Deadline Extended for Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Contest

This just in….

To give everyone a little more time to settle in after the Thanksgiving holiday, architect Mason Kirby has decided to extend the submission deadline for the Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Contest. Mason says:

Extension time! The new deadline is Wednesday, November 30 at 12 noon.

That means you and your Junior Corbusiers have 2 more days to rock the color and win the chert!! Click here to download the free Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book and read the complete submission guidelines.

IMAGE: Contest entry by Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter

The Secret Murals at 254 Precita

The duplex at 254 Precita Avenue is for sale. Here’s how the realtors describe it:

Two VACANT units and ready for new buyers to move in! Great North Slope Bernal location close to Precita Park, Mission District, and easy freeway access. Rental income or TIC potential. MAIN HOUSE is a charming two story 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath bungalow with many PERIOD DETAILS. Freshly painted and renovated with softwood floors and many upgrades. LEGAL APARTMENT is a one plus bedroom unit with separate entrance, many upgrades, high ceilings, freshly painted and VACANT! Fabulous South facing rear yard with patio and beautiful garden area.

One feature goes unmentioned in the official listing, however (though I know the realtor is actually quite excited about it, because he invited me over to take a look). Painted on the retaining wall for that fabulous yard/patio/garden area, there are two murals which are included as part of the sale.

Here’s the one on the right, with an Ansel Adams theme:

Secret Mural

The one on the left looks especially good from the kitchen windows of the lower unit:

Secret Mural

Apparently, the murals are included at no extra cost. Bonus! Purchase the property at 254 Precita for $849,000, and get two quirky murals ABSOLUTELY FREE!

PHOTOS: Top, MLS. Mural details, Telstar Logistics

SF Giants Street Art Spreads Across Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights Home Decor Trend: Is stencil street art the new white picket fence?

Our post about the homeowner on the west slope who invited street artist Get Up to do an SF Giants-themed installation on the side of his house attracted a lot of attention — both in the media and (apparently) among other Bernal homeowners.

One byproduct is that Neighbor Mason, owner of the Chalkboard House on Mullen, also reached out to Get Up to get a piece of the street art action , so there’s now a brand new stencil on those famous garage doors as well. Mason quips:

The true pain of the fall season is that Brian Wilson should be spending his time warming up, not tagging.

UPDATE: Neighbor Becky sends along a photo of ANOTHER installation in Bernal Heights. Three makes it official: Brian Wilson street art by Get Up! is definitely a home-decor trend.

Becky says:

This went up last night on the northwest slope of the hill — Coleridge St. at Powers Ave. This one was Bernalwood inspired for sure.

And to make it even more interesting, the Bernal neighbor across the street is actually a Brian Wilson lookalike!

Wish we had a photo of the two of them together. Oh well.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Mason, Neighbor Becky

Meet the World’s Best Neighbor, Next Door to 3407 Folsom

Last week’s post about that new, modern house at 3407 Folsom generated a lot of spicy commentary and armchair architectural criticism. Some folks love the design of the new house, and others just don’t really dig this whole “modernism” thing. Among the latter group, there was plenty of concern about the overall look of the neighborhood, while some expressed pity for the residents of 3401 Folsom — the traditional-style house that’s right next door.

Happily, however, the residents of 3401 don’t need any pity, because they’re quite pleased with the new house next door, and they’re looking forward to welcoming their new neighbors. We know this because Mark, who lives in 3401, added his voice to the comment thread, where he wrote:

We are the neighbors next door, and naturally have followed the discussions and on-again/off-again planning around this site for many years. Around four years ago the previous owners presented construction plans to the East Bernal Design Review Board, a voluntary neighborhood group that I was a member of at the time. This was for a two-unit building that neighbors found pretty objectionable. Planning stalled for awhile, and new plans for a single family home were presented at a public meeting of the Board some two years later. Feedback was provided and incorporated into the current design.

We and a number of others in the neighborhood would have loved for the site to be made part of Bernal Hill Park, and made initial headway with a non-profit interested in helping the Rec and Parks Dept acquire it. For complicated reasons having to do with the fact that the Dept of Public Works and not Rec and Parks owns the public land to the left of the sidewalk going up the hill, this was not to be. The site was sold to a small construction company who built the house and sold it to our new neighbors.

There are a few things worth mentioning about this whole process. The original owners and developers of the land went out of their way to take into account our perspectives and those of others in the neighborhood. Larry and the crew who bought the project from them and actually built the house over the last eight months worked hard to get the construction over with quickly and with minimal disruption. It’s never easy having a building like this go up over your back fence, but really, everything went much more smoothly than we could have expected, and Larry and his crew (who agreed to make use of our house’s water and electricity so a loud and obnoxious generator wouldn’t be needed) were accommodating and friendly thoughout.

As for our new neighbors Scott and his family? They want to be part of the chicken raising project we’ve had going for two years now with the other neighbors adjoining our properties. They want to do us all one better (and thrill our kids) with the idea of bringing goats into the mix. They have a young child who is age-perfect for my 14 year old daughter-with-baby-sitting-certificate to take care of while all readers of this excellent blog join them on their heli-deck for cocktails every Friday evening (I think that’s what Scott wrote). And we now have yet another enthusiastic Bernal family joining this great community of ours, in the best neighborhood in San Francisco

Welcome Scott!

I love that in so many ways, but not least because it is a pitch-perfect expression of neighborly warmth, patient adaptability, and YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) open-mindedness. Bravo to Mark for the sentiment, and thanks for weighing in.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

There Is a Glamorous New Mini-Park on Bernal Hill

Vista Pointe

Contrary to the way it may appear, that spiffy area of freshly landscaped land on the northeast corner of Bernal Hill (on Bernal Heights Boulevard between Carver and Bradford) is NOT part of the new house that sits right behind it.


Rather, it’s a new public park on public land created by a group of volunteers called Friends of Bernal Gardens. The project is called Vista Pointe Gardens, and after months of unpaid hard work, the build-out is complete.

Readers who are not native to Bernalwood might be forgiven for saying, “Yeah. Cute. Nice lanscaping. Whatever.”

That would be a mistake, however, because the locals all know the tip: Our new Vista Pointe offers a multi-billion dollar view of downtown San Francisco, in a comfy parquito that will provide a nice alternative to the unmanicured wilds of Bernal Hill. Put another way, this is a superb new location for simple picnics, sunset Happy Hours, or hipster weddings.


So Vista Pointe is pretty fabulous. Savor it, enjoy the view, protect it, and THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this happen.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Hat Tip: @MrCleanSF

Does David Campos Do Graffiti?

Reader Nate sent us this photo he took recently on Precita Avenue near Mission Street, adding:

All this time I had no idea that David Campos was a tagger!

Either that, or perhaps he has established a new North Bernal field office? Either way, Bernalwood applauds Supervisor Campos for taking such an intimate interest in this portion of our community.

Coming Soon(er): Construction Begins at Precita Park Cafe

Precita Park Plywood Cafe

As Bernalwood reported earlier, it looks like the renovation of the storefront that will soon become the Precita Park Cafe has finally started at the corner of Precita and Alabama. The plywood is up, construction has started, and we assume all sorts of magic is happening inside.

On a related note, I ran into the always-affable Charlie from Charlie’s Cafe (on the Folsom side of Precita Park) last night while I was taking the photo above. We got to talking about how the Precita Park Cafe might fare, and if it will make Precita Park itself a more sexy and glamorous destination. Time will tell, of course, but I certainly hope that a rising tide will lift all boats.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Then and Now: Bernalwood’s Wild Wild West, 1975 vs. 2011

Bernal Hill, San Francisco

From the ever-fabulous photo archives of Dave Glass (whom we last met right here), comes this typically fabulous photo of Bernalwood’s west slope, taken during the mid-1970s. Dave’s caption explains:

Foreground is Mission Street near Fair, Bernal Heights district,
One of San Francisco’s working class neighborhoods, Pentax H3v with Kodak TriX film, photograph taken 1975

So how does this working class neighborhood look today?

I went back to recapture Dave’s photo, but it seems he took his shot from an upper-story elevation on the western side of Mission Street. I couldn’t recreate that altitude, so this is what I got. (If you need a consistent point of reference, use on the barn-shaped house roughly in the middle of both images.)

Bernal NorthwestExecutive summary of the last 36 years? There’s been a whole lot of remodeling going on!

PHOTOS: Top, Dave Glass; bottom, Telstar Logistics

Two Bernal Luxury Apartments Repackaged as One $3.5 Million Mini-MegaMansion

California Home and Design takes a look at a new home that was recently completed in Bernalwood at 3119 Harrison Street, between Precita Park and Cesar Chavez:

The Basics: A two-unit building, offering a total of six bedrooms, more or less, six baths, plus a lot of parking, for $3.49M, sort of in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, barely, and almost in the Mission.

Not So Basic: New construction in a very current design, it’s now offered as a single property with “Luxury Compound can be modified by builders to meet your every need!” prominent in the listing text. It had originally appeared on the market in 2009 as two units for $2.37M each, then as two units at $1.695M and $1.895M respectively (one is a tad larger) and now again as one for a total of $1.25M less. Their rationale is probably that more expensive properties have sold well in San Francisco, and so the developers are offering to rework it as one luxury property for someone who’s rich, young and relatively fearless.

Lots more pictures here.

Boston Artist Paints Pictures of Bernal Heights Homes

Artist Leah Giberson lives in Boston.  She’s only visited Bernal Heights once, but she developed an instant affinity for our neighborhood — an affinity that she’s now translated into a pair of paintings about local homes.

In a note to Bernalwood, Leah writes:

I have lived the majority of my life in New England and until last summer, had only been to San Francisco once (as a teenager), but have always felt drawn to the light and color of California in general and San Francisco more specifically. When I went out this past July for my show at Rare Device, it was a pitifully short trip but I made the most of every second. I oohed and ahhed my way through the two days and three nights, feeling like I had stepped into a Diebenkorn painting – or in some cases like I had stepped into one of my own paintings!

On my second and last full day, I hiked up and down hills all day from 9 to 5 and lucked into a sunny break in the clouds just as I arrived at Bernal Heights. I fell in love immediately with the neighborhood, the architecture, the restaurants and the crazy dramatic views.

As an artist I am most intrigued by scenes that seem ordinary at first glance, but hide more complicated stories that I imagine must exist for all of us. In my paintings I try to unearth these other truths by turning down the volume on anything that feels distracting so I can pay attention to the second stories that whisper in reflections, open windows, awkward architectural angles and looming shadows.

The homes in Bernal Heights didn’t exactly look “ordinary” to my East Coast eyes, but what struck me was their relationship to the ground below. For many of us outside of San Francisco, the ground is something that we usually think of as a steady (often pretty flat) supportive surface beneath us. On these steep slopes with fault lines lurking nearby, the modestly sized homes of Bernal Heights appeared (to me) to be holding on tight to the edge of the world, grabbing on to power lines above and looking straight ahead so as not to lose their footing – determined to carry on as if this was a perfectly ordinary place for a home.

Fabulous! I say we make Leah an honorary Bernalwood resident in abstentia.

Meanwhile, if you want to own some of her limited-edition Bernal Heights artwork, it’s available at a very fair price via Etsy.

Is There a Way to Make the New Lowe’s Less Ugly?

I’ll start with a confession: I am not, and have never been a hater when it comes to the new Lowe’s on Bayshore Boulevard. The old Goodman’s was an eyesore, I always disliked driving to the ‘burbs just to buy a few things from a big-box hardware store, I still visit Cole Hardware whenever possible, and Bayshore itself is an ideal location to accommodate this kind of commercial roadside architecture. So bring it, I said back in the planning days.

And for the most part, I still think Lowe’s is a good use for that patch of land. Yet it must also be noted that the portion of the store that faces Bernalwood’s gateway intersection at Cortland is a complete disaster — a blank wall of stucco soullessness doesn’t even attempt to engage the flow of the surrounding streetscape. Total. Design. Fail.

Sure, it photographs well if you want to capture an image that typifies the bland impersonality and brutal aloofness of American big-box architecture. (See Exhibit A, above) But otherwise, it’s pretty heinous — even if the store itself is a net positive.

Yet now that the building is up and what’s done is done, is there any way the Cortland-facing portion of the Lowe’s structure can be redeemed and de-uglified in a neighborly sort of way?

UPDATE: 11 March, 2011

Reader Waldo has come up with an excellent proposal for the wall in question:

Photo: top, Telstar Logistics