Thursday: Come All Ye Bernal for the 2017 Holiday Stroll

Holiday Stroll


Tens of thousands of years ago, in the time of our Bernal ancestors, a joyous community of elves lived on Bernal Hill. Each year, during the early days of the winter season, these proto-Bernalese would gather on the land we now call Cortlandia to celebrate the arrival of the season of lights.

Today, the Bernal Business Alliance carries on this ancient ritual, in the form of the glamorous Cortland Holiday Stroll. The 2017 Holiday Stroll happens this Thursday, Dec. 7, from 6 to 9 pm, and Bernalese of all ages are invited to partake of the festivities.

Neighbor Laurie from BBA tells Bernalwood:

Come one, come all, to the 8th annual Bernal Heights Holiday Stroll, this Thursday, December 7th from 6:00 – 9:00 along Cortland Avenue!

Stores will be open to help you with your local holiday shopping, and they’ll be offering treats and libations along the way. There will also be live music and caroling to add to the festivities.

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center at 513 Cortland, will be taking photos with Santa and strollers of all ages, for a recommended donation of $5.00. They are also collecting new, unwrapped toys for their annual toy drive until December 15th, so buy a little extra to give back this season.

Happy holidays, and see you there!

Check out the BBA website for more detail on participating merchants and their extra-special Stroll festivities.

24 Muni Bus Collides With Truck on Cortland

A 24 Muni bus headed west on Cortland Avenue collided with a truck yesterday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

Neighbor Judy was on the scene to share this dispatch:

Your Bernalwood Prentiss Street correspondant is reporting big excitement on Cortland between Nevada/Prentiss/Banks St.

SF Muni #24 had a run-in with a small hauling truck on Cortland.

Ambulance/Fire arrived on the scene between 4:30/4:45. No one injured.

SFPD, SFMuni, and DPT were also on-site.

It was hard to get details, as police really didn’t want to be interrupted by my reporter questions. But neighbors indicated that the bus ran into the hauling truck. The front, right-hand side of the bus had significant damage. No injuries.

SF Muni teams were on location to turn around Muni buses headed up the hill from Bayshore. Cortland was impassable while the incident was being cleared.

PHOTOS: Top, courtesy of Neighbor Judy. Below, courtesy of @Mop_Head.

Cash Drawers Stolen During Early Morning Break-In at Healthy Spirits

Security camera footage shows the intruder entering Healthy Spirits at 5:30 am.

It’s tough to be a merchant in San Francisco — as Heathy Spirits discovered yet again today.

In the early morning hours today, thieves broke in to the Healty Spirits store at 249 Cortland to steal the cash register.

This is the second time this has happened to Healthy Spirits; a similar incident took place in July 2016.

Rami from Healthy Spirits tells Bernalwood:

This morning approximately at 5:30 I received a call from police notifying me of a break in at my business located at 249 Cortland Ave.

The video footage shows that one of the thieves opened the front door using a crowbar and the second thief enters and proceeds to yank the cash register and runs away with two cash drawers. The cash drawers had a small amount of money but the robbery leaves me with a broken front door and a very expensive POS system to replace.
This same scenario almost exactly happened back in July 2016 where the thieves were only interested in the cash register as well.

It is days like today that I choose to count my blessings and I spend my time thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of this wonderful Bernal family. I shall restore whatever was damaged as soon as possible and I can’t wait to be back serving our clients and our Bernalese family at large.

Here are additional security-camera photos of the intruder inside Healthy Spirits this morning:

Anyone with further information about this incident is encouraged to contact SFPD Ingleside Station at (415) 404-4000.

Cortland Merchants Will Have Halloween Treats For Your Little Monsters

For many tens of thousands of years, the shopkeepers of Cortland Avenue have put out candy baskets for children during the evening hours on October 31st, so that families in Bernal Heights can partake of Halloween in locavore safety and style.

That tradition continues again this year, and Neighbor Darcy from Heartfelt brings the details — along with some ancient wisdom:

Our Halloween celebration for the wee ones on Cortland Avenue will start at 4-5 pm onHalloween night, Oct. 31 and wind down when the candy is gone.

Here are some Halloween suggestions:

  • Stay in a group and communicate your route to each other.
  • Have a spot in the neighborhood to meet if you get separated
  • Carry a cellphone if possible
  • Use the sidewalk and cross at cross walks…no diagonal street crossings please.<
  • Never assume you have the right of way. One car might stop, but the next might not.
  • Have a great time in a great neighborhood!

PHOTO: Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter with her best friend Eddie, learning about Halloween on Cortland in 2009. (Now much bigger, she’ll be on Cortland this year once again.) Photo by Telstar Logistics

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Fiesta on the Hill Returns to Cortland Avenue!



After a long hiatus, Fiesta on the Hill returns to Cortlandia thus Sunday, Oct. 22. Yaaaay!

An ancient Bernal Heights tradition that dates back to the era of the chert sprites, Fiesta is the once-a-year occasion when Cortland Avenue shuts down to traffic so modern-day Bernalese can promenade with impunity. It’s a locavore bounty of tasty food, artisanal offerings, bumpin’ beats, and games and attractions to absorb the surplus energies of feral children. And it’s all presented by the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and the Bernal Business Alliance.

Here’s everything you need to know, courtesy of BHNC and BBA:

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center is happy to welcome everyone back to Fiesta on the Hill, 2017, Sunday, October 22, from 10:00 – 4:00!

