D9 Supervisor Candidates Square Off in Bernal Heights


The political hopefuls competing to become the next District 9 Supervisor convened last Thursday night, as the Bernal Heights Democratic Club (BHDC)  held a candidate endorsement forum at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

Our current D9 representative, Supervisor David Campos, is termed-out this year, and five candidates seek to replace him. They are:

  • Joshua Arce: 40, a pragmatic progressive with close ties to the labor, nonprofit housing, and environmental movements.
  • Iswari España: 42, a training officer with the San Francisco Human Services Agency.
  • Edwin Lindo: 29, A Bernal resident and Bernal Height Neighborhood Center board member who is also active with the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club.
  • Hillary Ronen: 40, A legislative aide to David Campos and his chosen successor, backed by the progressive establishment.
  • Melissa San Miguel 29, a former policy manager with the National Center for Youth Law and former MissionLocal reporter

Reporter Joshua Sabatini from the San Francisco Examiner attended the BHDC endorsement forum, and he proclaimed Ronen and Arce to be the front-runners. Here’s how he described Ronen’s pitch:

Ronen says she is part of a larger movement to preserve the progressive majority bloc on the Board of Supervisors, running for one of the three open seats this November with termed out progressive supervisors.

She has secured the sole endorsements of the traditional progressive candidate backers like Service Employees International Union 1021 — the government employee’s largest labor union — and the California Nurses Associations, Unite Here Local 2 and former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.

Ronen blames the Mission’s crisis on Mayor Ed Lee and his allies for “short-sighted thinking and shutting out community voices and only listening to corporate voices — and their horrible negotiations.”

For the past six years, Ronen has served as an aide to Campos. Before that she was an attorney with La Raza Centro Legal, a group which advocates for low-wage and immigrant workers.

Arce, for his part, presented himself as a coalition-builder:

[Arce] said he voted for a measure last November that would have imposed a moratorium on market-rate development in the Mission. The measure, Proposition I, was opposed by real estate interests and developers, and lost at the ballot.

Arce condemned Ronen as part of a failed status quo unresponsive to district needs. “It’s not progressive to talk about meeting the needs of our community, but not returning phone calls or emails,” he said.

“People look at the Mission as being at a crossroads,” Arce said. The path forward, he added, is “working with communities and not only that but bringing people together.”

Arce frequently used the pronoun “we” during the interview. He prides himself on a political style he describes as forging unconventional coalitions to achieve policy wins.

Assembly member David Chiu, Supervisor Scott Wiener and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are among those endorsing Arce.

By the end of the night on Thursday, the Bernal Heights Democratic Club overwhelmingly endorsed Hilary Ronen — an outcome that basically pre-ordained, given the close ties that exist between Supervisor Campos’s office and the BHDC.

The general election for the D9 Supervisor’s race will take place on Nov. 8, 2016

PHOTO: D9 Supervisor candidates at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, March 10, 2016. From left to right, Melissa San Miguel, Hillary Ronen, Edwin Lindo, Josh Arce, and Iswari España. Photo by Emma Chiang for the San Francisco Examiner

That Awkward Time Supervisor Campos Crashed a Community Crime Safety Meeting to Give a Campaign Speech


Opinion Disclosure Warning: The post that follows describes a recent unpleasant encounter with our District 9 Supervisor. It is strongly opinionated. If that’s a turn-off, I apologize, and I recommend you skip this post. Thanks for your understanding. — Todd Lappin


Now that the notes from last week’s Northeast Bernal Community Meeting have been posted, I also wanted to describe an incident that happened during the meeting, involving David Campos, our D9 Supervisor.

Supervisor Campos was not involved in the planning and organization of last Thursday’s community meeting. (More on that below.) Refreshingly, however, he showed up at the meeting along with his aide (and D9 Supervisor candidate), Hilary Ronen. That was a good thing, because the crime problem in northeast Bernal is such that residents there need all the official attention they can get. But halfway through the meeting, Supervisor Campos kind of went off the rails.

During a Q&A period, Campos raised his hand. The moderator called on him to speak, and Campos stood up. He started in with a pronouncement that there was “an elephant in the room.” He repeated this a few times. It left people scratching their heads, because until that moment the meeting had generally been constructive and elephant-free.

After a pause, Supervisor Campos pivoted to a speech about how the reason a representative from the Mayor’s office (Jason Elliott) was standing in the front of the room was because of his friendship with Joshua Arce (the 2016 D9 Supervisor candidate who had helped facilitate the meeting). Campos began building up a head of steam around the idea that the Mayor sent his deputy chief of staff to the meeting only because the mayor something something something something something and then…

Then I stood up, and told Supervisor Campos he was way out of line.

Actually, I said a bit more than that, and in a much more emphatic way. Basically I urged Supervisor Campos to discontinue the theatrics, in no small part because the very community meeting he was attending had been necessitated by the fact that Supervisor Campos’s office has done a poor job of responding to Bernal constituents concerns about crime problems in Bernal Heights.

Here’s some backstory: The Northeast Bernal Neighbors Alliance was formed in no small part because many Bernal neighbors in that section of our neighborhood have been unable to get a response from Supervisor Campos’s office about their crime problems. Many emails to his office have gone unanswered. Many many. I know this because when Campos’s office ignores emails about crime problems from Bernal neighbors, many of those neighbors write to me instead. I receive a lot of these emails. Many many.  Bottom line: Last week’s community meeting happened because  a neighborhood that had been neglected by David Campos’s office organized a new neighborhood group to get some help without having to rely on David Campos.

Hilary Ronen was sitting next to her boss as things got heated, and she looked stricken. I felt bad for her, because it was mortifying.

