Wheel Thefts Leave Bernal Cars Stranded on Blocks

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This week, Bernal neighbors are reporting a mini-wave of property crimes involving the theft of wheels from late-model cars. Three such incidents are now confirmed. Neighbor Brian was a victim:

I found my car up on blocks with the wheels stolen on April 16. I wondered if you’ve heard other reports of this. I’ve filed a police report but haven’t spoken with a detective yet. My car was parked on Eugenia @ Elsie.

Yuck. And yes, we are hearing other reports of this. Neighbor Peter says:

There seems to be a rash of car wheel thefts happening in Bernal Heights. I woke to a neighbor in front of my house yesterday with one wheel missing from her car. She seemed really bummed about it. I then saw several postings on Nextdoor from Bernal folks who have had not one but two wheels stolen off their cars in the past few days. I think people should be on the lookout for this crappy new form of crime in Bernal Heights.

The one I saw outside my house yesterday was on the 300 block of Coleridge, between Cortland and Kingston Sts. It makes you wonder what the total number might actually be.

The grey BMW is on the 400 Block of Eugenia, the red Hyundai is on the 300 block of Franconia.

In the case of the grey BMW and the red Hyundai, both wheels from one side of the car were taken; the wheels on the other side were left in place.

UPDATE: That sad red Hyundai belongs to Neighbor Sarah, who tells us how it took a village for her to get back on the road:

I saw my poor red Hyundai on your story about stolen wheels. She’s all fixed now, with new wheels and tires, and LOCKING lug nuts on all wheels. Deciding if I should get new hubcaps for the new tires or not.

And to add insult to injury, my battery died this morning and the car wouldn’t start. AAA to the rescue again!

Thanks to all the Franconia and Samoset St. neighbors who came up to me as I stood next to my disabled car on the phone and offered kind words and support, and for looking through camera footage. To Mission Tires for quickly getting me some new hoops, rotating the tires, and putting the locking lug nuts on the older wheels. My housemate Kelly for letting me borrow her car so I could go to O’Reilly’s for lug nuts, and the O’Reilly’s staff for listening to my sob story. My friend Molly for driving me to and from Mission Tires, and helping me unload them. And AAA for *all* the roadside assistance.

Hoping for better car-ma soon for all Bernalese!

Best,

Sarah on Samoset

PHOTOS: via Neighbor Peter

Undo: Two-Lane San Jose Ave. Freeway Exit Will Be Restored

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Well, the great San Jose Avenue Traffic Calming Experiment has officially been declared an abject failure. The effort to slow traffic along San Jose Avenue by reducing the exit to San Jose Avenue from I-280 northbound from two lanes to one instead succeeded mainly in causing epic traffic backups along I-280 and  more motor vehicle accidents. Oopsie!

In addition, the scheme created additional sadness and delay in South Bernal and St. Mary’s, so now the exit will return to its original two-lane configuration. The Glen Park Association reports:

The 280 freeway offramp to San Jose Avenue will return to a two-lane configuration, owing to a high number of accidents following an experiment to slow traffic by narrowing it.

Seven accidents were recorded on the offramp between June and November, 2015, after engineers reconfigured the two exit lanes to merge into one lane just before the Monterey Street underpass. The offramp reconfiguration was the second phase of the Northbound San Jose Avenue & I-280 Off-Ramp Road Diet Pilot Project, which was intended to slow traffic on San Jose Avenue south of Randall.

In Phase I of that project, San Jose Avenue itself was reduced from three lanes to two. When that measure did not slow traffic, Phase II was implemented, and the offramp was reduced from two lanes to two lanes merging to one.

Since Phase II also failed to reduce speeds and reduce traffic volumes but did increase the number of accidents, Caltrans has decided to return the offramp to its original state. The road is scheduled to be re-paved in May, then re-striped.

If the goal is to reduce speeds along San Jose Avenue, some armchair traffic engineers in Bernal-Glen have a few good ideas about how to accomplish that.

Help a Bernal Artist Find the Art That Was Stolen With Her Car

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You might remember Neighbor Carrie Ann Plank; she played a starring role last April’s post about Bernal Heights artists at the Hunter’s Point Shipyard. Well, Neighbor Carrie Ann’s car was stolen on Saturday night, and some of her art was in it.  Grrrrrrrr.

She tells Bernalwood:

My car was stolen from in front of the house last night over on Bronte. I’m an artist, and unfortunately, several pieces of valuable artwork were inside the car.

Car thieves probably are not interested in art pieces, so I’m hoping they were dumped somewhere nearby. Can we put out a call to my fellow Bernal dwellers in case anyone sees them? I’m desperately hoping my good neighbors have some information that may lead to recovery! Additionally, I’m the artist in residence currently at Bullseye Glass and all of my notes and sketches were in the trunk. Would love to get those back too!

Fingers crossed! Thank you for the assist in getting the word out.

Here are the details:
2007 graphite Prius with a carseat, and here’s a few images of the missing work:

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Mayhem Strikes as Thief Crashes Stolen Car on Mullen

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Grrrrr. Neighbor Peter did some excellent reporting on the scene yesterday after a stolen Honda Accord crashed into a several parked vehicles on Mullen:

A bit of news from Santana Rancho today. I didn’t witness it happen, but heard a loud crash at around 1pm (ish) and ran outside to check it out. Pictures below of what I found on Mullen at Franconia.

