Watch Sexy New LED Streetlights Appear On Mission

San Francisco is gradually replacing its old streetlights with new LED fixtures.  La Lengua rebel propagandist Burrito Justice documented the transition on of one fixture Mission just south of Precita this morning.

Watch:

Burrito Justice says that from start-to-finish, the process took about 10 minutes.

The San Francisco Water Power and Sewer website explains why the new LED streetlights are so sexy:

The City’s street lighting system is improving. Starting in 2017, we’ll begin replacing approximately 18,500 City-owned high-pressure sodium street light fixtures with money saving, ultra-efficient light emitting diode (LED) fixtures.

The new LEDs will improve lighting conditions throughout the City and will last about four times longer than existing lights while using half as much electricity.

Our new LEDs, with a color temperature of 3000 Kelvin, will emit warm, white light. Installation is quick and easy with little to no construction impacts on private property.

Perhaps best of all, our LEDs (like all existing City street lights) will be powered by our 100 percent greenhouse gas-free energy portfolio which includes Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric energy and solar energy.

PHOTO and GIF: Courtesy of Burrito Justice

What Happened to the Big Tree in the Bernal Heights Library Playground?

Bernalwood has received several shouts of alarm from Central Cortlandia, where neighbors report that the big shade tree in the playground behind the Bernal Heights Library was suddenly and summarily cut down.

Neighbor Melissa writes:

Sad news for the younger set: The Bernal library playgrouind tree has been taken down without comment. This was really the only source of shade on the playground, so many youngsters (including my own) loved this tree. No word from Rec and Park on the tree’s removal, and no word on what’s next for the hundreds of families that use this park. What gives?

Neighbor Kathryn adds:

The beloved library tree was taken out. Apparently, it was dying. People are really missing this tree.

I know a lot of trees are dying due to the extra rain after our long drought, but how do we know the tree was dangerous? Lots of things are dying, but they may still be around for years or even decades to come.

One thing that is baffling – there is no plan to replace the tree yet – or even a plan to remove the stub.

Apparently, SF Parks and Works doesn’t have access to a stump removal machine, which strikes me as very bizarre considering they remove trees often.

If it takes an act of God for homeowners to get approval to remove a tree – why can Parks and Recs just swoop in and cut down a tree? For homeowners, there is a long drawn out process for notifying the community. Most requests are denied – and if a home owner appeals, they must provide proof of why the tree is an endangerment. If any tree is removed, there must be an approved plan for replacing it BEFORE it is removed.

Why is this not the case for Parks and Rec?

Questions of arboreal equity aside, Bernalwood reached out to the San Francisco Rec and Park department to learn more about the situation.

Connie Chan from Rec and Park tells Bernalwood:

The tree was assessed as hazardous and deemed unsafe by the Department’s Urban Forestry crew. At this time, our crew is working to remove the remaining stump so that it would allow new tree planting in the area in the near future.

We definitely plan to plant a new tree, but in order for that to happen, we have to remove the stump so that it has the space to plant the tree.

Chan adds there is currently no timeframe or estimate when the tree in the Bernal library playground will be replaced.

PHOTOS: Top, Bernal library playground with no tree, by Neighbor Melissa. Below, tree stump by Neighbor Kathryn

New Mosaic Completed at Esmeralda Slide Park

After the amazing re-renovation, and the successful community crowdfunding effort, Bernal Neighbor Joan “The Whirlwind” Carson says the new, geo-cool sidewalk mosaic atop the Esmeralda Slide Park is now complete.

Neighbor Joan tells Bernalwood:

With all the fanfare I can muster, I can proudly announce “The Locator” has been successfully installed in the Plaza at Esmeralda Slide Park. For those of you who don’t know what ” The Locator” is, be prepared to see a 9 foot diameter mosaic tile installation in the Plaza’s sidewalk.

Although the installation took but 5 days, March 8-12, it has been in the works since September 2015. I had it in my head that the Plaza would be a great place to have some kind of signage to help folks know where the Park is in relation to the surrounding area. I floated the idea by Nancy Windesheim, my organizing partner who happens to be a graphic artist extraordinaire. I came up with a concept drawing and Nancy translated it into a graphic image.

In January 2016, the initial design was embraced by the Department of Public Works as part of their continued effort in renovating Esmeralda Slide Park. I searched for local tile artists who could fabricate the design into a walkable surface and discovered Rachel Rodi, an accomplished tile artist whose background included other walkable surfaces in public settings.

Nancy and I raised the funds for Rachel’s fabrication through a GoFundMe in July-August 2016. So many of you gave…. 125 donors to be exact. Josh Arce brought in 2 big donors and helped get us fiscal sponsorship from the Laborers’ Community Service And Training Foundation.

Esmeralda mosaic fan club watching the installation

So here we are today with this beautiful piece of Public Art. For me, seeing it is a daily reminder of what “We” can collectively create when we bring together community, government, corporate and non-profit entities.

