How Neighbor Lisa Got a Stop Sign and Crosswalk Installed Near Holly Park


Through persistence and some savvy nagging, Neighbor Lisa recently arranged to have a stop sign and proper crosswalk installed on the east side of Holly Park near Highland. Now, Neighbor Lisa tells Bernalwood how she did it:

Recently saw your post / community update about some new neighborhood street lighting, and all that went into making that happen. Crazy, but success. Yay! Inspired me to reach out to you all to tell you about our exciting new-ish crosswalk to Holly Park, pedestrian signage, and new stop sign on Highland.

It was installed during late spring to connect Highland Avenue and Holly Park Circle walkers headed to the east side of the park (main entrance with ramps, playground, dogs galore). Before this crosswalk, there was only one on the entire circumference of the park, connecting to the elementary school on the west. I was always worried about my toddler son and his preschool crossing that crazy circle everyday with cars whipping around the curves, so I made a 311 request.

This is an exciting community safety improvement that hundreds use every day, but more importantly, it’s a way to show other neighbors that this crosswalk (and the stop sign) came about simply because I completed an online 311 application and then made a few follow-up phone calls to SFMTA. I have also called 311 for more urgent requests, like a huge pothole on Appleton at Mission where I almost flew over my bike handlebars, and a massive trash dumping on the sidewalks behind the Safeway.

PHOTO: New crosswalk at Highland, courtesy of Neighbor Lisa

Tuesday: Community Meeting About Prospect Community Garden Water Pipeline Plan


Planned repair work to a pipeline that carries water from the College Hill Reservoir near Holly Park will bring change to the Good Prospect Community Garden that runs between Santa Maria St. and Cortland Ave.

Roberto A Lopez from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission invites Bernal residents to learn more about the project on Tuesday evening:

Notice that has been mailed out to residents who live near the Good Prospect Community Garden on Cortland Ave. regarding a community meeting being held at the Bernal Heights Branch Library (Bernal Heights Room) on Tuesday, September 20 at 6:00 p.m.

This is the 2nd meeting to discuss a project that will impact the Good Prospect Community Garden.  We (SFPUC) have met already a couple of times with the members of the community garden as well as residents that live nearby.

The project will replace two existing pipelines that supply water to SF General Hospital and City Hall.  The existing pipelines run from the College Hill Reservoir and underneath the community garden.  The project is tentatively scheduled to begin construction in late 2017/early 2018.


PHOTO: Good Prospect Community Garden, as seen from Cortland via Google Maps

Neighbors Rejoice as Safety Streetlight (Finally) Installed at Coleridge Mini-Park

It took a lot of emails, a ton of phone calls, a bunch of meetings, and a lot of nagging, but a group of very persistent Bernal Heights Neighbors  finally managed to get a streetlight installed next to the lovely Coleridge Mini-Park. Their hope has been that a streetlight would help deter the nighttime carousing and petty crime that’s been a persistent problem for the park’s neighbors — and so far that seems to be working out as planned.

Neighbor Valerie writes:

A quick update on the status of the Coleridge Mini Park.

We had tried for years to get improved lighting in the park to help deter the drug dealers/users, parties and occasional overnight guests that hung out there. We, and our neighbors, were literally calling the cops to come out and check on things at least several times per week.

However, last spring, our efforts finally paid off. With a lot of assistance from Josh Arce [D9 Supervisor candidate] and Carolyn Goossen [Supervisor David Campos’s legislative aide], the right people at the City were finally corralled and a new light was installed in June.

Since that time, I don’t think there have been any issues that have required police intervention — we’d actually be curious to know if it’s possible to run a report on the number of time the SFPD had to come out to check on things in the park over the same time period over the past two years. I’d be shocked if it hasn’t dropped dramatically.

As you can see, the park is now well-lit and the Parks Dept comes out at least once a week to maintain it (Seriously – a huge shoutout to Rec and Park – they really do a great job keeping it clean!)

The new light really has made a big difference our the quality of life here on Coleridge St.

Nice work, persistent neighbors!