It was mortifying because Campos showed everyone in the room that he was looking at the meeting through the cheap lens of political gamesmanship, instead of listening to what Bernal residents were telling him about the crime problem in their community.

Fortunately, just before things got too hot, Buck Bagot intervened to redirect the conversation. (Note to History: Buck is a Bernal treasure.) Then the meeting resumed. There was no further speechifying from Supervisor Campos, although he did often try to politicize the issues discussed in the room by blaming others for this or that.

Look, it’s great that Campos’s office has finally decided to engage with his northeast Bernal constituents. But his effort to turn a grassroots community meeting into political spectacle was inappropriate. The most important take-away from last week’s meeting was that our Bernal neighbors need all the help they can get. It’ll take a lot of on-the-ground organization, and a lot of interagency coordination, and a lot of hard work to make northeast Bernal a safer community.

Last week, David Campos signaled that he’s more interested in scoring political points than he is in doing the real work required to be part of the solution. Yet hope springs eternal: There’s another community meeting about crime and public safety this Thursday, Jan. 28, 6 pm, at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, and David Campos helped organize this one. Bernalwood will provide full details about that meeting tomorrow.

GRAPHIC: Northeast Bernal  Crime Incident Map, May 2015 to January 2016, via SFOpenData. David Campos photo via Wikipedia.

The 2016 District 9 Supervisor’s Race Is Already Underway


Our most recent citywide election happened just a month ago, but the race is already on to replace District 9’s Supervisor, David Campos, who terms-out next year. Progressive columnist Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez looks at the line-up of candidates so far:

[Edwin] Lindo, vice president of political affairs for the local Latino Democratic Club, joins Hillary Ronen, who is Supervisor David Campos’ legislative aide, as the only publicly known candidates for Campos’ seat.

Ronen filed a candidate intention statement on Nov. 16.

Lindo said he filed Nov. 2, though the documents are not publically available online.

Ronen told the San Francisco Examiner she’s running because she has “a deep love of the district,” and, “the knowledge and experience of how to fight and move legislation.”

Now that there are two progressives in the race, however, the vote to beat back moderate opposition may be split. And though ranked choice voting may less that impact, a split may shuffle endorsements, allegiances, and overall campaign power – all which will be key for progressives to topple any moderate candidate who comes out of the woodwork.

Campos, a noted progressive, will term out in 2016. The District 9 seat he now occupies is one of three famously left-leaning supervisor seats up for election, as progressive supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar will also term out.

With Supervisor-elect Aaron Peskin now on the Board of Supervisors, the board majority favors left-leaning progressives, with a 6-5 split. The 2016 elections then would give center-right moderates the chance to take back the board.

The real District 9 opponent is still waiting in in the wings: Joshua Arce. An attorney who works with the Laborers International Union, Arce has long been rumored to be running for the seat with the support of The City’s political “moderates.” Though he has not officially announced candidacy, a “personal endorsement” from a local San Franciscan for Arce’s candidacy has surfaced online.

Why Mayor Lee’s Pre-Election Tour of Holly Courts Still Matters



A few days before the recent election, Mayor Lee toured Holly Courts, the public housing located just west of Holly Park. (Historical Fun Facts: Holly Courts was San Francisco’s very first public housing project, and it was designed by Arthur Brown Jr., the same architect who created City Hall and Coit Tower.)

At the time, the mayor came to Holly Courts to build support for Prop A, the $310 million affordable housing bond that ultimately passed by a comfortable margin. Yet now that Prop A was approved, Joshua Arce, a Mission-based civil rights attorney who works with the Holly Courts Resident Board, tells Bernalwood why the mayor’s pre-election visit matters even more:

Days before last week’s election, Mayor Ed Lee made a surprise visit to Bernal’s Holly Courts public housing community to help build support for an increased investment in affordable housing across all San Francisco neighborhoods.

Lee came to tour one of the City’s oldest, but most resilient, public housing sites alongside Holly Courts Resident Board President Deborah Gibson and me. (I serve as pro bono counsel for the Holly Courts Board.)

Gibson and Holly Courts residents Gail Love and Herman Travis used the opportunity to show the Mayor several housing units and outdoor gathering areas in need of repair, and to discuss concerns that other residents have shared with them. In return the Mayor expressed his desire to work more closely with residents of Holly Courts and other public housing communities as the City applies federal funding to make much needed repairs at properties formerly managed by the Housing Authority.

Mayor Lee grew up in public housing in Seattle and decided to make the stop as part of a final push to build support for the Prop. A Housing Bond led by public housing resident-volunteers from the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Mayor Lee thanked President Gibson at the end of the hour-long tour and asked the residents to stay in communication as his office works through the lists of Holly Courts concerns that were raised. With the bond approved by an overwhelming number of San Franciscans, the Mayor’s Office now has additional resources to help make good on these commitments, and the residents themselves are highly engaged in the process of holding the City accountable.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Larry Wong

Your Hyperlocal Analysis of 2015 Election Results from Bernal Heights


Hello Citizens!

As you know, we voted on Tuesday. Yay, democracy!

By now you’ve probably had the chance to digest some of the the overall results. Citywide, Mayor Ed Lee coasted to victory with 57% of the vote, but that was an underwhelming tally given that he had no major opposition. The progressive hot-button ballot measures, Prop F (the Short Term Rental Ordinance) and Prop I (the Mission District Housing Moratorium) were both soundly defeated.  Ross Mirkarimi, the scandal-tainted Sheriff, suffered a big (and appropriately humiliating) defeat. Prop A (the Affordable Housing Bond), Prop C (the Lobbyist Expenditure Ordinance), and Prop D (Mission Rock Development) were all approved by comfortable margins.