Special thanks to Neighbors Joan and Nancy, and everyone who worked or contributed to make the glorious and symbolically important Esmeralda Slide Park awesome again.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbor Joan

Baffled Motorists Use New Valencia Bike Lane for Parking Instead

Cars parking in the new Valencia bike lane on Feb. 26. Photo via @roessler

Cars parking in the new Valencia bike lane on Feb. 26. Photo via @roessler

The peripheries of Bernal Heights have long been a place where forward-thinking streetscape infrastructure collides head-on with the gritty realities of urban life.

Once upon a time, The Bernal Cut was carved from the hillside of southwest Bernal as part of an urban freeway network that never got built, while Army/Cesar Chavez was widened to funnel traffic onto an East Bay bridge that never came to pass. We live in more environmentally sensitive times today, but the new bike lane on the La Lengua stretch of Valencia Street between Mission and Cesar Chavez shows that we haven’t lost our capacity to create well-intentioned traffic infrastructure that’s an albatross practically from the moment when it’s completed.

As you may recall, a  new bike lane was a centerpiece of the recent effort to redesign our humble stretch of Valencia Street. Taking a cue from such famously bike-friendly cities as Copenhagen and Portland, Oregon, the Valencia bikeway was built as a dedicated lane for bikes that’s separated from the street and motor vehicle traffic by a small curb. The plan was quixotic from the outset, in part because traffic on that block of Valencia is already modest, but mostly because there was never really a plan to extend the dedicated bike lane farther down Valencia.  So the 551-foot Valencia bike lane was always destined to be something of a white elephant, more or less by design.

Now that construction is done, the dedicated bikeway on Valencia has also become an object of ridicule, as frustrated cyclists have chronicled the follies of the many confused motorists who have parked their cars directly in the bike lane. And sometimes, in the lane next to it too:

In fairness to the befuddled motorists, some confusion was to be expected given that the old parking meters rmain in place next to the sidewalk, while no signs were installed to explain how the new (and locally unfamiliar) streetscape design was intended to work.

Not to worry though; local cyclists report that SFMTA has come up with an effective way to educate motorists about the new streetscape, with help from a futuristic regiment of scientifically designed traffic cones.

CORRECTION AND UPDATE: Bernalwood is informed that the ridiculously effective traffic cones were NOT put in place by SFMTA. Instead, La Lengua’s rebel propagandist Burrito Justice installed the cones in a guerrilla action after seeing a pile of the cones sitting idle on the other side of the street.

PROGRESS!

Epic Rains Trigger Mini-Mudslide on Bernal Hill

mimimudslide

Heavy rains over the weekend triggered a mini-mudslide on Bernal Hill, along the south side of Bernal Heights Boulevard, just east of Ellsworth.

Neighbor Fiid shared this photo of the washed out segment of the slope, and from this angle is looks like Bernal Hill is trying to reclaim the roadway. Which, in a geological sense, it most certainly is.

UPDATE: Bernalwood dispatched the Mobile Uplink Miata to the slide scene this morning. Here’s a complete daylight view: 


In addition, there are many smaller slides and mud flumes visible all over Bernal Hill, so tread carefully to avoid slipping and/or exacerbating soil erosion. 

New “Lake Alemany” Entices Local Media and Watersports Enthusiasts

lakealemany

After several days of nonstop rain, Lake Alemany has taken form beneath the 101-280 “Spaghetti Bowl,” in southeast Bernal, and the new reservoir quickly attracted the attention of local television crews.

Neighbor John was also on the scene at Bernal’s own version of the Salton Sea, and he reports that Lake Alemany is 1-2 feet deep in the middle, and about 30′ wide. Here’s a close-up:

lakealemanydetail
No word yet on whether the Recreation and Parks Department plans to open Lake Alemany for bumper-wakeboarding and alligator hunting, but Bernal residents are advised to keep their air boats, amphibious vehicles, and fishing equipment at the ready, just in case.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Neighbor John

Supervisors to Consider Neighbors’ Appeal of New Homes Proposed on Folsom

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

The ongoing battle over a proposal to build two family-sized homes on an undeveloped Folsom Street lot on the south side of Bernal Hill will move to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, January 24, as a group of nearby neighbors who oppose the new homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom have appealed to block the project on environmental grounds.

Despite previous efforts to block the homes, the proposal was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission in October 2016.  Bernal Neighbor Herb Felsenfeld is again organizing project opponents in advance of the Board of Supervisors meeting, as outlined in a talking-points he sent to allies in mid-January:

We have spoken before about the proposed development @ 3516/26 Folsom Street. After almost 3 years of sustained effort we are now at a critical pivot point. We have the support of over 300 individuals + community groups like the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Bernal Heights Democratic Club, The Sierra Club and the East Slope Design Review Board. Finally, we have an opportunity to present a reasonable, appropriate, and legitimate request for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the full Board, with a District Supervisor who can speak about the issues.

