Painted Rock on Bernal Hill Joins the Resistance


The clever elves who decorate the iconic and always-topical painted rock overlooking San Francisco from the north side of Bernal Hill are at it again, as the rock has now  been transformed into a pillar of political resistance.

Neighbor Annie Sprinkle shared this photo of the painted rock over the weekend, capturing the glorious moment as a member of the Bernal Heights Canine Cadre stood guard to defend the painted rock against hooligans, reactionaries, subversives, xenophobes, and Milo Yiannopoulos.

PHOTO: Courtesy of @AnnieSprinkle

Foes and Friends of Planned Parenthood Face-Off During Weekend Demonstrations

In case you missed it — or didn’t hear it — there was a big anti-abortion protest in La Lengua last Saturday at the Planned Parenthood on Valencia.

The protest inspired an even larger counter-demonstration on the part of pro-choice advocates, who rallied to show support for Planned Parenthood’s services. Things got tense, but remained peaceful, as MissionLocal describes:

San Francisco Police Lieutenant Eric Washington said that some 12 officers oversaw the protest to facilitate both sides’ “first amendment rights” and to ensure that there is “no violence on either side.” By 2:45 p.m., the vocal crowds disbanded, and only a handful of protesters remained.

Gilda Hernandez, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood, said that the organization had originally encouraged protesters standing on both sides of the issue to express themselves “far away from our health center.”

“This is quite intimidating for people who are just seeking healthcare,” said Hernandez said about the clinic’s clients, adding that she was nonetheless appreciative of the strong show of support.

Read the full report, with more video, at MissionLocal.

VIDEO: via MissionLocal

Bernal Artist Turns Graphic Design Into Peaceful Protest


Bernal Neighbor Hope Meng is is putting her design skills to work political change. She tells Bernalwood:

Wanted to let you know about my own little protest happening over here on unassuming Banks Street.

I’m a graphic designer living, working, and raising my kids with Bernal Hill as my backyard. For the past 2 years, I’ve been working on a personal passion called Monogram Project. It’s a slightly insane typography exercise to draw every combination of 2 letters possible with our 26-letter alphabet.

Following the absolutely heartbreaking results of the 2016 election, it suddenly became clear to me what this project wanted to be: my own form of peaceful resistance. I launched on Inauguration Day. ALL proceeds for the next 4 years (please let it be only 4 years) will be donated to organizations that work to ensure our civil liberties and protect the equality of all people. I’ll choose a different worthy organization each quarter and announce it on my website.

I am taking my broken heart and I am making it into art.


IMAGES: Courtesy of Hope Meng

Bernalwood Endorsements for the November 8, 2016 Election


Citizens of Bernal Heights! It’s time to vote!

The day after Great Britain’s sad Brexit vote, a New York Times reporter joked on Twitter that “the State of California should go around the world doing a scared-straight talk on governing by referendum.” So true. The same can be said for the City of San Francisco. There are so many local propositions on this ballot that we almost ran out of letters in the alphabet, and only four of them got there thanks to citizen signature drives. Most of the rest came from members of the Board of Supervisors. Pity us, and pity your USPS letter carrier.

Per usual, voters are advised to be wary of any initiative that ends up on our ballot. Yet there’s a lot at stake for Bernal Heights in this election — including a new representative on the Board of Supervisors — so here is Bernalwood’s superhyperlocal guide to navigating your unwieldy San Francisco ballot.

(NOTE: For the TL; DR, A handy clip n’ save/copy n’ paste version of Bernalwood’s slate card appears at the end of this post.)

Joshua Arce
Bernal Heights rarely gets the opportunity to choose a new representative to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but Supervisor David Campos is termed-out, and it’s time for a change. A real change.

At first blush, the two leading candidates for the D9 Supe seem pretty similar. Joshua Arce and Hillary Ronen are both progressive. Both are parents to young children. Both speak Spanish fluently. Both are lawyers with deep experience fighting for social justice. And both are renters (though Ronen only moved to D9 late last year).

The big difference between them is that Hillary Ronen is running as the chosen heir to David Campos, our current Supervisor. For the last six years, Ronen has been an insider working for Campos in City Hall as his legislative aide, and she’s running to continue many of his current policies for another four+ years. That’s unfortunate, because Supervisor Campos has become an increasingly divisive and mean-spirited figure who presided over a worsening affordability crisis in D9, with no new affordable housing developments built here during his tenure. Meanwhile, increased property crime has been a persistent woe, along with indifference to quality-of -life concerns and transit improvements. Campos has also dogmatically opposed building more housing (at least until lobbyists pay proper homage).

Sure, it sucks to have an embarrassing boss, but as Campos’s self-described “chief of staff,” Ronen bears some responsibility for failures that include many pieces of legislation that were thrown out by the courts, others which backfired, and an exasperating pattern of ignoring constituent calls and emails. (Really, it’s difficult to overstate how frequently Bernalwood hears about this from frustrated Bernal residents who have gotten zero response from Campos’s office in general, and sometimes, from Ronen in particular.)

This pattern of sloppiness seems set to continue, as the centerpiece of Ronen’s campaign is a pledge to create 5000 new units of subsidized-affordable housing in the next 10 years. It’s a swell slogan, and a nice round number, but here in the realm of reality, subsidized-affordable housing costs around $600,000 per unit to build. So Ronen’s 5000 units would cost a staggering $3 billion, and her plan is so poorly thought-out that when asked at a recent debate how she would make it happen, she pulled a Rick Perry and forgot her own answer.