PHOTO: Neighbor Valerie

Exploring Pre-War Precita Park by Streetcar


Once upon a time, in the Age of the Iron Dinosaurs, giant streetcars roamed around Precita Park in Bernal Heights.  Precita Park was the terminus for the Market Street Railway’s 36 Folsom Line, which carried passengers to and from the Ferry Building via Folsom Street between 1915 and 1945. In the magnificent aerial photos of Bernal Heights captured in 1938, the streetcar lines around Precita Park were clearly visible:

The 36 Folsom entered Bernal from Folsom on the west end of Precita Park. It then followed Precita Ave along the southern edge of the park before making a quick jog onto Alabama. The line then turned back onto Precita Ave., continuing east down the street to the intersection with Army (today’s Cesar Chavez). There was no turnaround, so for the return trip to the Ferry Building, the streetcar just reversed itself.

Today’s history geeks owe a great debt to the streetcar geeks of yesteryear, because their obsession with streetcar photography and documentation today provides us with a trove of vivid images that makes it possible to see what this part of North Bernal looked like during the early decades of the 1900s.

Take this shot for example. This is Precita at Army as it looked during the 1920s, with the intersection with York Street visible to the left. This spot is very familiar to most contemporary Bernalese, so it’s fun to check out all the detail this image has to offer:


The most obvious thing to notice is that the divey little gas station that now sits on the triangular lot between Precita, Cesar Chavez, and Bryant used to be a rather divey little saloon:


Amazing! Wieland Beer was a San Francisco brew, manufactured at a brewery that used to be on 2nd Street between Howard and Folsom.

Notice also the battered barber pole just to the left of the Acme Beer sign, alongside that Joad-ready truck. Behind it is the building which would later become the world-famous Sheepskin City and Battery4Prius.

At some point, of course, this bar was replaced by a gas station. For comparison’s sake, here the exact same spot, as it looked circa 1970, at the moment when Steve McQueen begins the famous car-chase scene in Bullitt:

The left side of the streetcar image provides a clear view west up Precita Avenue, with the southeast corner of Precita Park visible in the background, and ample parking available for rickety-looking motorcars:


We’ll zoom into Precita Park in a moment. But first, here’s a reverse angle, showing the 36 Folsom at Army Street, looking to the southeast. That’s the south slope of Potrero Hill in the background:

Google Street View confirms that the houses on that side of Precita still look pretty much the same today.

Backing up Precita, we get some terrific views of Precita Park. Here’s Alabama at Precita looking northeast. The exact year is unknown, but it looks like the early 1940s, judging from the styling of the car in background:

The building on the corner in the right side of the image is now the fabulous Precita Park Cafe (as shown here), but back then it was… a SAFEWAY?!


Spinning 180 degrees from about the same spot, we get the reverse view looking toward the southern edge of the park  in 1939:


That’s the future Precita Park playground site on the right, and some very lax parking enforcement on the left. Here’s a closeup of the streetcar itself:
Finally, there’s this amazing photo, which Bernalwood has previously explored. This is the view of the 36 Folsom tracks  from the other end of the park,  on the southwestern corner of Precita and Folsom, as it looked in 1943:

New Track Work and Repairs L.V. Newton Negative 6

Here’s an annotated version:


The Palermo Bakery is now home to Precita Clean laundromat, while the Yosemite Meat Market on the corner is the location of today’s Charlie’s Cafe.

Very special thanks to our friends at Open SF History, Rick Laubscher from Market Street Railway, and Bernal Neighbor Michael Nolan for sharing the photos that made this Magical History Tour of Precita Park possible.

Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules


Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency Board will consider some proposed updates to the “red carpet” lanes installed recently on Mission Street to provide more rapid Muni bus service. The red carpets have been very popular among transit riders, but some Mission Street merchants have expressed concern that the revised traffic flows have been bad for business.

Here’s what the SFMTA has in mind:

We recognize [the red carpet] was a big change for the Mission, and it’s our priority to make it work for everyone. Already we’ve made several changes to enhance the project and make traffic flow more smoothly. We will be recommending a few more changes to improve traffic circulation, which will be heard at the next SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. The SFMTA commits to continuing to monitor Mission Street to ensure the project goals are achieved.

Mission Street Changes at SFMTA Board
August 16, 2016
Mission item will be heard at 3:00 PM
City Hall Room 400
If you are unable to attend, submit comments to

The following changes will be recommended for legislation by the SFMTA Board of Directors:

  • Removing two of the required right turns on Mission at 26th and 22nd. This will allow vehicles to travel four blocks on Mission before encountering a required right turn, making it easier to access businesses and find parking along the street. We expect this change to improve traffic circulation without increasing through traffic or delaying bus riders.
  • Relocating the outbound Cortland stop to the nearside of the intersection. Moving the bus stop nearside will improve boarding ease for Muni riders.
  • Exempting taxis from the left turn restriction at 21st Street. This exemption, in the middle of the Mission corridor, will provide more options for taxis to reach their destinations.

