations are performed to do a direct examination of the pipe in areas of concern as required by federal regulations.  Pressure testing is a strength test normally conducted using water, which is also referred to as a hydrostatic test.

PG&E performed an ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2009 and no issues were found.  PG&E plans to perform another ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2015.  This section of L-109 also had an ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment) performed in 2012, and no issues were found.

Automated Shut-off Valves: There are two types of automated shut-off valves recognized within the natural gas industry: Remote Controlled Valves (RCV’s), which can be operated remotely from PG&E’s Gas Control Center, and Automatic Shutoff Valves (ASV’s) that will close automatically as a result of rapidly falling pipeline pressures and/or increased flows at the valve location. There is an RCV on L-109 in Daly City that can be used to isolate the section of L-109 that runs through this neighborhood.

3. Is this section of pipeline 109  “the same type that blew up in San Bruno?”

No. Line 109 operates at a much lower pressure and is smaller in diameter, and is of a much more recent vintage.

4. What safety procedures does PG&E put in place when home or street contruction occurs on the site of a major gas pipeline like 109?

Anytime a contractor or resident makes an excavation on franchise or private property, they must call 811 (State Law for Underground Service Alerts [USA]) in advance so we can identify and properly locate our UG facilities.  When our Damage Prevention group gets the USA request and identifies a critical facility like a gas transmission line in the scope of work, they notify the caller that they must contact PG&E for a standby employee.  PG&E must observe a safe excavation around our lines if any digging is within 10’ of it.  We must be present when they dig around this line.  Our standby inspector will instruct and guide the excavating party to avoid damage.  Excavators who violate this Law are subject to fines.

5. Does the steep grade of the Folsom site have any impact on Pipeline 109? Given the grade at the proposed site, are any special provisions or procedures required to ensure the safety of the pipeline during construction?

The grade of the street have no impacts on the operation of the line.  If the cover is not removed or disturbed within 10’ of the line, there are no special precautions needed.

6. Are there any specific technical or safety challenges posed by the proposed home site, and if so, how does PG&E plan to address them?

As long as the structures are built within the property lines similar to the existing [homes on Folsom Street], they will not pose any issues for us patrolling and maintaining that line.  The proposed home sites are not on top of line 109, and are no closer to the line than existing homes in the neighborhood.

Additional Background: In the area outlined in the map [Bernalwood sent PG&E, shown above], PG&E’s natural gas transmission pipeline L-109 runs down Folsom Street and turns east to follow Bernal Heights Blvd.  Line 109 in this area is a 26-inch diameter steel pipeline installed in 1981 and has a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 150 pounds per square inch gage (psig), which is 19.8% of the pipe’s specified minimum yield strength (SMYS).  This provides a considerable margin of safety, since it would take a pressure over 750 psig to cause the steel in the pipe to begin to deform.

Whew. Someone should turn that into a TED talk.

Bernalwood’s conclusion from the above is as follows: The handbill that has been posted around Bernal Heights by concerned neighbors contains several errors. Line 109 in Bernal Heights is not the same type of pipeline as Line 132, which exploded in San Bruno. The inspection history provided by PG&E undermines the assertion that “there are no records on the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline.” Line 109 has been the subject of a recent and ongoing inspection regimen, and if the developer follows the required safety protocols, the hazards associated with construction on the proposed development site should be routine and manageable.

Here too, rigorous diligence will be required to ensure the project is executed and managed properly. If such diligence is applied, the Citizens of Bernalwood may soon enjoy the company of a few new neighbors on the upper reaches of Folsom Street, without having to endure the hardship and mortal peril associated with a giant scorching fireball emanating from the new home site.

Reasonable minds might reasonably view this matter differently. Either way, see you at the design review meeting, 7pm on Wednesday, May 28 at Precita Center.

Neighbor Noah Invites You on a Trip to Stylish North Korea


Neighbor Noah Lang lives in Precitaville, and he runs the wonderful Electric Works fine art press in SoMa. He’s a terrific fellow with superb taste, and I suspect he’d be a great travel companion. That’s important, because Neighbor Noah would like you to join him on a tour of North Korea.

Yes, just imagine the surreal sensation you will feel as you compare notes with Neighbor Noah about your favorite Cortland Avenue boutiques while taking in the art and architecture of exotic Pyongyang!

There’s an informational meeting about the trip happening at Electric Works (1360 Mission St., first floor) on Thursday, January 30  at 6:30 pm. Until then, Neighbor Noah writes:

I took my first trip to North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2008 as a side trip from Beijing while attending the Olympics. It was an amazing, eye-opening trip.