Enough. As D9 Supervisor, Josh Arce would be a more effective progressive to represent Bernal Heights. With a background in environmental justice and affordable housing development, Arce is a patient community-builder and a careful policymaker, and in recent years he’s used those skills to help shut down dirty power plants and create new employment opportunities for local construction workers. Here in Bernal, neighbors have praised his work on projects such as the Esmeralda Slide Re-Renovation and the installation of the (previously stalled) new Coleridge Mini-Park lighting. The reports Bernalwood has received highlight his persistence, his ability to get results from City bureaucracy, his engagement, and his attention to detail.

Arce’s proposal to pay for a new BART station on Mission at 30th Street by building 1600 new units of housing on City-identified sites and parking lots is a compelling long-term vision for the future of our Mission Street corridor. And though Arce is the first to admit it will be challenging to realize, a new BART station would also cost at least $2.5 billion dollars less than Ronen’s far-fetched housing scheme. In the face of the ongoing affordability crisis, we need a Supervisor who will work for all D9 residents without creating spiteful divisions based based on when people moved here and where they go to work. Josh Arce is the best candidate to represent Bernal Heights on the Board of Supervisors.

Scott Wiener
There’s an open State Senate seat, and two current members of the Board of Supervisors — Jane Kim and Scott Wiener — both want the job. Both have done good work on the Board of Supes, but Wiener has been more steady supporter of creating more new housing of all types and improving our transit system.  As an added bonus, Wiener also enjoys a strong reputation for providing timely responses to his constituents’ concerns, and he’s a data geek. Jane Kim is charismatic, but Scott Wiener’s overall approach to policymaking has been more more rigorous and more consistent. So he gets the nod.

Stevon Cook
Matt Haney
Trevor McNeil
Rachel Norton

Paul Henderson

D9 – Gwyneth J. Borden

Amy Bacharach
Rafael Mandelman
Alex Randolph
Shanell Williams

PROP A: School Bonds – YES
Proposition A would authorize the San Francisco Board of Education to issue $744 million in general obligation bonds to upgrade San Francisco public schools. Most of the money will be used for seismic upgrades and modernization of existing schools, but the bond would also enable construction of two new elementary schools and a new school for the arts, a well as some dedicated housing for teachers.

PROP B: City College Parcel Tax – YES
City College of San Francisco is a public community college that provides crucial (and affordable) educational opportunities for residents who need them most. Prop B would impose a parcel tax $99 per property per year for 15 years to provide dedicated funding for CCSF. Sadly, CCSF has struggled in recent years, after its accreditation was almost revoked in 2013 because of poor financial management.  The struggle continues, but Prop B would help but City College on a more stable footing — assuming the Board of Supervisors resists the temptation to meddle in the school’s affairs.

Prop C: Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing – YES
Prop C would make it possible to use about $261 million in leftover funds from a previous seismic retrofit bond to acquire and rehabilitate apartments for conversion to permanently affordable housing within the framework of the City’s Small Site Acquisition and Rehabilitation Program. The City would use the funds to offer low-interest loans so “private parties” (mostly nonprofit housing agencies) can acquire buildings that might otherwise be converted into single-family homes or condos.

D: Vacancy Appointments – NO
Prop D would change the system used to fill vacancies when elected officials — such as members of the Board of Supervisors — give up their seats. Under the current system, the mayor appoints people to fill vacancies until the next citywide election, when the appointed office-holder must stand for election like any other candidate. Prop D would change that, by requiring a special election to be held within 180 days of a vacancy occurring. But Prop D’s special elections would be expensive and cumbersome to administer, with low voter turnout likely, so the special elections would be ripe for manipulation by special interests and political factions. Any effort to change existing election rules should be viewed with a skepticism, and Prop D is a classic case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. No on D.

Prop E: Responsibility for Maintaining Street Trees and Surrounding Sidewalks – YES
In 2014, San Francisco effectively walked away from it’s longstanding commitment to maintain the trees that line City streets, and arbitrarily shifted the cost of street tree maintenance to private homeowners. For some unlucky residents, like Bernal neighbor Laura Gold, this has resulted in massive tree pruning bills levied under threat of legal penalty. Prop E reverses this by establishing a relatively modest (but apparently adequate) budgetary set-aside that will allow the City to once again assume responsibility for street tree maintenance. Street trees grow in public space, and all San Franciscans benefit from them. This is the kind of public infrastructure that taxes are supposed to pay for.

Prop F: Youth Voting in Local Elections – NO
Prop F would allow 16 or 17 year-olds to vote in local elections, but as argued elsewhere here, any effort to change our electoral rules should be approached with caution.  Voting is a privilege, and elections have real consequences. So if you’re intimidated by the task of wading through all 24 (!!!!) of the San Francisco propositions placed on this ballot, there’s little reason to think that 16 year olds have any more o the judgement, experience, or patience required to make informed decisions on taxes, bonds, charter amendments, civic administration, resource allocation, and land use policy. Yet.

Prop G: Police Oversight – YES
Prop G would give more teeth to the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC), the body that currently investigates allegations brought by members of the public regarding wrongdoing by San Francisco Police Department. Prop G would reconstitute the OCC as a new Department of Police Accountability, while separating its budged from that of the Police Commission — and thus, hopefully, giving it more independence as well. The last few years have provided plenty of evidence that we need stronger oversight of the SFPD, and Prop G is a step in the right direction.