All politics is superhyperlocal, however, so what was the tally like for voters from Bernal Heights? And for different parts of Bernal Heights? Just as he did last year, Neighbor Adam has done us a great service by analyzing the election data from Bernal Heights to reveal how Bernal residents voted in 2015. Take it away, neighbor Adam:

Here’s a hyperlocal look at this week’s election, to follow up on the discussion that took place on Bernalwood last year about where Bernal voters fit in with the rest of the city and what, if any, differences there are between North and South Bernal.

This year, I analyzed Bernal’s vote using the election results data available at midday on November 3, 2015. This data may omit some subsequent vote counts that include late mail-in ballots, but the final results are unlikely to change significantly.

For 2015, I looked most closely three races: Mayor, Prop F (Short-Term Rentals), and Prop I (Mission Moratorium). These races probably reveal the greatest distinction in right-center-left or moderate-progressive voting patterns, and they serve as good follow-ups to last year’s Chiu/Campos race and Proposition B (waterfront development regulations).

Overall, the results clearly reflect Bernal’s left-leaning nature, with Mayor Lee failing to get a majority in either North or South Bernal, and Props F and I both receiving greater percentages of “yes” votes here than they did citywide.

Interestingly, however, the differences between North and South Bernal are more pronounced this year, with North Bernal skewing farther left than South Bernal. For example, while both Prop I and Prop F captured a majority in North Bernal (by modest margins), both were defeated in South Bernal (also by modest margins).

This is somewhat surprising. Last year’s results didn’t show as much of a difference between North and South Bernal, and based on what I think is a slightly more attractive real estate market in North Bernal, one might have expected North Bernal to head in a more centrist direction after another year of resident turnover. But in fact, the opposite happened. Perhaps the real estate market had no effect on voting patterns, (Editor’s Note: Most likely, since the total number of houses that turn over in a given year is small.) or perhaps folks moving in to North Bernal are more progressive than those moving into South Bernal. Or perhaps these numbers are all too small to draw conclusions. What is certain is that Bernal has retained its status as a very left-leaning part of the city.

The difference in the result between North and South Bernal prompted Todd to wonder how the Dep’t of Elections defines the two voting districts. As you can see in the Election Departmment map shown above, North Bernal includes the more left-leaning microhoods in west Bernal and around the summit of Bernal Hill, while South Bernal includes the more centrist St. Mary’s microhood, along with some of our ancestral kin from the Bernal Glen area on the other side of the Bernal Cut.

For the sake of completeness, I’ve also included the results of the Sheriff’s race and all the other propositions. In general, they all show the same slight lean to the left in North Bernal, but are otherwise not quite as illuminating as the big three races of Mayor, Prop F, and Prop I.

Voter Turnout:
North Bernal:  2909/8208 = 35.44% of registered voters
South Bernal:  2211/7148 = 30.93% of registered voters

NOTE: these numbers above don’t match up to the vote totals below; not sure why.  As such, percentages listed below are percentages of vote totals for each ballot item, not percentage of “turnout totals” above.

Citywide: LEE (57%)
North Bernal:   LEE: 1156 (37.4%)  OTHER: 1770 (57.3%)
South Bernal:  LEE: 1021 (43.1%)    OTHER: 1224 (51.7%)

Prop F – (Short Term Rental Ordinance)
Citywide: NO (55%)
North Bernal: YES – 1605 (50%)   NO – 1577 (49%)
South Bernal: YES 1115 (46%)   NO – 1288 (53%)

Prop I (Mission District Housing Moratorium)
Citywide: NO (57%)
North Bernal: YES – 1670 (52%)   NO – 1472 (46%)
South Bernal: YES – 1171 (48%)  NO- 1189 (49%)

Citywide: Hennessy (61%)
North Bernal: Hennessy – 1554 (50.3%); Robinson – 109 (3.5%); Mirkarimi – 1205 (39%)
South Bernal: Hennessy – 1258 (53%);  Robinson – 117 (4.9%); Mirkarimi – 1148 822 (35.7%)

And here are the rest of the 2015 ballot propositions:

Prop A (Affordable Housing Bond)
Citywide: YES (73.5%)
North Bernal: YES – 2512 (83%) NO – 481 (15.9%)
South Bernal: YES – 1784 (78.2%) NO – 464 (20.3%)

Prop B (Paid Parental Leave for City Workers)
Citywide: YES (66%)
North Bernal: YES – 2393 (79%) NO – 566 (18.7%)
South Bernal: YES – 1677 (73.5%) NO – 555 (24.3%)

Prop C (Lobbyist Expenditure Ordinance)
Citywide: YES (75%)
North Bernal: YES – 2178 (72%) NO – 715 (23.6%)
South Bernal: YES – 1614 (70.8%) NO – 556 (24.4%)

Prop D (Mission Rock Development)
Citywide: YES (73%)
North Bernal: YES – 2287 (75.6%) NO – 677 (22.4%)
South Bernal: YES – 1623 (71%); NO – 606 (26.6%)

Prop E (New Public Meeting Requirements)
Citywide: NO (67%)
North Bernal: YES – 782 (25.8%) NO – 2140 (70.7%)
South Bernal: YES – 635 (27.8%) NO – 1556 (68.2%)

Prop G (Renewable Energy Disclosures)
Citywide: NO (77%)
North Bernal: YES – 437 (14.4%) NO – 2424 (80.1%)
South Bernal: YES – 400 (17.5%) NO – 1729 (75.8%)

Prop H (Clean Energy Right to Know Act)
Citywide: YES (79.5%)
North Bernal: YES – 2477 (81.9%) NO – 359 (11.9%)
South Bernal: YES – 1793 (78.6%) NO – 325 (14.2%)

Prop J (Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund)
Citywide: YES (57%)
North Bernal: YES – 1892 (62.5%) NO – 1027 (33.9%)
South Bernal: YES – 1367 (59.9%) NO – 812 (35.6%)

Prop K (Housing Development on Surplus City Land)
Citywide: YES (73%)
North Bernal: YES – 2458 (81.2%) NO – 475 (15.7%)
South Bernal: YES – 1733 (76%) NO – 462 (20.3%)

Wow! That’s fantastic. Thank you, Neighbor Adam, for crunching the data.