A Honda Accord slammed into a Saab then careened into and on top of a Mini Cooper. The 2 witnesses I spoke to said the driver fled the scene on foot north down the Franconia stairs towards Peralta, then headed east on Peralta.

The police were on the scene pretty quickly and seemed to get a somewhat decent description of the suspect from witnesses. They confirmed that the car was stolen. Also, the police were then pointed to a few belongings that the suspect may have dropped on the Franconia stairs while fleeing – a couple of flashlights and a pretty large folding knife.

All in all, pretty startling, since he must’ve been driving pretty fast to cause such an acciden. All are lucky that no bystanders were hurt. Unfortunately, the two cars that got hit were in pretty rough shape though.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Peter

What the Hell Happened on Manchester Street?

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Six cars parked along the steep upper reaches of Manchester Street were damaged last night on Friday in a kinetic accident that caused several cars to pancake together. Ouch.

The incident happened on the steep, dead-end block of Manchester below Bernal Hill, just south of Stoneman. Neighbor Simon broke the story via an email to Bernalwood:

Returning home from a weekend away to find the evidence of some dramatic event on Manchester above Stoneman. Half a dozen cars are smashed up and pushed into each other like dominoes. Runaway car? Angry drunk? Malicious joy-riders? WTF?!?

Incredulous, we dispatched the floodlight-equipped Bernalwood Action News Jeep to the scene on Sunday night to investigate.

The basic facts checked out instantly. Someone or something drove down the wrong side of Manchester. Along the way, he/she/it glanced off a Subaru Forester, damaging the rear quarter and peeling off much of the bumper. They then slammed into an Acura, doing extensive damage to the front end, before hitting a Saturn SUV and triggering a domino effect with three more adjacent cars.

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Very, very unpleasant.

Oddly, the scene was eerily quiet when Bernalwood visited at about 10:30 last night. No neighbors. No police. Just lots of silence, broken cars, and shattered glass. Neighbor Sam was equally baffled:

While attempting to park this evening, I saw all this up at the top of Manchester: Cars hit by something and knocked around like playthings… Strangely there were no neighbors milling about (so maybe happened earlier??), but neither had there been a call to the police (I phoned it in on the non emergency line). A mystery… or Cloverfield 2?

Based on our preliminary observations, Bernalwood is going with the Cloverfield hypothesis. We will update this story as further information becomes available.

UPDATE 8:56 AM Neighbor Arwen writes in with the executive summary and useful reminder:

The Manchester drama actually happened on Friday night 🙂 Someone was apparently looking for parking, didn’t find a spot and started to back down but lost control. Eek! Fortunately the driver was not hurt and no one was in the cars, but as you can see, there was quite a lot of damage… The insurance assessors can’t come until Monday (today) so pretty much everyone left things as is.

While I’m writing you, I’ll make a PSA about curbing wheels. A similar accident happened a few years ago–someone pulled up on the other side of the street (no parking there), forgot to curb his wheels, and went inside a house. The emergency brake gave way and the car careened down the street, totalling 5 or 6 cars! So, always curb your wheels! And be careful backing down…

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

En Route to Washington, Badass Bernal Racecar Generates Panic In Oregon

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As you know, America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon is a proud resident of Bernal Heights.

Driven competitively by the Bernal Dads Racing Team in the 24 Hours of LeMons racing series, “The Whale” is currently en route from Bernal Heights to scenic Shelton, Washington to compete in a weekend race at The Ridge Motorsports Park.

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Yesterday, as Neighbor Stephan dragged The Whale into Oregon for the first time, Bernalwood received unconfirmed reports that Oregon governor Kate Brown had ordered the distribution of mandatory tetanus shot boosters for all residents of the Beaver State:

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Now on its third engine, second transmission, third hood, fourth bumper, third pair of front fenders, second electrical system, and second windshield, The Whale will roll at The Ridge this weekend to bring honor and glory to all the peoples of Bernal Heights.  Maybe.

If you’d like to keep track of the spectacle, follow Bernal Dads Racing on Facebook for photos and updates.

PHOTOS: Bernal Dads Racing

Competing Petitions Disagree on New Lane Reduction in Bernal Cut

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Neighbor Chris from St. Mary’s recently wrote Bernalwood to say:

Wondering what you think about the new San Jose Ave exit on 280. It’s like a pinball machine there now, even on off commute hours. Two exit lanes still exit, but now they merge into 1 within 100 feet, and it’s always backed up way before the underpass so you also have to stop suddenly. I get that the car culture needs to change, but it has to happen subtly. My girlfriend found the person at MTA responsible for the new configuration and let him have it.

It’s true; traffic patterns northbound through the Bernal Cut have changed, and there have been multiple big accidents there as a result. Meanwhile, it seems Neighbor Chris’s concerns are not uncommon, because Streetsblog reports

The redesign of San Jose Avenue took a step forward a month ago when Caltrans removed a traffic lane on a Highway 280 off-ramp leading on to San Jose, a.k.a. the Bernal Cut. The plan is the result of decades of neighborhood advocacy for safer streets, but it is running into opposition from motorists who won’t stand for the road diet.

Supporters and opponents of the project are duking it out with online petitions, both launched a month ago. The opposition’s petition currently has a lead on the supporters’ petition. The SFMTA hasn’t released the results from its survey from last fall.

On the bright side, no matter which side of this issue you agree with, there’s a petition you can sign.

PHOTO: I-280 at San Jose Accident, June 19, 2005, by Neighbor Jeremy Ambers