H: Public Advocate – NO, NO, NO
Do you think we need a new a new bureaucracy to administer City programs, conduct public hearings, and introduce legislation to the Board of Supervisors? In other words, do you think we need yet another politician to perform the same tasks that the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors already perform right now? Prop H would do just this, creating a new elected official and a parallel set of new City Hall staff positions, with taxpayers footing the bill for all this the tune of about $4 million a year. That’s a lot to pay to get more redundancy and red tape. There are plenty of dubious ideas on this ballot, but Prop H is one of the silliest — unless you happen to enjoy bloated bureaucracy and pointless political gridlock. Vote no.

Prop I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities – NO
Prop I would require the City to spend $38 million from the general fund to pay for support services for seniors and adults with disabilities, with the size of the fund increasing by about $3 million a year until 2026-2027. This is a worthy cause, of course, but budgetary mandates are bad policy because they restrict the City’s ability to prioritize spending when times are lean. Say no to clumsy budget set-asides. No on Prop I.

J: Funding for Homelessness and Transportation – NO
Prop J would mandate that a portion of the new tax revenue created by Prop K would be allocated for use to fund homeless services and transportation improvements. As with Prop I, however, this is another case of worthy causes tied to yet another misguided “set-aside” funding requirement. Say no to gimmicky budget set-asides. No on Prop J.

Prop K: General Sales Tax – NO
Prop K would increase the sales tax by 0.75% for a total sales tax rate of 9.25%. It’s intended to work in tandem with Prop J, which would set-aside this new revenue for  transit improvements and care for the homeless. (The two propositions appear separately as part of a ballot box hack that allows each measure to pass with just a simple majority, rather than two-thirds requirement that applies to new taxes allocated for specific purposes.) We need more transit funding, and we need to do more to help the homeless, but regressive sales taxes, rigid budget set-asides, and ballot-box games are the wrong way to get there. 

Prop L: MTA Appointments and Budget – NO
Transit riders in the Mission and Bernal say Muni has generally been performing much better lately. Now the Board of Supervisors wants to screw it up again. Prop L would alter how appointments are made to the SFMTA Board of Directors by creating split appointments between the Board of Supervisors and the mayor. It also allows the Board of Supervisors to overrule the SFMTA’s budget by a simple majority vote.  Both of these proposals would reverse the (largely effective) Muni governance reforms San Francisco voters approved in 1999. Muni still has a long way to go, but exposing it to more political interference by Supervisors would be a great leap backward. The San Francisco Transit Riders Union agrees — they’re opposing Prop L too. 

M: Housing and Development Commission – NO
San Francisco’s stifling bureaucracy and byzantine permitting process has been a major cause of our current housing affordability crisis. Anyone who lives here knows this intuitively, and an overwhelming majority of economists say that existing barriers to home construction make our affordability and inequality problems  even worse . Prop M would add even more bureaucracy and even more opportunities for political meddling with San Francisco’s planning process. That would likely make our housing affordability problem worse.

N: Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections – NO
Prop N would allow non-citizens to vote in San Francisco School Board elections. While non-citizen parents with kids in City schools certainly have a stake in our civic institutions, the notion that citizenship is a basic voting requirement remains a foundational idea of our democracy — and Prop N may be run contrary to California’s state constitution. San Francisco voters have already rejected this idea twice, in 2004 and 2010.

O: Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point – YES
Prop I would allow office development in Candlestick Point and the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard to proceed without counting toward the annual citywide cap on allowable office development in San Francisco. This is what happens when one generation of San Franciscans uses the ballot to make future city planning a ballot issue. First, we passed Prop M in 1986, which capped the amount of office space that can be built each year. Then we passed Prop G in 2008, to approve major development in Bayview/Hunters Point. But the development approved by Prop G busted the Prop M cap for office development (none of the office construction has even begun yet,  8 years later). So now we’re trapped in a foolish cycle of passing repeated ballot measures to get around the Prop M straightjacket when planning priorities change, We should leave the planning process to our elected officials, rather than slavishly binding ourselves to the anxieties of 30 years ago.

Prop P: Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property – YES
Prop P would require the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) to publish proposed affordable housing projects to the public for open bidding and submission of proposals. At least three bids or proposals must be received, and the City would be required to accept the proposal that’s the “best value” (but not necessarily the cheapest). MOHCD already uses a competitive bidding process to select developers for affordable housing opportunities on city-owned property, and in the past 17 years, most projects have had at least two bids. Yet a clubby atmosphere exists among many of San Francisco affordable housing developers, which often partner with one another both to secure public development contracts and oppose market-rate housing construction. In other words — Surprise! — affordable housing developers can be just as political and self-interested as any other real estate developer.   Prop P would help keep those tendencies in check, and at a time when it costs $600,000 to build a single unit of affordable housing in San Francisco,  taxpayers need to make every dollar go as far as we can.

Q: Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks – NO ENDORSEMENT
San Francisco’s homeless problem is both a tragedy for those who are homeless and an unfair burden placed upon City residents who live near homeless encampments.  This initiative won’t eliminate tents on public sidewalks, but at a time when San Francisco is already spending almost $250 million a year on homeless services, it should come as no surprise that many San Francisco residents will use this flawed proposal to send a message that allowing people to live in tents on City sidewalks is simply not acceptable.