One final (and fascinating) detail: Despite all the bluster and noise, Prop F and Prop I didn’t do so well in the Mission either. For comparison’s sake, in the Mission, Prop F garnered just 55% of the vote, while Prop I — The Mission Moratorium! — squeaked by with just 56%. That puts Prop I in Ed Lee territory, which is to say that with those levels of support on their own home turf, the NIMBYs of the Mission don’t enjoy much of a mandate either.

Citizens! It’s Election Day! Get Thee to a Polling Place!


Citizens of Bernalwood! Today is Election Day, 2015! Don’t forget to vote. If you’re a registered voter, here’s some last-minute guidance from the San Francisco Department of Elections:

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

The Department urges San Franciscans to confirm the locations of their polling places at sfelections.org/pollsite or by calling (415) 554-4375 before they go to vote.

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 their ballots off 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, November 6. Anyone uncertain about whether his or her mailed ballot would reach the Department in time to be counted is encouraged to instead bring the ballot to any San Francisco polling place, the City Hall Voting Center, or the Department’s Ballot Drop-Off Stations before 8 p.m.

Still on the fence about how to vote? The Bernalwood Slate Card looks at the 2015 ballot from a YIMBY/urbanist point-of-view, and it’s been getting a lot of traffic lately. Otherwise, our friends at Hoodline have put together a rather spiffy interactive reference guide to all the other election guides around town, so you can browse, compare, and contrast. Viva democracy!

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

Bernal Artist “Redesigns” Starbucks Ads in Powell BART Station




Neighbor “Ominous” is an artist who lives in Bernal Heights. Moments ago, Bernalwood received this email from him/her/it:

On any given evening, Powell Street BART Station will be lined end-to-end with homeless. The station is also completely wrapped in 360 degrees of advertisements. Brands attempting to capture the tech cash that is flying left and right.

The workers that stream through this same hall (of which I am one) innovate to solve problems for the wealthy. We pride ourselves on our white-hot innovation economy. But we are not solving the right problems. $15 Salad Delivery. Apps where someone else will park your car for you, pick up and do your laundry for you.

This hall embodies the denial of San Francisco. It’s always striking and unnerving to see the down and out sleeping inside the marketing campaign of the day.

Lately, Powell Street Station has been home to a the Starbucks ‘Skip the Queue” campaign — an app that lets you order ahead so you can skip the queue. A ‘problem’ deemed worth solving.

This morning, that campaign got a surprise make-over.


PHOTOS: via Ominous

The Bernalwood Slate Card for the November 3, 2015 Election

Citizens! Neighbors! There’s an election coming! On Tuesday, November 3, 2015. Soon!

This is a weird one, with no major federal or statewide candidates on the ballot and an incumbent mayor running for re-election largely unopposed.  (Yadda yadda protest candidates blah blah blah.) The mayoral race isn’t expected to be much of a contest, yet this is still a crucial moment for San Francisco.

On the one hand, these are the best of times. The economy is booming, unemployment in San Francisco hovers at around 3.5%, and the City’s finances are stable. But the pressures of prosperity have exacerbated old problems and contradictions. Tens thousands of new residents are arriving in San Francisco each year, Gold Rush-style. But we don’t have enough places for them to live, which is throwing lots of things out of whack, Gold Rush-style.

sfpopulation20 years ago, in 1995,  San Francisco’s population stood at 745,000, a high-water mark after decades of postwar decline and political realignment. Today, our population has climbed far higher, to more than 852,000 — a historic peak. Yet according to the Planning Department, during the last 20 years San Francisco built a net total of just 35,000 new units of housing for those 110,000 new residents . No one should be surprised our prosperity isn’t going smoothly.

Yet here we are: Five of the 11 propositions on this ballot are about housing, but a few of them were put on the ballot by the same factions that have done much to create our housing crisis in the first place. Ballot measures are generally a terrible way to handle planning policy, because the remedies are blunt and the propositions are often crafted by special interests. (That’s certainly true in this election.) So with “Let’s Not Make Things Worse” as our mantra, here are Bernalwood’s endorsements for San Francisco’s November 2015 election…

San Francisco Elected Offices
Bernalwood attended the meeting a few months ago when the San Francisco Democratic Party voted to endorse its preferred candidates. Hearing the back-and-forth of their debates gave us more confidence about where their endorsements landed. Bernal Heights doesn’t have much real skin in these races, so we will tepidly echo the San Francisco Democratic Party here:

Mayor: Ed Lee (Meh)
City Attorney: Dennis Herrera
District Attorney: George Gascon
Treasurer: Jose Cisneros
Sheriff: Vicki Hennessy
Community College Board: Alex Randolph
Supervisor, District 3: Julie Christensen (D3 isn’t our district, but Bernal’s Dissident Parrots have spoken)

Ballot Propositions
Since the mayor is basically running unopposed, the propositions are where this election gets interesting for the citizens of Bernal Heights. Let’s make some choices.