The recommended changes are the result of a series of community engagement activities to discuss how the new street design is being perceived by neighborhood residents, bus riders, motorists and others using Mission Street. Staff worked closely with community members, Muni riders, neighborhood organizations and other non-profit organizations, as well as David Campos, District 9 Supervisor. Outreach activities included several small group discussions, a community hearing (summary of comments heard is available here), merchant walks and an intercept survey of 1,400 people on Mission Street.

That SFMTA survey is interesting, because it underscores the extent to which the data about how shoppers get to Mission Street diverges from what merchants believe about their customers. In an article that looked at this question, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner wrote:

The recent SFMTA survey of people in the Mission — conducted June 28, June 29 and July 9 — found that 69 percent of 1,400 respondents went to the Mission by public transit.

Those surveyed arrived to eat, drink, visit friends and work. But the largest group surveyed — about 350 people — was there to shop.

Specifically, the SFMTA said 76 percent of surveyed shoppers “usually” take transit, and 10 percent drive.

Merchants, however, disagree that most shoppers take transit.

Michael Gardner, the 42-year president of Siegel’s Clothing Superstore & Tuxedos on Mission Street, felt the survey was all wrong.

“This just doesn’t make sense to me. It just can’t be right,” he said.

For Bernal Heights residents,  the mandatory right turn on Mission Street northbound at Cesar Chavez has been a particular point of concern. The SFMTA’s FAQ explains why the mandatory turn at Cesar Chavez will remain in place:

Why aren’t you removing the required right turn at Cesar Chavez?

We heard many requests to remove the required right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, which some feel acts as a barrier to two neighborhoods. This was a difficult decision. Doing so would make traffic and transit performance worse on northbound Mission Street than before the project was implemented because one lane of traffic was removed [to create the restricted access lane for Muni buses].

The required turn at Cesar Chavez diverts drivers who drive through Mission toward downtown. Instead, we will address community concerns by removing two of the required right turns at 26th and 22nd to improve access to destinations along Mission without congesting the street with traffic looking for a fast way downtown.

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

D9 Candidate Josh Arce Proposes 30th Street BART Station and Housing Plan


For 80 years, the citizens of Bernal Heights and La Lengua have fantasized about creating a train station on Mission Street around 30th Street. Indeed, the fantasy is even older than BART itself. Yesterday, the idea of a BART 30th Street Station was revived again.

Standing in the half-empty parking lot of our historically joyless Safeway, D9 Supervisor candidate Joshua Arce unveiled his “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez Plan,” a proposal to build 2000 of units of new housing in La Lengua and add a new BART station at 30th Street.

MissionLocal was there for the announcement:

The development, part of a proposed “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez” plan, would “not touch any existing housing,” Arce said. The housing built would be a mix of market-rate projects and affordable housing.

“There’s never really been a plan for this neighborhood,” he added, standing with some 20 supporters in the Safeway parking lot at 3350 Mission St. where the new station would go. The Safeway itself could be incorporated into the new station, Arce said, or a new store could be built elsewhere.

The triangular slice of the Mission District between Mission and Valencia streets below Cesar Chavez Street — known by some as “La Lengua,” the “tongue” of the Mission — has no integrated transit plan, Arce said, and is ripe for housing needed to address the “displacement crisis” in the gentrifying neighborhood.

“This is a neighborhood that can play a part in the solution,” he said, saying the BART station could be the cornerstone of a new corridor. “What if that solution is just right here below our feet? And that solution, I propose, is the potential for a brand new BART station right here at Mission and 30th streets.”

The plans for the new transit station and housing are preliminary. Arce said the development “might take a long time” and estimated that the BART station alone could cost $200-$300 million. He said a mixture of developer’s fees from new market-rate housing in the corridor and state or federal funds could finance the project.

Innnnnnteresting! Bernalwood contacted Arce to find out more about his proposal. “I sat down with neighbors, local business owners, workers, and transit riders to talk about this unique part of the District,” he said. “What became clear in each and every single conversation is that people feel there is no clear plan for the housing, local business, and transportation needs of the neighborhood.”

