Tonight: Have Fun in La Lengua to Benefit Victims of the Cole Hardware Fire


Lest we forget, many of the neighbors and businesses displaced by last June’s Cole Hardware Fire are still still struggling to rebuild.

Neighbor Eden Stein from the Mission-Bernal Merchants Association invites all Bernalese to stroll our stretch of Mission Street tonight, Friday, Oct 7, as local merchants and eateries raise money for the fire victims. Neighbor Eden says:

Help us meet our goal for the MBMA Fire Relief Fund!

What are you doing Friday night? Secession Art & Design, Coronitas Bar and Grill, and Old Devil Moon are each hosting fundraisers for the Mission Bernal Merchant Fire Relief Fund.

Start the evening off at Secession Art & Design’s party at 3235 Mission from 6-9pm. 3300 Club will be selling t-shirts at this event. Then have a Corona and some delicious buffalo wings at Coronitas at 3326 Mission. Walk just up the street to Old Devil Moon at 3472 Mission to have a Po-boy and some beer, whisky, or rum – your choice.

When you shop, eat, or drink you’ll be making a difference. Each business will donate a percentage from their proceeds.

Our fundraising efforts end on Sunday at midnight, so help us reach our goal of $25,000. Forty locals and fifteen restaurants have brought hope to the merchants of the 3300 block by raising close to $20,000 already.

The merchants on this block still need support from our local community so they can have a chance to open again and do what they love best. Our fundraiser is a small thank-you grant to remind these businesses that we got their back, and let them know that we’re still thinking of them and want them to be able to return.

See you Friday night!


PHOTO: 3300 block of Mission Street after the fire. Photo by Jonathan Koshi via MBMASF

Pedestrian Struck By Car on Crescent Avenue


A pedestrian was struck by a car yesterday on Crescent Avenue in South Bernal. Daniel Montes from SF Bay reports:

Around 8:10 a.m., officers responded to a report of a crash at Crescent Avenue and Andover Street, police said.

There, officers learned the victim, a 62-year-old man, had run into the crosswalk on Andover Street in order to catch a bus, according to police.

At the same time, a 38-year-old man was driving and came to a stop at Andover Street and Crescent Avenue. He then proceeded through the intersection, where he struck the victim, police said.

The victim suffered injuries to his head and pelvis. He was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to police.

Neighbors Establish Recovery Fund for Bernal Family Displaced by Prospect Fire


We’ll start with the good news: Everyone is okay.

But beyond that, the two-alarm fire that damaged the house at 158 Prospect last Friday morning has turned the life of Bernal’s Grant-Weisler family upside down, because their home is no longer habitable and much of their stuff is destroyed. At the time of the fire, the house was occupied by a family of two parents and three kids, their au pair, and two visiting houseguests.

But that brings us to another silver lining: This is Bernal Heights, and neighbors here help one another during times of need. A crowdfunding effort has gotten underway to help the Grant-Weisler family begin to rebuild, and all Bernalese are invited to contribute.

We’ll have more detail on the crowdfunding effort in a moment. But first, here’s a note from Neighbor Sam, the mom of the house at 158 Prospect:

Tonight I am grateful. So grateful. And I feel lucky. So lucky.

That’s not what I would expect to be feeling after standing on the sidewalk and watching my home of the past 15 years, the home where all 3 of my kids were born, the home where JJ Wiesler and I have built our whole adult life together, go up in flames.

But it’s amazing how quickly your priorities come clear when you are forced to choose, in a second, what is most important to you. People, memories, photos, videos, musical instruments, the kitchen table around which so much of my life has unfolded, my dads lap desk and typewriter, cameras, journals…

Everyone is OK. The girls are pretty shaken up, but they’re going to be fine. And the baby is just going with the flow. To him, it’s just another day of new experiences.

The only person who was injured was one of the 66 amazing firefighters from the San Francisco Fire Department who risked their lives today to save our home. I am so moved, overwhelmed with gratitude, by the moments of kindness that we experienced in this insane day from hell. The female firefighters, who are also moms, who took the time to rescue the kids lovies. The other firefighter who returned our emergency cash stash that was about to disappear into the flames. The other firefighters who went back into an active fire to recover all our family photos and videos. The neighbors who boxed up and stored our salvaged belongings without even being asked. The other neighbors who quietly pressed their keys into our hands, offering beds, pillows, towels, food, and even a friends apartment where we are staying right now. I’m so moved.

The “Grant-Wiesler Onward & Upward Fund” was launched by Bernal Neighbors Aaron and Bronwyn Ximm. They write:

Thankfully, and most importantly, everyone is fine.

Their warm and welcoming home however is unlivable, and most of the family’s posessions were lost.

The Grant-Wielsers are bracing for for a very long climb to restore, remake, and rebuild.

As friends and family, many of us immediately wonder how we can help in this time of need.

One certain thing is that during the next few months especially, the family’s cash flow is going to be both complicated and unpredictable.

There will be hundreds of compounding expenses small and large to re-acquire the tools of modern life.

One way we can help is to build the Grant-Wielsers a ‘slush fund’ for those occasions.

There will be many ways to help West, the girls, and Sam and JJ!

But if you can make a donation–and of course, of any size at all!–it will make a real difference, one that will be received with profound gratitude.

About the campaign organizers: we are Aaron, Bronwyn, Ember, and Juniper Ximm. We are a family of close neighbors and friends of the Grant-Wieslers.

Our families shared the same world-class nanny over many years. Only a few days ago our girls traded morse code messages from our front porch to their back one.

We can’t believe it’s going to be a year or more before we can trade more morse code. We love them one and all, and wanted to immediatley get some help organized on their behalf!

If you’re so inclined, please contribute to the fire recover fund here. As of this writing, the fund has raised $5500, with a goal of hitting $12,500.

You know what to do, Bernal neighbors: Let’s hit that goal — and then exceed it.

PHOTO: Fire at 158 Prospect, by Tom Baker

UPDATED: Two-Alarm Fire on Prospect Ave., Firefighter Injured, Eight Residents Displaced



This morning firefighters are extinguishing a two-alarm fire at 158 Prospect Avenue, between Virginia and Esmeralda.

Firefighters report 8 people live in the building, but all escaped safely.

UPDATE, 9:40 am: One firefighter suffered a head injury while battling the blaze. The injury was described as moderate, and the firefighter was taken to the hospital.

Neighbor Valerie is on the scene:

Neighbor Mary shared this photo. She says, “These were taken from my west-facing deck on the hill. I first noticed the smoke about 8:30 and documented the courageous firefighters working on a steeply sloped roof. As of 9:25 the smoke is still very visible.”


Additional coverage:

UPDATE: As of 9:45 am, the fire is reported as contained.

Bernalwood will update this story as additional information becomes available.

PHOTO: Top, via Neighbor Valerie. Below, Prospect fire as seen from Noe Valley, courtesy of Christopher Baker 

Supervisor Campos Announces Support for Permanent Alex Nieto Memorial on Bernal Hill


On Tuesday Supervisor David Campos announced his support for an effort to install a permanent, City-funded memorial to Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill. However, Bernal Heights neighborhood groups say they have not been informed about the proposal.

Alex Nieto was a 28 year-old Bernal neighbor who died in an officer-involved shooting in March 2014. The San Francisco District Attorney’s investigation of the incident determined Nieto had a history of clinical psychosis and behavioral problems, alleging that he pointed a pistol-shaped taser at police officers who approached him after receiving reports of an armed man acting erratically on Bernal Hill. During a subsequent wrongful death suit initated by the Nieto family, a jury ruled that the SFPD officers involved in the incident had not used excessive force.  Friends of Alex Nieto maintain his death was a byproduct of gentrification.

Alex’s parents,  Cortland Avenue residents Elvira and Refugio Nieto, appeared before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to request that the City establish a memorial to Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill. An event announcement posted on Facebook described the effort:

A resolution to establish a permanent memorial in honor of Alex Nieto, unlawfully killed by the San Francisco Police Department.

Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos will be sponsoring this noble resolution.

Press conference at the front steps of San Francisco City Hall at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Board of Supervisors meeting to follow immediately. Bring your friends and family and arrive early for the lowrider caravan of justice and the danzante blessing.


In order to honor Alex Nieto, a permanent memorial will be established at Bernal Hill Park, the place where he was unlawfully killed by the SFPD.

Through no fault of his own, Alex Nieto, a 28 year old full-time student and security guard who had never been arrested in his life, was shot at fifty nine times and killed by SFPD officers. Even though there were many witnesses that claimed Alex had done nothing wrong and was just peacefully eating his burrito, the San Francisco District Attorney did not pursue criminal charges against officers. Then in a sham of a civil trial, the killers were released of liability by a mostly white jury that was comprised of no Latinos or African-Americans.

After Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Campos confirmed his intention to establish a City-sponsored memorial to Alex Nieto:


Bernalwood is unaware of any public meetings that have been or will be held in Bernal Heights to consider the idea of a permanent memorial on Bernal Hill. Bernalwood also reached out to leaders of several Bernal Heights neighborhood groups, and none were familiar with the proposal. One Bernal Heights community organizer said, “No, we weren’t consulted about this, but this is the kind of thing we normally expect to be notified about.”

According to the Justice For Alex’s group’s summary of Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting:

About a dozen supporters supported the Nietos by asking the Supervisors to recognize that harm had been done to the Nieto Family and the Latino community; that altars carried cultural significance to the Latino community; that the request for a permanent and protected altar and memorial was a most basic act of restoration; that Alex’s death was tied to gentrification policies of the City that allow newcomers to arrive in droves to the Mission without understanding the cultural differences and their privileges in the communities of color they come to displace and inhabit.

Justice For Alex says Supervisor Campos committed to support an ordinance that would mandate the installation of a permanent memorial to Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill. The group says the ordinance will be introduced by D11 Supervisor John Avalos at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting, within the next two weeks.

See all of Bernalwood’s previous coverage of Alex Nieto.

PHOTO: Top, ad hoc Alex Nieto memorial on Bernal Hill, September 14, 2016, by Telstar Logistics

Bernal Fire Victims, Now Homeless, Reveal Support System Shortcomings


MissionLocal carried an important story yesterday about two Bernal neighbors who were displaced by the June Cole Hardware fire, who are now homeless.

Kimberley Walley and her husband Henry Texada were living in the Graywood Hotel at the corner of Mission and 29th Street when the building was badly damaged in the fire. Since then, they’ve received several rounds of financial assistance from the City and private donors, but the couple has still had a hard time finding and staying in places to live. They’ve been kicked out of a few SROs for various behavior-related issues, and they’ve declined offers to move into shelters.

Laura Waxmann from MissionLocal writes:

Ben Amyes, the [San Francisco Human Services Agency’s] emergency response coordinator, declined to comment on the couple’s case for confidentiality reasons.

“We were working on finding SROs for all of the tenants, and I have placed everyone that I have had the ability to place,” Aymes said. “There are extenuating circumstances [regarding Walley and Texada] that I’m not able to go into.”

Walley said that she has a criminal background including a charge for assault that landed her in jail for nine months. This happened before moving into the Graywood in March, 2011. She also said she suffers from bipolar disorder and depression, but visits a therapist regularly.

Despite this history she found a room at the Graywood Hotel in 2011 through a re-entry program, NoVa, run by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in partnership with the Sheriff’s Department.

Gerald Miller, the center’s director of community based services, did not work with Walley but said that she was likely a client five years ago. Upon hearing of her plight, Miller said that mental illness and a criminal background are not reasons for keeping clients seeking SRO residencies unhoused.

“[Those] issues don’t stop anyone from getting SRO housing,” said Miller. However, other factors, such as a limited housing stock and a client’s consistent refusal to comply with the terms of the agencies attempting to house them, could be a reasons why they end up on the streets.

The whole article is an essential, gut-wrenching read, because it underscores the sad truth that while we can be pretty good at providing economic support to people in need, we’re generally really bad at managing the mental health issues that are often a root cause of homelessness.

PHOTO: Fire-damaged Graywood Hotel, August 2016 by Telstar Logistics

Fire-Damaged Cole Hardware and Playa Azul Demolished


It wasn’t with a bang, but with a whimper.

Yesterday, the Mission Street buildings that once housed Cole Hardware and Playa Azul — structures that were hollowed-out by the devastating fire last June — were finally demolished.

Neighbor Valerie took the blue-sky photo above later in the day, when work was wrapping up. Yet earlier in the morning, Neighbor William shared these photos taken just as the demolition was getting underway:

colehardwaredemo3It’s a sad (if inevitable) spectacle, and the void that’s left behind is a glaring symbol of the sadness many Bernalese feel at the loss of two esteemed neighborhood institutions.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Valerie. Below, Neighbor William