Prop A (Affordable Housing Bond) – YES, BUT
Placed on the ballot by Mayor Lee, Prop A would authorize the City to borrow $310 million by issuing general obligation bond to fund more affordable housing. That’s definitely something we should do. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves: Prop A won’t put much of a dent in our housing shortage. Two new affordable housing development projects demonstrate why. Unveiled last July, 1950 Mission Street is a 165-unit development that will be built near 16th Street. The City already owns the land at 1950 Mission, yet each unit there will cost about $600,000 to build.  Think that’s expensive? Actually, it’s cheap; Consider the other development, at 490 South Van Ness, just around the corner. At 490 South Van Ness, the City doesn’t own the land, which jacks up the cost to taxpayers even more. Each of the 72 affordable units at 490 South Van Ness will cost a breathtaking $889,000 to build. With those comparables, Prop A’s $310 million is great, but it won’t go very far. A two-thirds supermajority of voters is required for Prop A to pass. Let’s do it.

Prop B (Paid Parental Leave for City Workers) – YES
San Francisco offers City workers from 12 to 16 weeks of paid parental leave to care for a child after a birth or adoption. Owing to a quirk in the City Charter, if two City employees qualify to take paid parental leave for the same child, they both can’t take the full parental leave. Prop B would revise the Charter so thatif both parents are City employees, both cantake the maximum amount of paid parental leave. Makes sense.

Prop C – (Lobbyist Expenditure Ordinance) – YES
Prop C could make it easier to keep tabs on special interest groups that play politics with City Hall. Prop C would require any individual or organization that spends more than $2,500 on media, organizing, or research on issues under consideration by City government to register with the city’s ethics commission, submit monthly reports, and pay a $500 fee. (Nonprofit organizations would be exempted from the fee). Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and Prop C will help bring astroturf groups and professional “activists” out of the darkness and into the light. It also comes from a credible source: Prop C was placed on the Ballot by the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

Prop D – (Mission Rock Development) – YES
Prop D was placed on the ballot by the San Francisco Giants. It would allow the team to develop part of the parking lot on the south side of McCovey cove into ‘Mission Rock,’ a new 28-acre neighborhood with 1500 apartments, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, eight acres of parks, plazas and open space. At least 33 percent of the residential units will priced for low- and middle-income residents. Added bonus: The development plan also includes a new Anchor Brewery on Pier 48. Mission Rock includes two tall buildings (one 190′ and the other 240′) so under Prop B, passed in 2014, Mission Rock requires voter approval. Ballot box zoning is a terrible way to craft policy, but Mission Rock was designed with ample community input, and we need 1500 mixed-income housing units far more than we need the parking lot that sits there now. Build it.

Prop E – (New Public Meeting Requirements) – YES
It’s pretty easy to argue that our City government is already buried under a crippling amount of public input. Nothing happens here without hours of public meetings and comment, which is both wonderful and disastrous at the same time. Yet our current system effectively excludes people who have regular jobs and/or residents with children. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a Prop E backer) explains: “Public comment is a crucial element in local democracies, since it is one of the chief ways for residents to air their grievances, propose their ideas, and give feedback to their elected leaders. But too often these public comment periods do not represent a wide variety of perspectives, since they’re biased in favor of a specific demographic: people who have the ability to travel to city hall to attend often inconveniently scheduled meetings.” Prop E would address this by requiring the City to simulcast public meetings live on the Internet, and allow members of the public submit testimony at public meetings electronically. If we don’t want to actually streamline our government, and an active, participatory democracy is what San Francisco wants, then simple fairness dictates we should enable as many citizens as possible to participate.

Prop F – (Short Term Rental Ordinance) – NO
San Francisco faces a big housing shortage, so we need good legislation to ensure that Airbnb-style short-term rentals don’t remove too many viable housing units from our rental inventory. Trouble is, Prop F isn’t good legislation. In addition to creating plenty of new bureaucracy and paperwork — inevitable, perhaps — it caps short-term rentals at a property to 75 nights a year and contains a blanket prohibition on the use of “in-law” units for short-term rentals. Most alarming of all, Prop F encourages neighbors to take each other to court, by authorizing anyone living within 100 feet of a potential short-term rental to sue homeowners suspected of violating the initiative. Meanwhile, Prop F would eliminate short-term rentals that make it possible for many struggling San Franciscans to stay in their homes. This is not theoretical; Bernal neighbors and artists Toby Klayman and Joe Branchcomb tell Bernalwood:

“We’ve been in our house for 40 years, and our bills now are enormously high! Our PG&E bill is often $400 a month. Last year we needed a new section of roof: $16,000. Another recent expense was a new sewer pipe: $4000. We live in a home that is more than 100 years old. There’s always extra money needed for repairs, a new window, a new set of stairs etc. We rent one extra room we have in our home via Airbnb — a space that would never work as a permanently rented room — to provide some much-needed income. As we approach age 81, we would have to move without Airbnb. The laws San Francisco already has in place have enough teeth to get rid of property owners who improperly evict tenants to create short-term rentals. But 75 nights a year won’t help us enough to pay our bills. We are against Prop F.”

Prop G – (Renewable Energy Disclosures) – NO
The process through which proposed initiatives end up on the ballot is due for reform. To get on the ballot, you just need to collect a few thousand signatures. To get a few thousand signatures, you just need to pay enough people to collect them. (This is why those paid signature gatherers are such a fixture on the sidewalk outside the Good Life on Cortland.) The result is that anyone can pretty much turn a ham sandwich into a San Francisco ballot proposition — so long as they’re willing to pay enough to get the required signatures. That’s how Props I and F ended up on this ballot, but Prop G shows how broken the proposition system really is. The funding to put Prop G on the ballot came from PG&E and IBEW 1245, a union that represents some PG&E employees. There’s a lot of legalese goofiness involved, but Prop G would basically make it harder for the City of San Francisco to compete with PG&E by selling electricity generated from the City’s own renewable sources. Except, the City and PG&E eventually agreed on other ways to resolve these issues, so now not even PG&E wants Prop G on the ballot. Too late. No on G, and thanks for wasting our time.