Thanks to all our sponsors, including Sutter Health CPMC2020 and a host of others, our beloved annual event can continue as a fundraiser to support the essential programs the BHNC provides to our community, including senior lunches, affordable housing, and a great space for youth activities.

Join us for music from favorite local bands including the SF Jazz High School All-Stars Quintet, the San Francisco Community Music Center Senior Choir, the Bayonics Reggae Band, Fito Reinoso and his Cuban Songs, and the Adelante Salsa Band at the west end of Cortland.

Also returning is the neighborhood favorite children’s area, with rides and face painting and endless festival fun on the east Cortland side.

Along the middle Cortland corridor we are pleased to again feature a variety of artisan booths, Bay Area businesses and some of the best food vendors and trucks in the city. Get your pictures taken with family and friends at the photo booth in front of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center. And stop by their Community Engagement table, where you can get information about safety, upcoming community events and activities that the BHNC puts together.

The theme for this year’s festival is the Summer of Love, and as October is our sunshine season, be sure to come dressed in your best vintage 1960’s attire. Prizes will be awarded on stage for some of the favorite costumes spotted in the crowd.

Our Cortland merchants will be featuring specials at their stores and restaurants, so be sure to stop by and check out their offerings. The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center will be selling commemorative Fiesta T-shirts for $20 for adults and $15 for kids that you can tie-dye next door outside 12 Small Things. Be sure to get yours before they run out.

Many of our local merchants have donated great raffle prizes that can be yours with a $5.00 donation to the BHNC, so be sure to get your tickets the week before at the BHNC at 515 Cortland or on the morning of the Fiesta. Raffle tickets will be drawn and announced on stage throughout the day, so come early for the best chance to win and enjoy the celebration!

With thanks to all our generous sponsors, volunteers, neighbors, and attendees, we couldn’t do this without your support.

PHOTOS: Scenes from Fiestas past, by Telstar Logistics

After 90 Years, Bank of America Will Close Cortland Branch

Cortland Avenue Bank of America, 1973. (Photo: San Francisco State University)

This story was written by Nathan Falstreau from Hoodline, in partnership with Bernalwood:

Customers of the Bank of America branch at 433 Cortland Ave. in Bernal Heights received a letter late last month stating that the branch will close in November. The notification comes a year and a half after the bank announced it would no longer staff human tellers.

The letter sent to Bank of America customers in Bernal Heights.

The closure is part of a recent trend as more customers look to their phones to do business—Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan moved to close many of its retail locations in an effort to lower costs by bringing more customers onto its online and mobile banking platforms.

The decision by the native San Francisco business—now based in Charlotte, NC—was the result of internal data indicating a shift in how customers interacted with their local branches.

Crowd outside the Bank of America on Cortland Avenue after a robbery in 1936. | Photo:: San Francisco Public Library)

Community banking is essential for small businesses, as well as for more marginalized members of the community like seniors or those whose primary spoken language isn’t English.

“This has a big impact on us as merchants, and that further extends to our customers that use the bank,” nearby Heartfelt owner (and Bernal neighbor) Darcy Lee told Bernalwood in 2015. “There are many senior citizens that use this as a resource in Bernal.”

While many consumers are content with mobile and online banking, it’s not so simple for shopkeepers. “All of us as merchants need money—actual coins and bills—sometimes multiple times in one day,” said Neighbor Darcy. “We also make large cash deposits.”

Bank of America at 433 Cortland Ave. as it looks today (Photo: Google)

Bank of America’s Cortland Avenue location opened in 1927 as the neighborhood was still rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake; the bank still owns the building.

The branch was also historically the only banking center on Cortland Avenue—even to this day—making the closure even more problematic for neighborhood residents. The nearest banking service is a Wells Fargo ATM at 601 Cortland Ave.

“I don’t usually get choked up about banks,” Neighbor Julie told Bernalwood. “But this one does feel like a piece of the neighborhood.”

The last day for banking at the Cortland Avenue branch is November 28th.

Thursday: Come to Cortland for the Seventh Annual Summer Solstice Stroll

It’s the longest day of the year, which of course can only mean it’s also time for the fabulous Summer Solstice Stroll, sponsored by the local merchants from the Bernal Business Alliance. It’s happening along Cortland Avenue  on Thursday evening, June 22 from 6-9 pm, and all the Proud Citizens of Bernalwood are invited.

Added bonus: This year our Cortlandia merchants are also raising funds to bring back the lapsed tradition of Fiesta on the Hill.

The Bernal Business Alliance shares the details:

Join us for the 7th annual Summer Solstice Stroll, this Thursday, June 22nd, from 6 to 9 pm, and enjoy a taste of Bernal!

Sample free beverages and treats along the Cortland Corridor as you stroll with your purchase of a commemorative glass mug and special Bernal Heights lapel pin, designed by local artist, Reuben Rude:

The mug and pin are $20, and all proceeds go to the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center to help bring back Fiesta on the Hill in October 2017!

Mugs can be purchased before or during the stroll at the following locations:

  • The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
  • Bare Bottle Brewery
  • Good Life Grocery
  • The Epicurean Trader
  • Healthy Spirits

With each mug you’ll also receive a punch ticket with all the Bernal Business participants for you to visit. Check out the BBA website for a full listing.

So start your summer of love right and raise a glass to our wonderful Bernal Heights neighborhood! Find laughter, love and discoveries along the corridor that is Cortland.

With thanks from your local Bernal Business Alliance

PHOTO: 2017 Summer Solstice Stroll poster on display at Pinhole Coffee, by Telstar Logistics