Tuesday, January 24, City Hall, Room 250,
Starting at 2:00 PM*

*If you can attend, let me know & I can tell you where we are on the Agenda as we get closer to the date of the Hearing

I hope you will consider joining me in one of the following:

  1. Attending the Hearing
  2. Speaking at the Hearing
  3. Contacting our District 9 Supervisor:
    1. Email: RonenStaff@sfgov.org
    2. Call: 415-554-5144

These are the issues that are most pressing and should merit an EIR

  • This is one of the steepest slopes in the City. It rests atop a 26” gas transmission line, for which safety records and pipe weld reports have never been released.
  • The line is maintained by a company, PGE, known for its shoddy record-keeping and its secrecy.
  • The developer’s Geo-technical & topographical survey of the slope is over 3 years old. Its analysis lacks detail and rigor.
  • There are “cumulative effects” that need attention: “Piece mealing” (infrastructure would be in place for 6 houses not 2); still to be considered – proper drainage; emergency vehicle access; blocking the nearest intersection, traffic issues, etc.

While PG&E’s reputation has suffered greatly as a result of disclosures and criminal wrongdoing related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, reporting by Bernalwood in 2014 indicated that Pipeline 109, which currently runs under Folsom Street, has been regularly inspected, and that routine procedures exist to safeguard any construction activity near the pipeline.

Current route of PG&E's Pipeline 109 through Bernal Heights

Current route of PG&E’s Pipeline 109 through Bernal Heights

Fabien Lannoye, the owner of the lot at 3516 Folsom, previously told Bernalwood he plans to build a home there as a residence for his family. In a recent email to project supporters, Lannoye wrote:

Most of you know that we purchased a residential lot on Bernal, planning to build our house, a discreet 2,200 SF 3 bedroom home, with its garage tucked into the hillside, in scale with the existing adjacent homes. We filed our permits three years ago but have met much resistance from a few of the adjacent neighbors, who consider the land their private open space.

Those neighbors filed 19 Design Reviews against the project. At the Planning Commission Hearings the Planning Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of our project 6-0, and then 7-0 (we had to go back to the Planning Commission after the Planning Department re-issued the Categorical Exemption). A Categorical Exemption (known as a “CatEx”) is the norm for any project LESS than 3 residences, exempting such projects from having to do an EIR (Environmental Impact Report).

The neighbors have now appealed the CatEx.

Their appeal will be heard this Tuesday 1/24, and voted upon by the SF Board of Supervisors. This is why we are contacting you, for your brief kind help in sending a simple e-mail note this weekend to District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, asking her to vote to support the project and Affirm the Categorical Exemption Determination – Proposed Project at 3516-3526 Folsom Street.

The neighbors have been using the scare tactic that a PG&E Gas pipeline runs up Folsom Street and that construction on our lot would trigger a new San Bruno. A PG&E representative came to the Community meetings we held with the neighbors to answer their concerns, and to clarify the step-by-step, strictly regulated process of investigation, verification and guidance before and during construction.

PG&E stated that they had no concerns since the excavation would take place more than 10’-0” ft away from the existing pipeline (we will be 15-16 ft away).

We have tried to get more information from PG&E, as have the Planning Department and DPW, but PG&E states that they will not provide any further information until the Site Permit is issued, which is the normal process.

The neighbors hope that we will abandon the project if we’re forced to do a full EIR, or, at least delay the project an additional 2 years.

Although most of the Supervisors seem inclined to support the CatEx, our concern is that the local Supervisor (newly elected Hillary Ronen, replacing David Campos) has already been approached by those neighbors. David Campos  resides 200 feet from our project.

We were able to (briefly) meet with Supervisor Ronen, and she seemed sympathetic to our case but she may be politically pressured to side with the neighbors.

We appreciate if you would e-mail Supervisor Ronen and let her know that you support the project and hope she will uphold the Categorical Exemption carefully and rightfully issued by the Planning Department.

Requiring an EIR will not serve any other purpose than to delay the project. It would create a precedent of requiring an EIR for any project within 20 feet of a gas pipeline, pipelines exist everywhere in the city. An EIR costs $50,000 – $200,000 and takes approx two years.

Here’s how the appeal is listed on the Board of Supervisors agenda for the January 24, 2017 meeting:

[Hearing – Appeal of Categorical Exemption from Environmental Review 
Proposed Project at 3516-3526 Folsom Street]
Hearing of persons interested in or objecting to the determination of exemption from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act issued as a Categorical Exemption by the Planning Department on July 8, 2016, approved on October 13, 2016, for a proposed project located at 3516-3526 Folsom Street, to allow the construction of two 3,000-square-foot single-family residences on two vacant lots. (District 9) (Appellant: Ryan J. Patterson, on behalf of the Bernal Heights South Slope Organization, Bernal Safe & Livable, Neighbors Against the Upper Folsom Street Extension, Gail Newman, and Marilyn Waterman) (Filed November 14, 2016)

PHOTOS: Rendering of proposed homes via Fabian Lannoye