Prop H (Clean Energy Right to Know Act) – YES
The obvious awfulness of Prop G prompted Supervisors John Avalos, London Breed, Julie Christensen, and Scott Wiener to put Prop H on the ballot to counteract it. Prop H defines “clean energy” and “renewable greenhouse gas-free energy” in ways that are similar to California’s state standards, and makes it easier for the City’s forthcoming electricity-sale program to market clean electricity. If both Prop G and Prop H are approved, the one that receives the most “yes” votes will be enacted, but as this awkwardness demonstrates, the City’s proposition process will remain as broken as ever.

Prop I (Mission District Housing Moratorium) – NO, NO, NO
Prop I would halt all market rate housing development in the Mission District for 18 months. Here’s what it will not do: Prop I will not make housing in the Mission more affordable. Prop I  will not slow the pace of displacement or evictions. It will not reduce gentrification. It will not lower rents or create more affordable housing. If anything, Prop I is likely to increase rents and make gentrification and affordability in the Mission even worse. Those are just a few of the conclusions reached by the City’s chief economist, Ted Egan, in an analysis of Prop I which also found that relatively little housing of any kind has been built in the Mission in the last 15 years anyway. Egan says there’s “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.” Ouch. This may explain why Prop I’s supporters are eager to change the subject. They now say Prop I is about holding new market-rate housing hostage for at least 18 months to force the City to create a more aggressive affordable housing plan in the Mission. The only real question here is: Are they delusional, dishonest, or both?  San Francisco can’t agree on a plan to install a new bike lane in just 18 months — never mind reaching consensus to build thousands of units of publicly funded affordable housing in the Mission at a cost of at least $600 million, according to David Campos. And in the meantime, 1200 units of privately funded, mixed-income housing already in the planning pipeline would be put on hold. It makes no sense to address a housing shortage by banning the construction of new housing. Prop I will make the crisis worse, while empowering the NIMBYs and nativists who seek to preserve Burger Kings, laundromats, and abandoned warehouses instead of building housing for San Franciscans. Vote NO on Prop I.

Prop J – (Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund) – NO
As regular readers know, Bernalwood loves our local merchants. We love our history. We love our merchants with history. Yet even as certified history geeks and militant locavores, we just can’t get behind Prop J. The goal here is to provide public subsidies to “legacy” San Francisco businesses or nonprofits at risk of displacement that have existed for at least 20 years, and which have “significantly contributed to the history or identity of a neighborhood or community.” It’s sweet idea, but Prop J would likely be an expensive boondoggle rife with cronyism and abuse. To be eligible for public subsidies, a legacy business would require a nomination from a member of the Board of Supervisors or the Mayor, which creates an obvious opportunity for elected officials to reward generous donors and political pals with a subsidy from taxpayers. Want a preview of what that looks like? Try this: D9 Supervisor David Campos spearheaded the effort to put Prop J on the ballot, with active guidance from Calle 24, the Mission’s 24th Street merchants association, where 21 merchants (!!!) would be eligible for Prop J subsidies. In addition to being ripe for corruption, Prop J would also be very expensive; if it passes, the City Controller estimates Prop J’s subsidies would cost taxpayers $4 million next year, rising to somewhere between$51 million and $94 million annually within 25 years. No on J.

Prop K – (Housing Development on Surplus City Land) – YES
Introduced by D6 Supervisor Jane Kim, this is a reasonable plan to make it somewhat easier to transfer excess or underused City-owned land to nonprofit affordable housing developers, who would receive the land for free. For-profit developers could also acquire surplus City land, but they’d have to pay for it. Prop J also expands the range of incomes that qualify for inclusion in affordable housing on surplus city land so it would span very low income to households that make up to 120% of the area median income. Developments with more than 200 units on former City land could be mixed-income, with some units having no income limit. This all sounds sensible enough, although it also seems like the kind of stuff the Board of Supervisors should be able to tackle on their own, without the use of a clumsy ballot proposition. Because that’s what we pay our Supervisors to do.

Bernalwood’s November 2015 Slate Card

Mayor: Ed Lee
City Attorney: Dennis Herrera
District Attorney: George Gascon
Treasurer: Jose Cisneros
Sheriff: Vicki Hennessy
Community College Board: Alex Randolph
Supervisor, District 3: Julie Christensen

Prop A: YES, BUT…
Prop B: YES
Prop C: YES
Prop D: YES
Prop E: YES
Prop F: NO!
Prop G: NO
Prop H: YES
Prop I: NO, NO, NO
Prop J: NO
Prop K: YES


COMMENT MODERATION UPDATE: Per usual, Bernalwood welcomes robust discussion about the issues that impact our neighborhood and our City. Comments about the Bernalwood Slate Card and any of the issues or candidates on the November ballot are encouraged. However, comments containing links to other slate cards will be removed. Let’s debate the issues here, instead of waging tribal battles over competing lists.

Dissident Parrots Find Sanctuary in Bernal Community Garden


Neighbor Craig reports that a flock of wild parrots has been spotted in eastern Bernal’s Dogpatch-Miller Community Garden.

That makes sense, because it’s an election year, and Aaron Peskin is on the ballot.


As you must certainly recall, in 2012 ornithologists from the Bernalwood Political Research Unit determined that the wild parrots in Bernal Heights “are refugees from Telegraph Hill who fled to Bernal Heights to escape the stultifying NIMBYism and shrill politics of that part of the City in general — and Aaron Peskin in particular.”

At the moment, Aaron Peskin is campaigning to once again represent District 3 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. So the move by these free-spirited parrots to seek sanctuary several miles from Telegraph Hill should come as no surprise.

Please welcome the dissident parrots with the warmth and neighborly generosity for which Bernal Heights is world-famous.

PHOTOS: Craig Saitowitz

Bernal Heights Celebrates Landmark Supreme Court Victory

Marriage Equality0016

Neighbor Valerie just shared these photos; they’re a perfect way to celebrate today’s landmark Supreme Court decision that establishes nationwide legal status for same-sex marriage.

“Love always wins,” Neighbor Valerie says, and that right there is some pitch-perfect punditry for this most glorious Pride Week.

Congratulations, San Francisco! This took a long time, and lots of people worked very hard for it, but all that makes victory even more sweet.

Marriage Equality0001

PHOTOS: Neighbor Valerie

Bernal Neighbor Describes Intense Encounter Outside Planned Parenthood



Neighbor Mary visited the Planned Parenthood clinic on Valencia last week, and the scene outside was very unpleasant. She tells Bernalwood:

I have been lucky to not encounter anti-abortion protesters since my college days in Boston. I never saw anything like what I saw today.

Planned Parenthood Valencia has served me, a native of Bernal SF, for years. I have Uterine Fibroids and have been taking oral contraceptives since I was nineteen.

I work in SOMA. Swing shift, so I missed refilling my prescription. Planned Parenthood’s online patient portal came to the rescue. On Thursday, I decided to head to work earlier and hit up the clinic to grab my three-month supply and jet to work. Outside Planned Parenthood I encountered the most hideous, aggressive, protester.

She was cloaked in a fake lab coat and wheelchair. As she approached, she seemed mentally-ill. I’m compassionate, because I have a mother with mental illness and I’ve worked with the disabled population. She immediately asked if I was there for an abortion. I politely told her my reasons for being at Planned Parenthood were none of her business.

She then continued to share a laundry list of ridiculous inaccuracies about Planned Parenthood and it’s services. I was floored by her lack of boundaries.

She may be anti-abortion, but I’m anti-aggression, and she’s just lucky I don’t enjoy engaging with law enforcement. She was ripe for concrete-to-middle-of-the-street counseling. I should be able to pick up my anti-baby pills in peace!

The incident left me nervous and freaked out. The staff at Planned Parenthood were so sweet, and they got me out of there ASAP. I was afraid to leave — so were many of us that morning. Would love to hear more about what can be done about the harassment. I would never be allowed to harass people like that outside of a church or even a bar!

As previously reported, protest activity outside the Valencia Planned Parenthood took a darker turn last year, after the US Supreme Court invalidated a Massachusetts law that created “buffer zones” around clinics that provide abortion services, on First Amendment grounds.

GRAPHIC IMAGE WARNING: The un-hidden version of the photo at the top of this post is displayed here:


PHOTOS: Neighbor Mary

David Campos Introduces Proposal to Make Mission Housing Even More Expensive, Homeowners and Landlords Even More Wealthy


As you probably know, Bernal neighbor David Campos represents District 9 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Yesterday, he introduced a proposed ordinance that would deliver a windfall to Mission District homeowners and provide new incentives for Mission District landlords to evict existing tenants.

Supervisor Campos calls his proposal a “Temporary Moratorium on Market Rate Development,” and he says it is intended to halt displacement and maintain diversity in the Mission. In reality, it will almost certainly do the opposite. The San Francisco Business Times broke the story about the Campos proposal:

Voters will be asked in November whether to halt market-rate housing construction in the Mission District if neighborhood activists have their way, the Business Times has learned.

Edwin Lindo of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club said Monday that a coalition of affordable housing and progressive groups soon will submit a potential ballot measure to the city attorney that would delay market-rate housing projects in the Mission for up to 18 months.

They would then attempt to collect the roughly 9,400 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

A draft of the ballot measure, obtained through a public records request by a neighborhood activist, showed that the moratorium would apply to projects larger than 20 units. The moratorium would apply to the entire neighborhood, not just the 24th Street area on the south side of the neighborhood considered a Latino cultural district, as had been previously floated by Supervisor David Campos.

“Our goal is not to stop all development. Our goal is to stop incredibly large development that focus exclusively on market-rate housing,” Lindo said. “We need a pause to ensure that if developers are going to build in our city they’re going to figure out a way to build affordable housing, even if that could be cutting into their 15 to 20 percent profit margins.”

Many economists, urban policy groups like SPUR, and policymakers like Mayor Ed Lee and Scott Wiener have all said this kind of strategy will exacerbate the neighborhood’s problems. With a shriveling pool public dollars available to build affordable housing, the city has looked toward more market-rate development to pay for housing for low-income residents through inclusionary laws and fees.

The SF Chronicle adds the measure “would implement a 45-day moratorium on planning approvals, demolitions and building permits for multifamily residential developments in a 1½-square-mile area. It could be extended for up to two years under state law.”


You don’t have to be an economist, or an urban policy wonk, or or a government policymaker to envision why this proposal from Supervisor Campos and progressive allies will put lots and lots of money in the pockets of existing Mission District property-owners. All you have to do is take a moment to consider this graph:


The housing gap graph (which comes from this video) shows that San Francisco’s population has been growing steadily for several decades, but our supply of housing has failed to keep pace. The housing deficit has grown more extreme with each passing year, which has made housing more expensive for San Franciscans at all income levels, across the board. This effect is called supply and demand, and supply and demand is sort of like the law of gravity, in that even if you don’t much like it, you still can’t realistically hope escape it.

The local economy is booming and San Francisco’s population is growing rapidly, so the only real way to make housing more affordable for everyone is to increase the overall supply. That’s a slow and imperfect process, to be sure, but if your goal is to reduce displacement, stabilize prices, and create opportunities for all San Franciscans across the board, there’s really no viable alternative. Building more affordable housing is something we absolutely must do, but increasing the overall housing supply and increasing the amount of affordable housing is not an either/or proposition. Indeed, by law market-rate housing development actually provides substantial funding for the creation of more affordable housing.

Supervisor Campos’s moratorium offer no proposals to provide additional funding for affordable housing, nor does it propose a way to offset the affordable housing funds that will be lost by blocking the construction of market rate housing. And he has had nothing to say about accelerating construction of affordable housing projects that are already on the table, like the proposed building at Cesar Chavez and Shotwell that your Bernalwood editor is eager to look out upon.

Supervisor Campos and his NIMBY allies say the goal is to reduce evictions and displacement, but that doesn’t hold much water either. Their opposition to new housing development has been fierce — even when absolutely no one would be displaced by the construction, and even when projects contain a substantial number of affordable housing units. In March, for example, activists shouted down a proposal to build 291 units of market-rate housing with an additional 41 units reserved for middle-class buyers on the squalid site next to the 16th Street BART station that is today occupied by a chain drug store and a Burger King. Last month, many of the same activists disrupted a proposal to build 115 units of market-rate housing on the site of a semi-abandoned warehouse at 2675 Folsom near 23rd Street.

There is one surefire way to make housing in The Mission even more expensive: In a transit-rich location with two BART stations, several arterial MUNI lines, and excellent freeway access, where demand for housing already vastly exceeds supply, blocking the creation of new housing will only make existing housing even more precious. And that is what Supervisor Campos proposes to do.

So if the moratorium makes no logical sense and is unlikely to do much to address the housing affordability crisis, what purpose does it hope to serve? On the 48 Hills site, Bernal neighbor Tim Redmond described the scene yesterday as Campos announced his plan:

The existing zoning, under the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, “has failed the Mission,” [Campos] said, pointing out that 8,000 Latino residents have been lost in the past decade. The population of the Mission was 52 percent Latino a decade ago; now it’s down to 40 percent.

That tribal logic may be the most candid explanation Campos has yet provided. The proposed moratorium mirrors Calle24’s effort to create a legally-protected Latino enclave along 24th Street, but it seeks to extend privileged incumbent status to an area that includes almost all of the Mission District. Progressive power brokers may have a weak understanding of housing economics, but they sure know how to rewrite the rules to protect their turf.

It may be true that San Francisco can’t really build its way out of the current housing crisis. But it’s definitely true that we can’t not-build our way out of it either. As San Francisco adds thousands of new residents each year, every delay and every postponed project means housing gets even more expensive as competition intensifies for whatever housing already exists.

That’s a miserable state of affairs longtime renters, new residents, and would-be home-buyers alike. But if you already own property in the Mission (or North Bernal, for that matter), the moratorium proposed by David Campos and progressive activists will have you laughing all the way to the bank.

PHOTO: David Campos, via 48 Hills

After 30+ Years, Departing Bernal Neighbor Breaks Up with San Francisco

Warm Sun After the Rains

Neighbor David lives on Coleridge, but he won’t be there much longer. He’s has lived in San Francisco since the 1970s, yet soon Neighbor David moving to Japan. It will be a big change, he says, but after all these many years it also feels like it’s time. To explain why, Neighbor David recently wrote a “break-up letter to San Francisco,” and we invited him to share it here with Bernalwood:

Dear San Francisco,

I am so breaking up with you.

When I first met you it was love at first sight. I have been with you longer than anyone I’ve ever known. You loved live music, funky art, and sideways culture. You loved to have drinks late at night. You loved late night gallery openings and performance art. You loved to play music. Funky ass music. You used to be a blues lady that was bluer than the sky right before dawn after a foggy night. “Only in San Francisco’ used to mean a black Jewish leather transvestite doing the funky chicken to Sylvester, with a straight guy wearing a jock strap at the Stud on a Friday night.

We would go out for cheap eats at Sparky’s or the Grubsteak after the bars closed. We would walk home because you couldn’t find your late night transfer and the bus would take forever anyway. We could go places. We could hang out. The Fab Mab, Nightbreak, I beam, All night dancing at the Trocadero or the deaf club (181 Club), Oasis, The farm, Wolfgangs, The Stone, Chi Chi, Nickie’s BBQ, Kennel Club, Covered wagon, Blue Lamp, Paradise. Most of them put to sleep.

We both know where you are now. As the drought tightens its grip, the water (coughcough housing) shortage serves as a metaphor for the grassroots cultural and artistic drought. Authorities give it a year before there is no more water. I am afraid that the artistic scene is pretty much parched. Unless of course you have 65 million dollars for a “members only” jazz venue. “Only in San Francisco” now means valet parking for potential buyers of the house next door. Clubs closed because it was noisy at night. Business after business closed down by jacked up rents and greed. A down payment was made for cultural indifference and it’s about paid off. Diversity diversified and moved to the east bay . Or further east. People of color are being squeezed out. Imagine the Bayview and 3rd Street as a boutique destination. Soon the bay area will be called LANO. LA of the north. The cultural landscape has changed so that there really is no place here for the likes of me. I’m not sure if I ever fit in here but for a while that was the beauty of it.. I can’t watch the SF version of the zombie techster apocalypse any longer. It’s too painful. (There is no hip in hipster)

By the way, I got a call from an old friend the other day. Her name is Japan. She said she may still have a thing for me and asked me to move in. So I am going. I will miss Bernal Heights something fierce and the friends I have made here over the years. Alas, It is time. Don’t wait up for me. I’ll leave the key under the mat. See you around.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics