Crowdfunding for Esmeralda Slide Park Artwork Now Tantalizingly Close to Goal

Rendering of proposed mosaic

Rendering of proposed mosaic

As you may recall, there’s a crowdfunding effort now underway to raise $14,000 to install a very cool mosaic at the spiffy new Esmeralda Slide Park plaza. As we write this now, the effort has already raised $13,158, so if you haven’t contributed yet — or even if you have — now is the time to contribute.

Neighbor Nancy, one of the superstar volunteers who has been organizing the Esmeralda slides renovation project, writes:

We have less than $1,000 needed to reach our target.

[mosaic artist Rachel Rodi] came to Esmeralda last week for her first site visit to see where “The Locator” will be installed in the Plaza. She loved the surroundings, especially the pepper tree that lords over the Plaza. Between our concept design and the inspiration Rachel got from her visit, she’s eager to create a mosaic tile that will knock our socks off!

We’re giving Rachel her 50% deposit this week so she can order the tiles and put “The Locator” on her fall schedule.

If you haven’t yet donated, NOW is the time. We’d like to close the campaign down within the next couple of weeks knowing we have all the funds to pay Rachel.

To all of you who have donated…..THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Let’s do this! Please contribute now, right here, to help make this mosaic come to life at the fabulous Esmeralda Slide Park.

PHOTO: via the GoFundMe page

Planning Commission Unanimously Approves Housing at Powhattan Triangle

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Last Thursday, July 21, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal by a Bernal-based developer to build four new homes on an undeveloped lot between Powhattan Ave. and Bernal Heights Blvd.  by rejecting a request for discretionary review filed by neighbors opposed the development.

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The proposal calls for the construction of three new family-sized homes at 965, 985,  and 1025 Powhattan, and one new home behind them, at 40 Bernal Heights Boulevard. The project will also include a new public stairway that will follow the path of the undeveloped Carver Street, which runs just east of the site.

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The official summary of the project, and the request for discretionary review, was as follows:

40 BERNAL HEIGHTS BOULEVARD/965, 985, 1025 POWHATTAN AVENUE- the triangular-shaped project site is bounded to the south by Powhattan Avenue, to the north by Bernal Heights Boulevard, to the west by an undeveloped portion of Rosenkranz Street, and to the east by an undeveloped portion of Carver Street; Lot 010 in Assessor’s Block 5640 (District 11)- Request for Discretionary Review (DR) of building permit application Nos 2014.0521.6382; 2014.0521.6394-6396, proposing subdivision of Block 5640 Lot 010 to create four new separate lots and construction of one three-level single-family dwelling on each new lot within a RH-1 (Residential House, One-Family) Zoning District, Bernal Heights Special Use District and 40-X Height and Bulk District. This action constitutes the Approval Action for the project for the purposes of CEQA, pursuant to San Francisco Administrative Code Section 31.04(h).

The Bernal neighbors who opposed the new housing framed their concerns mostly in terms of preserving “neighborhood character”:

A group of more than 150 neighbors has filed for a Discretionary Review with the SF Planning Commission on the 4 large luxury homes to be developed along Bernal Heights Boulevard and Powhattan Avenue. The hearing before the SF Planning Commission on this development is scheduled for Thursday, July 21, 2016 at approximately 1 pm in Room 400 at City Hall. Join us at the hearing to let your voice be heard.

We are greatly concerned about this development in part because:

  • The proposed development, in its totality, is out of context and scale with the established character of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood and sets a precedent for denser development.
  • The proposed homes are not consistent with Planning Code, Residential Design Guidelines, Bernal Heights East Slope Building Guidelines, and General Plans (e.g. there are no Front Yard Setbacks).
  • Safety Issues: Because there are no front yard Setbacks, a driver pulling out will be unable to check for pedestrians and traffic before crossing the sidewalk and entering the street.

Prior to the meeting, an analysis by Planning Commision staff determined that the proposed housing “meets all aspects of the Planning Code,” and that it’s “consistent with the scale and character of the immediate neighborhood,” and that it “meets the [Bernal Heights East Slope Building Guidelines].”

After much discussion and debate, all six of the the Planning Commissioners agreed, and the request for discretionary review was denied. A few minor revisions to the project were requested. That means construction on four new homes in Bernal Heights may begin soon. But this is San Francisco, of course, so who really knows?

SITE PLANS: Planning Department analysis for 965 Powhattan

Chef Prem Tamang Relocating Nepali Restaurant to Bernal’s “South Asian Restaurant Row”

cuisineofNepal

A few weeks ago, Bernalwood received an adorable email from Prem Tamang, the chef and owner of the much-loved Little Nepal restaurant on Cortland:

I have been running Little Nepal restaurant since 2003. The time make me to move to mission and cortland 3486 B mission.

It will be Cuisine of Nepal. I can’t take name of little Nepal because I was leasing this business. When I moved to mission street with new name cuisine of Nepal I would love to put in Bernalwood post so that all bernal Nighbor will know that I moved.

Best regard, prem

“Of course!”we replied. Bernalwood will gladly share the news that Little Nepal is relocating to Mission Street, where Chef Prem will operate under a new name as Cuisine of Nepal.

Last week we received more detail on the move. Cuisine of Nepal will open at 3486 Mission, right across from the intersection with Cortland. The soft opening may happen as soon this Saturday, April 30 (fingers crossed), with the proper grand re-opening festivities scheduled for Saturday, May 14.

Chef Prem’s press release says:

Owner/Chef Prem Tamang announces the Grand Opening of his new restaurant, Cuisine of Nepal, located in the heart of Bernal Heights’ South Asian Restaurant Row at 3486-B Mission Street at Cortland Ave. The 30-seat restaurant reflects Nepal’s warm hospitality, where the cozy setting and market-fresh fare are as welcoming as a traditional Nepali home.

Chef Prem Tamang leads the kitchen with a menu that features local seasonal ingredients including neighborhood favorites such as Kukhurako Ledo (Chicken Cashew Curry), Saag Tarkari (Mustard Leaf Curry), and Poleko Khasi (Sizzling Lamb), as well as new specialties specific to Tamang’s home village in Nepal.

Since 2003, Chef Tamang has honed his skills as owner/chef at Little Nepal restaurant, a Bernal Heights gem where the San Francisco Chronicle has urged diners to “discover intriguing twists and variations on traditional South Asian dishes.” Tamang’s warmhearted approach and love of preparing fresh meals can be traced back to his nascent work as a high altitude cooking expert on Himalayan treks in his native country, where he prepared delicious meals at 14,000 feet above sea level for hardy mountain-climbers from around the world. […]

Open six days a week (closed Mondays), Cuisine of Nepal is located in the heart of Bernal Heights’ South Asian Restaurant Row at 3486-B Mission Street (at Cortland), San Francisco, CA 94110. The restaurant is open for Lunch Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm, and for Dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 4:30 – 10:30 pm. Major credit cards are accepted. Catering, Takeout, and Free Delivery are also available.

***OPENING DAY PARTY: The public is invited to join Chef Tamang & staff on Saturday, May 14th, from Noon – 8 pm, as Cuisine of Nepal offers a one-time only $5 Sampling Menu, with a choice of tasting one Appetizer and two Entrees from the day’s special menu plus Rice, Naan,and Lal Mohan dessert. A $2 glass of Wine or Beer will also be available to those 21 and over.***

Did you catch that bit about the Bernal Heights “South Asian Restaurant Row”?

It’s true! The corner of Mission and Cortland will now be home to restaurants representing India (Zante’s and Spicy Bite), Cambodia (Ankor Borei), and Nepal (Cuisine of Nepal). This is great news, because, our South Asian Restaurant Row is a terrific compliment to our NanoTokyo District, clustered just up the street around Mission and 29th Street.

So let us now join together to say: YUM!

Best wishes with the move, Chef Prem, and so glad you’re still a part of our community.

PHOTO: Work-in-progress facade of Cuisine of Nepal, as seen on April 23, 2016. Photo by Telstar Logistics

Vote Now to Get a Community Kiosk in Precita Park

Neighbor Demece Garepis, the high priestess and Jedi grant-wrangler for the Precita Valley Neighbors, is asking Bernalese to stuff the ballot box vote online to help get a community information kiosk installed in Precita Park:

After our Precita Park Clean Up last month, we made a video showing our support for an information kiosk in Precita Park. Like the one on Bernal Hill, the kiosk is a community information board serving the needs of all neighbors – from preschool to meals on wheels. Now is our chance to vote for our Precita Valley Neighbors Community Kiosk! If we get enough votes, we can fund our kiosk through the San Francisco Parks Alliance Action Grants!

Click here then follow the links to VOTE FOR PRECITA VALLEY NEIGHBORS COMMUNITY KIOSK!!

PVNvote

Thanks!

Demece Garepis, contact
Precita Valley Neighbors

PVN even made a video to support the effort. Watch it now, before it takes home an Oscar in 2016:

PHOTO: Precita Park by Telstar Logistics

Saturday: Rock the Block at the Spectacular Elsie Street Block Party!!!

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Elsie - Group picture

Elsie Bhangra Amy-Edward

Citizens of Bernalwood, you are invited to the most spectacular… the most glamtastic… the most charming block party in all of Bernal Heights (and perhaps the entire galaxy).

It’s happening on Elsie Street between Cortland and Eugenia tomorrow, Saturday, September 20 from noon until 3:30 pm.

It’s the ELSIE STREET BLOCK PARTY! And here are just a few of the fabulous highlights:

There will be a kickoff Parade for decorated bikes, wagons, and kazoos at noon!!

There will be an intensely competitive Bakeoff (with trophies)!!

There will be the inevitable Bouncy House!!

There will be Bhangra dancers!!

And BBQ!!

And a Puppeteer!!

And fantastic Bernalese brimming with Neighborly Cheer!!

Find out more on the Elsie Street Block Party page on the Facebook, but most of all just be there… Be There… BE THERE!

Science Says Awesome Neighbors Have Fewer Heart Attacks

elsieneighbors

There are many good reasons to be a fantastic neighbor, not the least of which is that fantastic neighbors are fantastic. Not coincidentally, Bernal Heights is famous for being fantastic, in no small part because Bernal Heights has a long tradition of highly engaged neighborliness.

That’s great for Bernal Heights, of course. But it may also be good for you. A new study suggests that people who feel more connected to their neighbors are less likely to experience a heart attack.

Writing for The Atlantic, James Hamblin explains:

According to new research published today from psychologists at the University of Michigan, I’m less likely to die of a heart attack than I would be if I gave in to my more introverted tendencies.

Social connection at the neighborhood level has long been known to be associated with good mental health, and some aspects of physical health. But this is the first study to look specifically at neighborhood social cohesion and heart attacks, which hit more than 700,000 Americans every year and cost everyone billions of dollars.

“There’s evidence suggesting that negative factors of the neighborhood, things like density of fast food outlets, violence, noise, and poor air quality impact health,” lead researcher Eric Kim, a psychologist in his final year of doctoral work at the University of Michigan, told me. I’d add broken windows. One 2003 study found that “boarded-up housing” predicts high rates of gonorrhea in a neighborhood, as well as premature death due to cancer or complications of diabetes. (And murder.) More recently, researchers from University of Pennsylvania looked at the health detriments associated with vacant land. By their understanding, abandoned buildings lead to isolation and erosion of social relationships, mutual trust, and collective efficacy, which leads to poor physical health.
Kim’s team is focusing on the other side of things: the positive elements of a neighborhood that “might perhaps be protective or even enhancing of health.” For a young scientist, Kim is precociously well versed in the language of hedging.

The study du jour, published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, is based on assessments of social connectedness in 5276 adults in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The subjects rated how strongly they agreed with the following four prompts:

  • “I really feel part of this area.”
  • “If [I] were in trouble, there are lots of people in this area who would help.”
  • “Most people in this area can be trusted.”
  • “Most people in this area are friendly.”

The responses landed the participants on a seven-point Likert scale. And then they were followed. Four years later, 148 of them had experienced heart attacks.

“On the seven-point scale,” Kim explained, “each unit of increase in neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of heart attacks.”

“If you compare the people who had the most versus the least neighborhood social cohesion,” Kim continued, “they had a 67 percent reduced risk of heart attacks.”

Citizens of Bernalwood, you now know know what to do.  Sally forth, be fantastic, be neighborly, and live longer.

PHOTO: Fantastic Elise Street neighbors in 2011 demonstrating how to reduce the risk of heart attack. Photo by Adrian Mendoza

Secured: Precita Park to be Removed from Calle 24 District

PrecitaUnicorn

The campaign was brief, and it was intense, but we are pleased to report that it was successful. Precitagate has come to a conclusion. With the support of the 24th Street merchants group, D9 Supervisor David Campos has announced plans to remove Precita Park from the Calle 24 district and restore it to the Citizens of Bernal Heights.

As you recall (because it happened just yesterday), Bernal Heights residents were surprised to learn — belatedly, and for the first time — that Precita Park had been included  as part of the new Calle 24 Latino Cultural District created by merchants from 24th Street in the Mission. The resolution creating Calle 24 was sponsored by Supervisor Campos, and in a process that’s still not fully understood, Precita Park was included as part of the Calle 24 district — and thus may have been subject to various special use restrictions that a Calle 24 district designation may one day entail. Only, no one remembered to tell the residents and merchants of Precita Park that Precita Park was part of the Calle 24 district. Oops.

In any event, the inappropriateness of this has now been acknowledged, and Supervisor Campos’s office released a statement late yesterday to announce that Precita Park will be removed from Calle 24:

Recognizing Calle 24 Latino Cultural District is important to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood and promote its unique spirit. It was the intent of the community leaders and organizers working on this project to demonstrate the historical significance of 24th Street and the surrounding places that have impacted the neighborhood. Precita Park and La Raza Park were two of many significant landmarks included in the resolution. However, because of concerns related to future steps regarding the formal recognition of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, on Tuesday, I will submit a clarifying resolution that will amend the resolution and remove Precita Park and La Raza Park from the Latino Cultural District.

This is welcome news, and we are thrilled to see this matter resolved unambiguously. Bernalwood will continue to monitor the Calle 24 resolution to ensure that Precita Park is removed as promised.

Some outstanding issues remain, however. Like, how did Precita Park become part of Calle 24 in the first place? And why didn’t anyone tell us about it along the way?

Finding definitive answers to these questions has been challenging. Thankfully, we also heard from Erick Arguello, president of the Calle 24 Merchants and Neighbors Association, who writes:

Calle 24 SF is a community organization that lead the planning efforts for the [Calle 24] resolution with the Latino Historical Society and SF Historical Society. The Latino Cultural District is the resolution that covers the area. Precita Park, Potrero del Sol were added when the historical context statement was created. It brought together areas that had historical significance in the Latino community, its history and contributions for the area. Precita Park is were the first Carnaval events were held over 35 years ago and continues today. Many rallies and protest by the Latino community were held there when Los Siete were incarcerated. 24th and Mission BART Plaza also holds historical significance for the Latino Community, called Plaza Sandino by the community. This occured when many rallies and protest were centered on the plaza during the Central American war in Nicaragua.

Its a symbolic resolution that has no teeth to land use, the park, businesses or the surrounding Precita Valley. Many other areas or sites of San Francisco will be added when the SF Latino Historical context statement is completed. (Which is a separate project)

Its not a historic district, but a cultural district. The name itself may bring confusion. Its basically saying that Precita Park holds historical significance in the history of the Latino community of San Francisco. Calle 24 and the surrounding area holds many many points of history and culture and events.

If we offended anyone it was not the intention and a mistake on our part for not reaching out.

We are moving to remove Precita Park from the resolution.

Bernal Heights is grateful to Mr. Arguello for clarifying this, and for his understanding in removing Precita Park from the Calle 24 district. Soon, we hope to return to the pre-Calle 24 status quo.

24th Street will be part of the Mission.

Precita Park will be part of Bernal Heights.

Bernal Heights remains extremely proud of its Latino history and culture, and the borders that distinguish Precita Park from 24th Street will remain invisible and permeable, in an arrangement that provides rich benefits to both neighborhoods — as has been the case for decades and generations before, and (we hope) many more to come.

PHOTO: Precita Park on May 25, 2014, by Telstar Logistics