Saturday: Let’s Celebrate the Restoration of Esmeralda Slide Park

The secret slides on Esmeralda have always been a symbol of community spirit and cooperation in Bernal Heights, and the recent re-restoration of the slides and the surrounding park was no exception.

Spearheaded by Neighbors Joan and Nancy with support from a diverse cast of Bernal neighbors and City officials, the Esmeralda Slide Park now looks better than ever, and the installation of “The Locator,” a gorgeous new mosaic funded by donations from our community, was the crowning detail.

So now it’s time to celebrate. Neighbor Joan shares this invitation to a celebration happening on Saturday morning, June 24:

“The Locator” mosaic wouldn’t have been created if it hadn’t been for your generous donations. So, once again, thank you.

IT’S PARTY TIME
Saturday, June 24, 2017
10:00 am to noon
Esmeralda Plaza (Esmeralda Stairs @ Winfield Street)

Come celebrate Our Collective Achievement!

Rachel Rodi (the tile artist) & her team, along with Nancy Windesheim & Joan Carson (the designers) will be on hand to answer any questions. We hope many of you can attend. Over 100 donors contributed to this project through GoFundMe.

Although the City did not fund the tile installation, Director Nuru graciously permitted it’s construction on public property. He and his key staff were very supportive of this project and will be present to share in it’s celebration.

Please RSVP to Esmeraldaslidepark@gmail.com by June 22

City will provide refreshments based upon RSVP replies.

PHOTOS: Top, The Locator mosaic, installed at the Emeralda Slide Park. Photo via Neighbor Joan. Below, restored slides, via Google

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