R: Neighborhood Crime Unit – NO
Prop R would require the San Francisco Police Department t establish a Neighborhood Crime Unit and staff it with a minimum of 3 percent of all sworn personnel. Yes, absolutely, local property crime is a huge issue in San Francisco — and here in Bernal. But locking-in police staffing ratios by way of a ballot measure is the wrong way to solve the problem.

Prop S: Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds – NO
This would set-aside a portion of our hotel tax revenue to support the arts and homeless families. ( San Francisco has some of the highest hotel taxes in the nation.) As we’ve said elsewhere here, the arts and homelessness are important priorities, but set-asides established at the ballot box are a terrible way to establish policy.  We elect the Mayor and our Supervisors to set budget priorities and make hard choices, and we should hold them accountable. Say it like a mantra: Budget by ballot is a bad idea.

Prop T: Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists – YES
Prop T imposes stricter registration requirements for lobbyists and restricts gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists to city officials. It would require lobbyists to identify which city agencies they intend to influence. It would also prohibit lobbyists from making any contribution to city elected officials or candidates, as well as from gathering contributions from others (known as “bundling”). SF already requires lobbyists to register, to disclose who they lobby, and to disclose any contributions. (And this is how we know about D9 candidate Hillary Ronen’s cozy and complex relationship with the developers building 2000 Bryant Street, for example.) There’s nothing wrong with lobbying per se, but the more openness and transparency that surrounds it, the better. 

Prop U: Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects – YES
Amid the clamor to create more subsidized-affordable housing in San Francisco, many  residents are stuck in a Twilight Zone: They’re not wealthy enough to buy a market-rate home, but they earn too much to qualify for subsidized housing. Prop U would make subsidized housing available to those who earn 110% of Area Median Income (AMI), up from 55% AMI today. (For reference, 110% of AMI is $118,450 for a household of four.) The downside is that opening up subsidized affordable housing to moderate-income buyers may increase competition for subsidized units among lower-income people. Tough call here, because this proposal basically pits the poor against people like public school teachers, and it doesn’t provide any new affordable housing. But on balance we’d prefer to make subsidized housing available to more San Franciscans.

Prop V: Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages — Meh
Sugary drinks are shitty products, but they’re not the same as cigarettes. That’s to say, the harms caused by sugary drinks don’t justify a regressive tax on soda intended to discourage people from buying it. (And the tax probably doesn’t work anyway.) However, the scope and slippery scale of the effort launched by soda companies to oppose Prop V has done them no favors. Forced to choose between Big Soda and a patronizing nanny-state intervention, we throw up our hands in  fizzy disgust.

Prop W: Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million – NO
Prop W would increate the size of the tax charged when real estate with a value of more than $5 million is sold. This has been pitched as a way to stick it to the rich, but the tax doesn’t only apply to single-family residences. Any property that sells for more than $5 million would be subject to the new tax, including multi-unit dwellings, tenancies-in-common, and office buildings. San Francisco already has higher transfer taxes than most other municipalities in the region, and Prop W is poorly tailored. Truth is, $5 million isn’t all that much in our City’s ridiculously expensive  real estate market, and there’s no compelling reason to make it even more expensive for people who want to invest in the future of our City.

X: Preserving Space for Production, Distribution, and Repair Spaces in Certain Neighborhoods – NO, NO, NO
San Francisco faces a housing shortage in no small part because we enact so many land use restrictions. That’s counterproductive, if your goal is to prevent displacement. If we want to make housing more affordable and more plentiful, we must make it easier to build more housing in parts of the City where it’s needed most. Prop X makes home construction harder, by requiring that we set aside more space for warehouse and manufacturing use. Even SFMade, a trade group representing 650 San Francisco-based “makers,” says Prop X is a bad idea. Put housing first, with no exceptions. No on X.

Prop RR: BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief YES, YES, YES
This is the proper way to pay for the public transit improvements we so desperately need. Prop RR authorizes BART to issue $3.5 billion in bonds to fund system renewal projects, backed by a tax on property within the three-county BART District (which includes San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties). To pay for the bond, property taxes of the typical SF homeowner would rise by approximately $2 per $100k of assessed value in the first year, up to $17 per $100k of assessed value per year by 2035.  (The average tax increase over the life of the bonds is about $9 per $100k of assessed value per year).  BART is 40 years old. It desperately needs more maintenance and repair. Prop RR is a no-brainer, and frankly, we only wish the bond issue was bigger, to make BART even bigger, and even better.


Bernalwood’s November 2016 Election Endorsements


  • Board of Supervisors, District 9: Joshua Arce
  • State Senate: Scott Wiener
  • Judge: Paul Henderson
  • School Board: Stevon Cook, Matt Haney, Trevor McNeil, Rachel Norton
  • BART Board: Gwyneth J. Borden
  • City College:  Amy Bacharach, Rafael Mandelman, Alex Randolph, Shanell Williams


Prop A: YES
Prop B: YES
Prop C: YES
Prop D: NO
Prop E: YES
Prop F: NO
Prop G: YES
Prop H: NO, NO, NO
Prop I: NO
Prop J: NO
Prop K: NO
Prop L: NO
Prop M: NO
Prop N: NO
Prop O: YES
Prop P: YES
Prop R: NO
Prop S: NO
Prop T: YES
Prop U: YES
Prop V: MEH
Prop W: NO
Prop X: NO!
Prop RR: YES


Discrepancies Appear in Photos of Hillary Ronen Campaign HQ Graffiti

The fishy tale of the hateful graffiti that appeared on the campaign headquarters of District 9 supervisor candidate Hillary Ronen just got a little more fish-smelling.