Arce says the 2000 units of housing would be built on under-utilized sites in the area that have already been identified by the San Francisco Planning Department.  Today, these sites are parking lots, empty buildings, and locations that could be repurposed  for alternative or mixed uses. Here’s the Planning Department’s site map:


The basic idea, Arce says, is that the new housing and the new station would be mutually inter-dependent. BART is pretty tapped out financially, so investment in housing and local businesses would generate impact fees that would be used to pay for affordable housing and funding for a new BART station.

Of course, Bernalese have been dreaming about convenient access to a rail link for decades. Here’s a futuristic image from 1948. That’s Cortland Avenue heading up the hill to the right:


Let’s zoom and enhance, to take a closer look at our retrofuture:


San Francisco abandoned the whole Mission Freeway idea, thank goodness, but It sure would be nice to be one of those whispy people in the rendering, fashionably boarding and disembarking from a train that stops right at Bernal’s front doorstep.

The idea of adding a 30th Street Station to the existing BART line that runs under Mission Street has been studied from time to time, most recently in 2003:

30th.feasibilityThe 2003 study estimated that a 30th Street Station would cost around $500 million to build, in part because of the challenging grade on the site. The 2003 study also assumed that 30th Street station would include a secondary “pocket track” that could be used for parking or reversing trains as needed.

Arce says that based on conversations he’s had with BART officials, things may be different today. The requirement to level the grade of the track would not be as extreme, the pocket track could be eliminated, and tunnel-boring technology (like the machines used to create the new Central Subway downtown) could simplify construction. The result could be a 40% to 60% reduction in the cost of building a 30th Street Station.

Well, maybe. Hopefully. There’s a lot to like about all this, because we desperately need more housing, and a new BART stop would dramatically improve transit for thousands of current Bernal residents. But is this for real, or is it just a campaign stunt?

“This is a beginning,” Arce says. “Doing all this will take time, maybe a long time. But every plan starts with a first step, and we think this a great place to start.”

IMAGE: 1948 station proposal image courtesy of Eric Fischer.

Donate for a Mosaic at Your Fabulously Renovated Esmeralda Slide Park

Rendering of proposed mosaic

Rendering of proposed mosaic

Neighbors Joan and Nancy, the dynamic duo that has been organizing the (rather impressive) efforts to restore and renovate the iconic Esmeralda Slide Park, just launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $14,000 for a public art installation at the site. Neighbor Nancy says:

You may have seen our freshly poured Esmeralda Slide Park Plaza. It’s all done in beautiful aggregate concrete, except for a 9 ft. diameter smooth, cement circle. All kinds of theories have been circulating as to what that circle is for. Some people think it is for tetherball, others still think it is awaiting plumbing. NO, it is awaiting Public Art. Namely, “The Locator”.  Please see the GoFundMe campaign below and GIVE GIVE GIVE!

Here are the details, from the GoFundMe page:

We’d like to bring Public Art to Esmeralda Slide Park. A couple of months ago, the concrete Plaza was demolished to install an underground irrigation system for the Park. Joan Carson and Nancy Windesheim (local artists/neighbors) asked the City if they could design a mosaic tile inlay for the newly-poured Plaza. Permission was granted, but with no committed funds.

They designed a 9 ft. diameter inlay, “The Locator”,  to be installed in the Park’s plaza. The Park is adjacent to the middle of three stairways leading from The Mission to the top of Bernal Hill. The mosaic tile design will be directional signage. “It is our response to the navigational challenges we’ve witnessed when people come and go from Esmeralda Slide Park.”

The design features a compass surrounded by “Esmeralda Slide Park” with arrows pointing in 4 directions: Cortland Ave., Bernal Hill, Downtown, and Mission Street. The color blue signifies the sky, the greens represent open space and trees, and the textured grey rings suggest the surrounding urban landscape. The exterior smooth grey surface is temporary and will be completed to complement the mosaic tile and surrounding concrete aggregate.

Our target of $14,000 is for the fabrication and installation of the mosaic by Rachel Rodi, a leading professional in the field of “mosaic art”. Her firm, Rachel Rodi Mosaics, is based in the Bay Area and creates mosaics throughout Northern California and beyond. Her recent projects include outdoor murals, fountains, garden mosaics, and playgrounds.

This is a cool art installation that would come at an eminently reasonable cost, so please donate right here.


PHOTOS: via the GoFundMe page