The DPRK is perhaps the least-well understood country of our times.  And while relations between the US and the DPRK are strained, travel there is relatively quite safe.

While traveling in the DPRK, we will be under auspices of Koryo Tours. They are by far the most experienced, most trusted company that offers travel to the DPRK.  Their connections go back over 20 years and they offer access to this secretive country that no one else can or does. During this art and architecture tour, we will gain access to buildings and sites that have previously remained closed to all other Western travelers.

The people behind Koryo Tours are responsible for, among other things, several interesting films on the DPRK.  Several of these films, including “A State of Mind,” “Crossing the Line,” and “The Game of Their Lives” offer a look into this mysterious country. I highly suggest watching what you can before the tour. All are available through Netflix.

But I’m inviting you to travel with me on a once-in-a-lifetime tour to a country like no other.

The sights in the DPRK are unlike those in any part of the world.  Many people who have traveled there have compared it to stepping into a time machine.  Pyongyang is an amazingly clean, modern showcase city: the jewel of the DPRK.  During the tour you’ll find a sparkling city, lined with trees, fountains and parks.  The architecture is what caused me to take a second look while traveling there. These were not your typical Stalinist-era concrete monstrosities. That’s when I first thought of a trip devised to have a focused look at its idiosyncratic design and often surprisingly playful nature.  The public art, while all supporting the vision of the DPRK’s founders, is quite powerful; the mosaics, statues and painting all impressive.

Dates are April 12—19, 2014. Travel is from Beijing to Pyongyang and back. Please visit the itinerary page for a detailed description of the tour.  We need to be in Beijing on the 10, and flights can be scheduled home as early as the the evening of the 19th.

PHOTO: via Noah Lang

Übercool Architecture Magazine Visits Bernal Home with Living Roof



Dwell is a glamorous San Francisco-based magazine about modern domestic architecture, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Dwell influences the design agenda for forward-thinking homeowners and residential architects nationwide.

In its current issue, Dwell celebrates Neighbor Peter and Neighbor Grace’s Bernal Heights home on Ellsworth, which features lovely landscaped gardens in the back yard and… on the roof:

Bernal Hill, one of San Francisco’s sunniest and least-developed spots, is a bare peak rising some 450 feet out 
of an otherwise densely packed neighborhood of charming turn-of-the-20th-century homes and shops. But whereas many manmade gardens are watered to be verdant year-round, Bernal Hill’s winter green and summer brown are a refreshing marker of the seasons. And that 
is exactly what designer Peter Liang desired atop his recently remodeled 2,000-square-foot home on the hill’s southern slope.

Now his 580-square-foot green roof is like a piece 
of the hill; its indigenous vegetation—seeded by birds and wind—is irrigated only by seasonal rain and dew.

Purple thistles, California poppies, clover, and dandelions have all taken root in the roughly ten-inch-deep, 
lightweight humus and grape-husk soil. Liang has even handcrafted naturalistic undulations in the roof’s terrain to serve as shields against night breezes for when he 
and his wife, Grace, slip up through a ceiling hatch to sleep under the stars.

PHOTOS: Ike Ideani for Dwell

New Renderings Reveal the St. Luke’s Hospital of Tomorrow, Today




Now that all the squabbling over the plans has been settled (knock wood), California Pacific Medical Center has released a new set of renderings that show what the new, redesigned, 120-bed St. Luke’s Hospital on Cesar Chavez at Valencia will look like when it’s done.

SF Appeal provides the overview:

A previous development agreement reached between city and hospital officials last year called for a smaller-scale hospital at St. Luke’s and a larger one at the Cathedral Hill site at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, but was shelved by supervisors unhappy with the deal.

One of the aspects of the previous proposed deal that supervisors criticized was an escape clause that could have allowed CPMC to close St. Luke’s if its operating margin stayed negative for two consecutive years.

In addition, residents near the proposed Cathedral Hill site had complained about the prospect of increased traffic congestion from a hospital being built at the intersection of two of the city’s main thoroughfares, he said.

Supervisor Mark Farrell applauded the new agreement in March, which he said “incorporates the needs and concerns of our neighborhoods.”

Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes St. Luke’s, said that hospital is “very personal to me” because he had received care there when he was uninsured as a young adult.

He said the new plan “ensures the long-term viability of St. Luke’s.”

With luck, construction should begin by the end of the year. Find more detail about the project at the RebuildCPMC website.

Cozy Bernal Heights Vacation Rental Gets Good Gas Mileage



Here’s an easy way to get away from it all — without having to get away at all!