As you may have heard, during Labor Day weekend, sometime in the early hours of Monday, September 5, someone scrawled misogynistic graffiti on the doorway of D9 candidate Hillary Ronen’s headquarters at 3417 Mission Street (between Kingston and Eugenia) in Bernal Heights.  The graffiti, which appeared to support Joshua Arce, Ronen’s foremost rival in the D9 supervisor race, said: “Vote Arce Ya C***s.”

In a Facebook post shared at 6:17 pm on Monday, Sept. 5, Hilary Ronen shared a photo of her staff as they painted over the graffiti:


Meanwhile, that same day, candidate Joshua Arce condemned the graffiti, and disavowed any involvement with it:

I was saddened to learn this morning that someone had defaced my opponent’s office with offensive and misogynistic graffiti. I reached out to Hillary to see if we can help remove the graffiti because I would never condone or stand by while someone, who claims to support me, uses hateful language and defaces private property. While this race may get contentious at times, there is no excuse for the type of behavior that was shown this morning.

So, whodunnit?

Fast-forward a few weeks, and KPIX reporter Joe Vasquez broke the story about security camera footage that captured the scene when the vile graffiti was scrawled on the Ronen HQ door:

The video shows that at 5:22 am on Monday, September 5, two people — a man and a woman — worked together as a team to vandalize the front door of Hillary Ronen’s campaign headquarters.

The  footage, which we later learned had originally been obtained by the Arce campaign, shows that the man and the woman started by walking north along the west side of Mission Street, past the 76 gas station on the corner of Mission and 30th Street.  The man is wearing dark pants and a jacket. The woman is wearing a hat and boots, and carrying a cup of coffee. After passing the gas station, the pair crosses over to the east side of Mission street before doubling-back to the Ronen campaign headquarters. Then, the video shows, as the woman stood watch, the man squatted to write something in the doorway of Ronen’s campaign headquarters. With new markings visible on the door, the duo then continued walking north on the east side of Mission Street.

The footage is grainy, somewhat dark, and somewhat distant. Nevertheless, political junkies, reporters, and (now) SFPD investigators all over town have been obsessively zooming and enhancing the video, in hopes of finding a way to identify the perpetrators shown in the video.

Admittedly, Bernalwood editor has dabbled in some of this obsessive zooming and enhancing as well. But recently, when we took a step back to look at some of the photos of the doorway taken before the graffiti was painted over, we noticed something… rather curious.

Here are two posed photos taken while Team Ronen was painting over the vile graffiti. The same people are present in both images, and both were taken within a few moments of one another:


Two versions of a moment:  Photo by Sana Saleem/48Hills, left, and Ronen campaign, right.

The photo on the left was taken by journalist Sana Saleem, and published on the 48Hills site on Monday, September 5. The photo on the right is the one shared by Hillary Ronen (and provided to media sites like MissionLocal).

It would appear that both photos were taken at almost the exact same time. The same people are in the photos, in the same places and the same postures. Likewise, the sun is in the exact same position, as you can see by when we zoom and enhance the shadow shown on the bucket of paint:


But when you put both photos side by side and pull back just a little bit more, the photos begin to diverge. Can you spot the difference?


Here’s a clue:


Innnnnnnnnnteresting! In the photo on the right — the one published and distributed by Hillary Ronen’s campaign — the campaign signs for Tom Temprano and Mark Sanchez have been replaced by campaign signs for Kim Alvarenga and Jane Kim.

Another photo shows how the doorway looked earlier that same day. Here’s a tweet posted at 1:15 pm by @acordova:


As we can see, the configuration of the signs in the earlier photo matches what’s shown in the 48Hills photograph from later that same day, with signs for Tom Temprano and Mark Sanchez displayed in the campaign HQ window.

When asked about the discrepancy, Hillary Ronen told Bernalwood: “I switched the position of the signs when I took my photo to show solidarity with other women candidates who have also been subject to hateful attacks during this election cycle.”

Editor Tim Redmond from 48Hills has confirmed that the 48Hills photo was taken by reporter Sana Saleem. Bernalwood also asked Sana Saleem if she saw the signs being changed. Saleem said that while she wasn’t at the site for long, she did not witness the signs being rearranged.

Finally, just to complete the very strange circle, while the photo from the early afternoon of Sept. 5 shows the Alsarenga-Kim signs positioned on the right side of the doorway, this photo taken by Bernalwood yesterday shows them now on the left:


Wednesday: D9 Supervisor Candidates Debate at Brava Theater

The D9 Candidates: Clockwise from top left: Joshua Arce, Iswari Espana, Hillary Ronen, and Melissa San Miguel

The D9 Candidates: Clockwise from top left: Joshua Arce, Iswari Espana, Hillary Ronen, and Melissa San Miguel

The face-off between Hillary and Donald isn’t the only debate people are talking about this week; Here in San Francisco’s glamorous District 9, the four candidates hoping to replace David Campos on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will be onstage together for a debate at the Brava Theater on Wednesday evening, September 28.

All D9 voters are welcome, and admission is free:

The Board of Supervisor representative for District 9 ~ Supervisor David Campos term expires at the end of 2016.

Four candidates are running for election to replace Supervsior Campos: Joshue Arce, Melissa San Miguel, Hillary Ronen and Iswari Espana.

The debate will focus on key issues that affect District 9: Youth, Seniors, Housing, Business, Immirgration.

Sponsored by: Mission Merchants Association, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, Our Mission No Eviction, Mission Peace Collaborate, San Francisco Lowrider Council, Cultural Action Network.

Wed, September 28, 2016
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Brava! for Women In the Arts
2781 24th Street
San Francisco, CA

Get your free tickets here


Supervisor Campos Seeks to Revive Mission Moratorium on New Housing

Site of proposed housing at 1515 South Van Ness, photographed on August 9, 2016

Site of proposed housing at 1515 South Van Ness, photographed on August 9, 2016

Less than a year ago, in November 2015, San Francisco voters were asked to vote on Proposition I, the Mission Moratorium, which sought to suspend construction of new market-rate housing in the Mission District. On election day, however, voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop I, by a 57% margin.

Yesterday, however, MissionLocal broke the story that District 9 Supervisor David Campos now seeks to ignore the results of the Prop I vote and implement the Mission Moratorium through the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors. MissionLocal writes:

In a letter sent to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Campos urged commissioners to delay all projects in the [Calle24] Latino Cultural District, which is bounded by Potrero Avenue and Mission Street between 22nd and Cesar Chavez streets.

Campos singled out for delay three housing developments planned for the Mission District that would would bring in 293 units of mostly market-rate housing in the next few years. All three are being opposed by neighborhood activists, who say they would worsen gentrification in the district.

“These and several market-rate projects in and next to the cultural district could transform the district and threaten to displace long-time residents, businesses, and non-profits,” Campos wrote. “The Planning Department should consider the impacts of these projects on the Latino Cultural District and develop measures that will mitigate those impacts.”

That area was designated a “Latino cultural and commercial district” by San Francisco in 2014, a largely symbolic proclamation. Calle 24, the neighborhood and merchants association, hoped that designation would lead to construction guidelines down the road with more legal standing.

Now, Campos and others are acting on those wishes, crafting legislation that will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors later this year to specify the kinds of development that should be allowed in the neighborhood.

Campos wants the Planning Department to study the effects of market-rate housing on the district, specifying the potential effects on neighborhood businesses, residential displacement, rental affordability, and “the Latino community.”

This is a strange request, not least because it would exceed the legal mandate of the the Calle24 Cultural District, which does not include any development guidelines, ethnic quotas, or demographic requirements. Regardless, MissionLocal reports that Erick Arguello, a Mission District landlord and power-broker who leads the Calle24 group, opposes the creation of new market-rate housing projects, even when they meet city-mandated requirements for subsidized-affordable units.

The three housing proposals that would be impacted by Supervisor Campos’s revived Mission moratorium are 157 units at 1515 South Van Ness (at 26th St.), 117 units at 2675 Folsom St. (at 23rd St.), and 19 units at 2600 Harrison (at 22nd St.). All three sites are currently occupied by empty warehouse-style buildings, and construction of new housing on these sites would not displace any existing residents.

In a 2015 study on the potential impact of the Proposition I Mission moratorium, San Francisco’s chief economist concluded there is “no reason to believe that either a temporary moratorium, or an indefinite prohibition, of market rate housing will reduce the number of upper- income residents in the Mission, or slow the process of gentrification.”

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.

Your Hyperlocal Analysis of 2016 Primary Election Results in Bernal Heights


Citizens! On Tuesday we did the Democracy Dance, as many tens of thousands of San Franciscans went to the polls to vote in the 2016  California Primary. Now that the results are in, Bernalwood reached out to Neighbor Adam to provide some of his signature, precinct-by-precinct analysis of how Bernal Heights voted.

In this installment, Neighbor Adam looked at two of the most hyperlocally polarizing (and Zeitgeist-revealing) contests on the ballot: The Democratic presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and the face-off between D11 State Senate candidates Scott Wiener and Jane Kim.

According to the results posted by the San Francisco Department of Elections, Clinton thumped Sanders by nearly 20,000 votes citywide, winning 55% of the vote vs. Sanders’s 44%. The D11 State Senate contest was much closer, with Scott Wiener edging out Jane Kim by 3000 votes, 46% vs. 44%.

But how did Bernalese vote? For that, let’s go to Neighbor Adam at the Bernalwood Election Analysis Desk:

Here’s a quick analysis of the Democratic primary for president and the State Senate race between Wiener and Kim. These numbers are based on the final numbers on Election night, but there are still some vote-by-mail votes yet to be counted. Not sure how much they will change the results, but I don’t think much.

The Elections department didn’t  break out the votes by neighborhoods, like they have in the past, so I was stuck having to look at the precincts. These don’t match up exactly with the neighborhoods (N. Bernal and S. Bernal) that Elections has used in the past, so I had to approximate. The biggest difference this time around is that I omitted 3 precincts that are officially part of “South Bernal” but that we all consider part of Glen Park.

So what we have so far:

Democratic Presidential Primary

South Bernal
Sanders – 1104 – 46%
Clinton – 1306 – 54%

North Bernal
Sanders – 1880 – 50%
Clinton – 1848 – 50%

State Senate Race

South Bernal
Jane Kim – 1266 – 54%
Scott Wiener – 1093 – 46%

North Bernal
Jane Kim – 2151 – 59%
Scott Wiener – 1513 – 41%

(Note: Percentages are based on the total votes just for the top two candidates; third-place and other votes are not included. But these other votes generally made up less than 5% in each race.)

There are a couple of interesting takeaways here.

First, as we witnessed in past elections, North Bernal (which includes everything north of Cortland, but also includes a few blocks south of Cortland from Folsom to Bayshore) leans slightly left of South Bernal. This is much more obvious in the Wiener/Kim race than it is in the Clinton/Sanders race.

I looked at Bernal micro-neighborhood differences, based on Bernalwood’s subdistrict map:


Quite honestly, not a whole lot of difference. For South Bernal, most precincts went Clinton, with Sanders winning only south of Holly Park (in precinct 7944, which includes a bit of the Holly Park sub-neighborhood and a bit of the Baja Cortlandia sub-neighborhood).

The most interesting discrepancies can be found in North Bernal, where Sanders won the precincts bordering Mission and Cesar Chavez, with Clinton winning the precincts going up the hill and over to Cortland St. It looks to me there is something of an elevation issue for North Bernal — the higher up the hill you are, the more likely you were to vote for Clinton.

In the Wiener/Kim race, every precinct in both North Bernal and South Bernal favored Kim, except three: the two precincts that make up The Lost Tribe of College Hill (which Wiener now represents as their district Supervisor, and which he won handily) and a single precinct in The Hill People of Powhattan subregion, directly above the 101 (where Wiener squeaked out a win). Kim won every other Bernal district by fairly large margins, across the board.

The second interesting takeaway is that Kim’s totals did not mirror Sanders’ totals. For instance, Kim’s strongest precinct in Bernal was 7936, in Cortlandia, which was also a Clinton stronghold. It’s tempting to say that quite a few Kim voters broke right and voted for Clinton (or that quite a few Clinton voters broke left to vote for Kim), but it bears observing that more people voted for Kim/Wiener than voted for Sanders/Clinton. This is no doubt due to the nonpartisan nature of the Kim/Wiener race, meaning that that election was on every ballot, where the Clinton/Sanders race was only on the Democratic ballots (which some “no party preference” voters could request if they wanted).

It’s hard to know, then, how much gender may have played a role in Bernal’s vote totals (accounting for Kim and Clinton winning the neighborhoods) vs. how much did the third-party voters play a role in the Kim-Wiener race.

One final detail: The Department of Elections says that voter participation was 49.9% of registered voters in North Bernal, and 46.3% in South Bernal.

So there you have it, Citizens! Very special thanks to Neighbor Adam for crunching the numbers, and onward we go to the General Election in November.

Citizens! It’s Election Day in Bernal Heights!


Citizens of Bernalwood, today is the day to strap on your democracy and get thee to a polling place. It’s Primary Election Day, 2016!

Here’s some last-minute guidance from your San Francisco Department of Elections:

All San Francisco polling places citywide are open for voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

San Franciscans can confirm the location of their polling place at or by calling (415) 554-4375.

Voters may also vote at the City Hall Voting Center. Located on the ground floor of City Hall, the Voting Center is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Vote-by-mail voters may drop off their ballots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at any polling place in San Francisco, at the Department’s Ballot Drop-off Stations outside two City Hall entrances–the main entrance at Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place (Polk Street) and the Grove Street entrance– or at the Department’s office.

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked with today’s date and received by the Department of Elections no later than Friday, June 10.

Got that?  Good!

Happily, voter-participation in Bernal Heights is usually rather high, and if Neighbor Tom’s experience this morning is any indication, that trend is set to continue this year:

PHOTO: Election Day on Precita Avenue, 2011 by Telstar Logistics

UPDATED: Cheerful Painted Rock Becomes Charged Political Battlespace


Until now, painted rock on the north side of Bernal Hill has mostly been used as a festive way to celebrate seasonal holidays like Valentine’s DayChristmas, and St. Patrick’s Day. Also: your mama.

Over the weekend, however, the  colorful decor took an unfortunate turn as the rock became a political canvas where supporters of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took turns bashing one another.

Neighbor Karen documented the battle between the Bernie-ites and the Clintonistas.

This past Thursday: the gold-painted rock was painted blue. (shown above)

Saturday AM: Two women were spotted adorning the blue with “Bernie Rocks”:


By Sunday, this was defaced:


Later Sunday, this countered the defacement:


Frankly, this is an unfortunate development. Aside from the fact that slogans painted on a rock are unlikely to influence the behavior of even one actual voter, the only real winners in the debate are the killjoys who have always opposed any painting on the rock at all.

Just saying: As a surface for seasonal art and creative expression, the painted rock has become a Bernal Heights icon. But as a battlespace between rival Democratic factions, the rock is about as much fun as political discourse on cable television. Or, put another way, all that is pretty much the exact opposite of this:


UPDATE 26 April, 9:50 am: Ah, that’s more like it. Neighbor Christiano tells us that as of this morning, the rock has been transformed yet again. Yay!purplerock

PHOTOS: Blue rock battle by Neighbor Karen. Cupid rock from 2012, by Neighbor Rally.

MUNI Riders Resist Complaints; Say New Mission Street “Red Carpet” Is Working


Your Bernalwood editor rode a MUNI 14 bus down Mission Street yesterday for the first time in a long time. The bus was modern and new, and the ride was conspicuously swift. Thank you, Mission Street red carpet!

A few weeks ago, D9 Supervisor David Campos decided to stand with the cars, arguing that the new Mission Street red carpet and transit improvements must be rolled back:

I have heard from many of you — car commuters frustrated by traffic jams that stretch multiple blocks; pedestrians concerned about increased safety risks because of irate drivers; residents along the corridor dealing with nonstop yelling and honking horns; and small businesses unable to get goods into their stores because unloading zones have been taken away. That’s why I’m calling on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to make a radical shift in the program

While it’s certainly true that the new configuration on Mission Street has caused some disruption and side-street spillover, it’s not at all clear the program should radically revised right now.  A “Transit First” policy is city law, after all, and it takes time for old habits to change and new traffic patterns to become familiar. Best of all, there are already signs that the red carpets and mandatory turns are working as intended; MUNI riders say the changes have dramatically improved bus service along Mission Street:

Writing at the N Judah Chronicles, transit blogger Greg Dewar says the backlash typifies why it’s so devilishly hard to make MUNI the much-better transit system everyone says they want:

If you’ve ever wondered why it is hard to Get Things Done with Muni, the current brouhaha over improvements in the Mission to the 14 Mission, and to traffic in general is an example. Muni rolled out some significant improvements to the 14 Mission line, and already there’s “anger” from a few nuts online. The changes have had less than a few weeks to take hold, but apparently dealing with the changes is too difficult for some people to handle like adults – hence the temper tantrums online in places like the infamous “” and in the media.

These folks have found politicians eager to score political points, enough so that the SFMTA may back down on plans it has been working on for almost TEN years (and about a zillion “community meetings” in the process).

The SF Transit Riders, a grassroots organization that represents public transit users, has launched a #KeepMissionRed campaign to support the red carpet lanes:

Starting in March, after a decade of numerous community discussions, planning and studies, Muni finally started installing transit priority treatments on Mission Street. Just a month in and despite flagrant violations by drivers, they are already benefiting riders by making their rides faster and more reliable.

However, there has been a major backlash against these changes, and some, in particular Supervisor David Campos, have called for rollback of this major progress. It is a betrayal of the 65,000 riders who are served by the 14, 14R and 49 buses, as well as a betrayal of the Transit First charter of this city.

Along with my high-speed ride down Mission Street yesterday, I’ve also noticed that the morning traffic backups at the Mission/Cesar Chavez intersection have subsided. The line of cars waiting to turn left from Cesar Chavez onto South Van Ness is longer than it used to be, but the new queue seems to move pretty quickly.

It’s reasonable to assume that some adjustments to the new red carpet configuration may be needed. But a “radical shift” to the program, as Supervisor Campos has suggested, would be irresponsible and unprogressive. The recent rollback of the single-lane configuration for the San Jose Avenue exit from I-280 provides an encouraging sign that transit officials will abandon new traffic schemes when time, data, and experience demonstrate that changes aren’t working as intended. Truth is, we don’t yet know what’s best for Mission Street.

Patience seems like the best policy here. The red carpet lanes on Mission Street need more time  to settle in. If we sincerely want to improve our public transit system, the SFMTA should be encouraged to try new things, and we should expect that real progress usually takes time to reveal itself.

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

Bernal Hill Is Backdrop for NY Times Article on New Housing Politics


In case you missed it over the weekend, Sunday’s New York Times described the shifting dynamics of housing politics in San Francisco, as a new generation of activists seeks to fight displacement and sky-rocketing rents by building more housing for everyone in San Francisco, more quickly.

The article is an interesting read for anyone who cares about affordability in San Francisco, but the online version of the story opens with a drop-dead gorgeous view of Twin Peaks and Noe Valley as seen from Bernal Hill during a perfect golden sunset.

From our hill, the City’s multitudes are revealed.

When you’re done bathing in the fullscreen warmth of that image, the article goes on to frame the housing debate as a struggle between old-guard San Francisco ideologues and a younger generation of activists who are priced out of the housing market:

Across the country, a reversal in urban flight has ignited debates over gentrification, wealth, generational change and the definition of the modern city. It’s a familiar battle in suburbs, where not-in-my-backyard homeowners are an American archetype.

In San Francisco, though, things get weird. Here the tech boom is clashing with tough development laws and resentment from established residents who want to choke off growth to prevent further change.

[Sonja Trauss from the Bay Area Renters Federation]] is the result: a new generation of activist whose pro-market bent is the opposite of the San Francisco stereotypes — the lefties, the aging hippies and tolerance all around.

Ms. Trauss’s cause, more or less, is to make life easier for real estate developers by rolling back zoning regulations and environmental rules. Her opponents are a generally older group of progressives who worry that an influx of corporate techies is turning a city that nurtured the Beat Generation into a gilded resort for the rich.

Those groups oppose almost every new development except those reserved for subsidized affordable housing. But for many young professionals who are too rich to qualify for affordable housing, but not rich enough to afford $5,000-a-month rents, this is the problem.

Adding to the strangeness is that the typical San Francisco progressive and the typical mid-20s-to-early-30s member of Ms. Trauss’s group are likely to have identical positions on every liberal touchstone, like same-sex marriage and climate change, and yet they have become bitter enemies on one very big issue: housing.

The Times article also includes some nifty multimedia audio and a cameo from our D9 Supervisor David Campos, so check out the whole thing.