Check out this suh-weet Airbnb vacation rental in Bernal Heights. It’s comfortably furnished, with a queen-size bed, plush seating, big windows, and it even comes with a car you can use. Plus, at just $520 a month (or $92 a night), it’s a fine deal. But there’s just one catch… IT’S A VAN!

I have a 1990 Chevy Conversion van with only 45,000 miles. She runs great and has a cozy queen size van bed in the back and three captain’s chairs, including the driver’s. It has a clean record and gets pretty good gas mileage for a van.  You must have a clean driving record and a valid driver’s licence plus you’re own non-owner’s driver insurance.

The listing shows a street address on Precita Avenue, which is very glamorous. Sadly, however, the listing also informs us that this rental property does not include a kitchen, pool, fireplace, wireless Internet, heating, intercom, washer/dryer, hot tub… or free parking.

UPDATE: It looks like the listing has been removed — Airbnbrushed from history!

HAT TIP: Uptown Almanac

New Mission Theater Plan Will Also Bring New Housing to North Bernal Borderlands


Last week, the City’s Planning Commission approved a very exciting proposal to restore and renovate the abandoned New Mission Theater on Mission at 22nd Street. It’s a promising development that will bring some grandeur back to the old theater, which will be operated by the much-loved Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain. Yay!

In addition, the project includes 114 market-rate housing units to be built on the site of today’s Giant Value store. Yet as our journo-friends at MissionLocal pointed out, this will also result in the development of a new affordable-housing complex in the Bernalwood borderlands, on the northwest corner of Cesar Chavez and Shotwell:

The developer will dedicate a piece of land near Shotwell and Cesar Chavez streets to the Mayor’s Office on Housing to construct affordable housing to comply with the city’s affordable housing requirement.

Typically developers are required by law to dedicate 15 percent of their units to inclusionary housing or pay a fee that, once the project is completed, will go toward financing affordable housing elsewhere.

The idea behind the land dedication, which is unprecedented, is that the city can turn that land around and build up to 46 affordable housing units as opposed to settling for fewer units being built on-site.

Grande, who was among the nonprofits’ directors that negotiated the deal with the developer, said this would allow the city to have more say on how the affordable housing units are built.

“It’s better because you get more bang for your buck,” he said. “With off-site affordable housing units this also gives us more community control on how the development will happen. It means partnering with affordable housing developers, who would abide by local hiring, and hire union workers.”

However for Howard Ruy, the owner of Auto Smog & Oil Changers at 1296 Shotwell St., which is on the site of the would-be affordable housing building, was told by his landlord that he would have to leave the shop once the land is transferred to the city.

“It means I’m going to have to close shop,” he said. “Honestly I am just waiting for (the landlord) to call me to say ‘you have to move out.’”


I have yet to see any renderings of the proposed Chavez/Shotwell development, so no word on how it will look. I will be watching closely, however, if only because I live a block from the site. So for now, consider me a YIMBY-inclined, interested party.

PHOTO: The future building site on Cesar Chavez Blvd at Shotwell Street in January 2013. Photo by Telstar Logistics 

Bernal Library Reveals Unadorned Facade During Mural-Free Interlude

If you’re one of those people who spent the last decade or two wondering what the Bernal Height library would look like if it didn’t have a mural painted on its facade, you’re now in luck. The old mural was removed last month and the new mural will go up sometime in the months ahead. Yet for now — and for the first time since the early 1980s — the library is sans mural.

In a way, it’s a little disorienting; kind of like seeing Gene Simmons without his Kiss makeup. But unlike Gene Simmons, our library’s looks seem to get better and better with the passage of time.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Three Bernal Homes Selected for Schwanky Architecture Tour

Here’s some deep evidence of Bernal’s celebrity status. This year, three (3!!) Bernal Heights houses were selected for inclusion in this weekend’s Home Tour organized by the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects. So chic!

Thankfully, our real estate-obsessed friends at CurbedSF prepared an excellent executive summary:

The 10th annual San Francisco: Living Home Tours are this weekend. We thought it best to give you a preview of the featured projects on the tour. The tour aims to shine a little light on a wide variety of architectural styles, neighborhoods and residences – all from the architect’s point of view (most of which will be on hand to answer all your questions). This is a great way to get an inside look into the world of distinctive and new residences in the city. The projects are showcased on either Saturday, the 15th or Sunday, the 16th from 10am to 4pm.

The Folsom Street Residence [3407 Folsom] designed by Gary Gee Architects is a brand spankin’ new home that was built on a vacant, cross-sloping downhill lot in Bernal Heights. From the architect we learn that the design concept was “to create simple layering of living spaces stacked and interlocked to express the mass and topography of the site.” It’s a 3-level home with a 2-car garage. Our favorite property highlight is the roof deck that has views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Downtown, East Bay Hills and the Bay. [EDITOR’S NOTE: This same roof deck/helipad was much beloved by the Invisible Obamas during their recent visit to Bernal Heights.]

Bernal Heights is definitely the neighborhood of choice for this year’s tours. The Bernal Tower [66 Ellsworth] by Blue Truck Studio is a tightly-detailed modern home that re-mastered a decrepit bungalow. The architect says things about the house like “The classic bay windows and siding of neighboring Victorians were re-interpreted as a floor-to-ceiling front window and square-grooved vertical siding” and “The street level facade of nearby stucco houses was re-invented with a rough-sawn cedar siding hand-coopered to curve up under the soffit.” It has a green roof.

This single-family home [175 Ripley] designed by Zack | de Vito Architecture and Construction is a retreat in Bernal Heights for a professional couple. The residence is a spacious 3,200 sq. ft. and has “dramatic views” of downtown via floor-to-ceiling glazing and terraces from the back.

If you want to join the Home Tour, tickets are available. For everyone else, do not be alarmed if you see a lot of architect-types wandering the neighborhood over the weekend. They’re easy to spot; just look for sharply-dressed men and women wearing the telltale Daniel Libeskind glasses.

Lastly, hearty congrats to the Bernal Heights homeowners (and their architects) who are participating in the tour. Thanks to you, all of Bernal can now bask in the glory of being AIA-certified glamorous.

PHOTOS: Folsom, Mark Luthringer Photography; Ellsworth, Eduardo Navarro Photography; Ripley, Bruce Damonte Photography

Bernal Architect Creates Whimsical Steampunk Bathroom

Residential architect Andre Rothblatt lives in Bernal Heights, and he recently finished a very wild project: a Steampunk Bathroom. In an email to us, Andre explains:

The bathroom was part of a whole house remodel of a Craftsmen-style home is located in Ashbury Heights. The clients are 30-something techies; He’s a computer engineer and she reviews patent application. They introduced me to the Steampunk genre. I’ve always enjoyed industrial design influences in architecture, and I was enthusiastic to design the bathroom in that style. We were lucky to find a great contractor (Frederic Grasset, also Bernal Heights resident!) who teamed with us to realize this imaginative design.

PHOTO: via Andre Rothblatt

Controversial Bernal Library Mural Cloaked in New Controversy

Bernal Heights Branch Library

Bernal Heights Library

Just like Lindsay Lohan, the proposal to create a new mural for the Bernal Heights Library has a talent for attracting controversy.

Right now, the library is covered in scaffolding and repainting was supposed to have started this week. Instead, the project is on hold because the estate of Arch Williams, the artist who co-created the 1980s-era mural that will be replaced, wants to preserve the old mural — more or less forever.

Here’s the press release from the Williams estate:

Letter to Library from Bernal Muralist’s Heir Ensures Paint Out Stoppage for 90 Days

San Francisco, July 8, 2012 – The Victor Jara mural on Bernal Heights Branch Library got a surer reprieve from destruction this weekend, when Nancy York, sister of muralist Arch Williams, sent a letter to San Francisco Public Library’s head enclosing proof that she is the executor of his estate.

Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, said the action ensures that “the library will have no excuse whatever to remove the mural any time before expiration of the 90-day notice period, and we certainly hope that the mural’s survival can be permanently assured prior to October 1.”

City Librarian Luis Herrera requested that Ms. York send “documentation of your current role as executor or representative of the artist’s estate on or before July 10, 2012.” It continued, “if you are unable to remove or pay for the removal of the mural before October 1, 2012, the City will proceed with its Bernal Heights Branch Library renovation project as planned, including the removal of Mr. Williams’s mural.”

Ms. York asserted her rights to 90-day notice of removal — and the right to remove the mural or have it removed — under the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA), which she faxed in a letter on June 8, 2012.

Under CAPA, the artist of a work of fine art that is to be destroyed must be notified so that he or she may remove the work, or have it removed. The right passes to the heir or personal representative in case of the artist’s death, and continues for 50 years. Arch Williams died in 1996, so the rights would be valid until 2046, 34 years from the present.
Ms. York’s letter encloses a copy of her brother’s “hand written will in which he names me (Ms. York) as his executor of his estate.”

Ms. York continues, “I must say that it concerns me that you are only now complying with the California Art Preservation Act, Civil Code 987 especially as the Bernal Mural was already altered in 2008-09.” She continued, “It was only through the efforts of Peter Warfield, Executive Director of Library Users Association, that I became aware of the pending June 11 destruction of the mural, resulting in my fax June 8th asserting my rights.”

The Library had planned scaffold erection for June 8th, which went ahead, and paint out of the mural starting June 11th . That work was suspended and continues to be suspended to date.

The existing mural was painted by muralists Arch Williams and Carlos Alcala in 1980-1982, with participation by many adults and children. Approved by the Arts Commission and Library Commission at the time, it covers three sides of the building. The front includes the important Chilean musician Victor Jara playing his guitar, with his name, and words in Spanish and English from one of his songs. Jara was tortured and killed by the Chilean military when they seized power in 1973; the stadium in Chile’s capital where arrestees were brought after the coup is now named after Jara. The front panel also includes singer Holly Near’s name and words in Spanish and English, and the image of an African American singer modeled on Roberta Flack. The mural also honors working women, and Native Americans. The proposed mural omits Jara, Near, working women, a local history, children, the UN symbol and more.

Citizens of Bernalwood, please discuss.

PHOTOS: Bernal Library mural by Arch Williams and Carlos Alcala, by Telstar Logitics, January 2012

Before and After: Backstage During the Curb Appeal Home Makeover on Bocana

Bernalwood is all about the celebrity star-sightings, so you probably remember when we told you about the home on Bocana that was getting a big makeover as part of a reality TV show called Curb Appeal.

The project and the show are done, and Bernalwood is told that the episode about the home on Bocana will air tomorrow, Saturday, June 23 on HGTV-HD at 2:30 pm.

Meanwile, in an exclusive interview, Bernalwood asked the owner of the house, Neighbor John, to tell us what it was like to do a remodel and shoot a TV show all at the same time:

Oh, it definitely got weird. Besides the fact that we were about to give up control of the renovation process (with a little input), my downstairs neighbor and I had to be sure we were available to talk about how everything was going on camera, then watch big chunks of our front yard disappear and come back as a totally (and wonderfully) different house, all while keeping a smile on our faces.

That last part was a little hard when they pulled out some framing on the side of the house and discovered that water damage that had rotted out one of the support beams in front. The time that it took to replace that beam that was very…interesting. I think I spent most of it on tiptoes trying not to trigger an earthquake!

The hosts were great to work with.  John Gidding is incredibly talented at both design and hosting, very professional and willing to listen to us when we had questions or request. And they also knew when to tell us to just relax and trust them – not an easy task when paint colors are going on. I have to mention too that the contractor and his workers were amazing as well, staying late and making sure that it was done in a way that would last far beyond the last camera shot. I hope he can do projects for me in the future.

Add in being recorded throughout all of this, miked up and posed all sorts of ways for angle and lighting, second and third takes because the 24 bus wheezed and blatted it’s way across the street, and it’s a complete whirlwind. We would come home every night and everything had changed all over again. We spent a lot of time just staring at the house every night, going from “Wow, do you think this will look good?” to “Wow, I hope the house doesn’t fall over!” and finally to just “Wow, that’s my house.”.

We are definitely spending a lot more time in the front yard now, and a LOT more time watering plants. There are still times it’s hard to believe this is our house. With all the chaos and the trepidation, the excitement and fantastic experience of it all is something I would do again in a heartbeat!

PHOTO: After shot, courtesy of Neighbor Sarah

Star Sighting: “Curb Appeal” Filming on Bocana

Neighbor Jon contacted us via the Twitter yesterday with this hot news flash:

O-M-G! HGTV’s “Curb Appeal!”  Fliming on Bocana! So where are the photographs of glamourous celebrity hosts and tasty Craft Services food trucks? We asked Neighbor Jon to zap his paparazzi photos to us. He sent us this bizarre reply:

“I was phone-less!”

The Bernalwood Newsroom was stunned. Whuuuuuuut? Phoneless? In the twenty-first century? How sad. How befuddling.

Instead, Neighbor Jon sent us a “before” photo of the house that’s getting the Curb Appeal makeover. So watch that space, to see how the makeover goes down.

PHOTO: Neighbor Jon

Meet the Bernal Architectural Coloring Contest Contestants

The deadline has passed for submitting entries to the Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Contest, and as promised, architect Mason Kirby has posted the submissions in the window of his office at 301 Bocana.

Now the contest judges will don their somber robes to begin evaluating the submissions. Their task will not be easy, because as you can see here, there’s been some Very. Serious. Coloring. going on…

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics