Painted Rock on Bernal Hill Joins the Resistance

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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

Chloe’s Closet Adds New Playroom, Art Classes, Spanish Storytime

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As you may recall, the fabulous Chloe’s Closet kids clothing consignment store at 451 Cortland has been struggling of late. Now, after a bit of downsizing, the store has transformed some of its former office space into a play zone and classroom.

In a recent email to customers, Chloe’s Closet said:

UPDATE for Chloe’s Bernal Heights
As we mentioned in our previous email, we have downsized our Bernal Heights location in order to enable us to save on overhead. We have turned our “Toy” side into our consignment intake and pricing station. This has allowed us to reduce our payroll and has been very helpful toward efforts to keep our Cortland Avenue location above water. Unfortunately sales have continued to soften at both our San Francisco locations and it looks like 2017 may continue the trend of declining sales for a 4th consecutive year. Our Irving Street location is off to a rough start and has already had a very steep drop in sales for January compared to previous years, putting us in an even more difficult position. We just can’t seem to catch a break. The next few months should give us an idea of whether we can afford to continue with two locations in San Francisco. In the meantime, we are putting forth a strong last-ditch effort and if we do have to go, we will go out swinging.

Introducing Chloe’s Playroom!
The downsize of our Bernal Heights Toy side freed up our old pricing office which was promptly turned into an adorable playroom by several of our enterprising employees. (Shout out to Emily, Keyko and Alex for the amazing handpainted mural and wall art!) Chloe’s Playroom includes a train table, baby play / hang out corner, brand new play kitchen, and dollhouse. Also included are a dress up section, and a “Montessori” play area with bins of rotating activities (not pictured above.)

Shop & Play
As a thank you for shopping with us, customers are welcome to take advantage of the Playroom. In exchange we simply ask that customers please support the business that day by making a purchase of at least $5 per child. We also ask that customers sign off on our Playroom safety rules on their first visit.

Rent Our Room
We are also making Chloe’s Playroom available to rent. If you need a cozy space for your Parent’s group, or to hold child/parenting related classes or meetings, please just let us know!

Join Us in the Playroom for Art & Spanish Activities!
Starting THIS WEEK we will have several drop-in Art classes as well as a weekly Spanish Story & Music time.

PHOTO: The new Chloe’s Closet playroom, via Chloe’s Closet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The neighbors have now appealed the CatEx.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHOTOS: Rendering of proposed homes via Fabian Lannoye

Wednesday: Celebrate Bernal Neighbor Kelsey Crowe’s New Book

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Neighbor Kelsey Crowe from Anderson Street has a new book out today, and it’s very timely.  Neighbor Mike, her husband, invites all Bernalese to the  book party tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Books Inc.:

My wife and Bernal resident Kelsey Crowe’s event next week for her new book There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love.

Here’s the book summary:

Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all- been-there style, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. Crowe and McDowell have created an essential illustrated guide to active compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.

Kelsey will be at Books Inc Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness Ave.) on Wednesday evening, Jan 18 for a reading and Q&A — it should be a really nice event and all are very welcome!!

PHOTO: Courtesy of Neighbor Mike

Today: Wild Old Women of Bernal to Protest at Mission Street BofA

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Today at noon, the iconic Wild Old Women of Bernal Heights will stage an anniversary protest at the Bank of America branch at 3250 Mission Street to put an end to Big Bank malfeasance.

Neighbor Lynn, one of the Wild Old Women, says:

The Wild Old Women of Bernal will be celebrating our 5-year anniversary of weekly demonstrations to protest foreclosures, evictions, and other disdainful corporate-bank acts. The demonstration and celebration will be in front of the Bank of America on Mission near 29th St. on Thursday, Dec. 29th from noon until 1 pm. We’re inviting one and all to join us.

PHOTO: Courtesy of the Wild Old Women of Bernal Heights

Cortland Floral Designer Creates Ephemeral “Petals for Peace” on Bernal Hill

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Natasha Lisitsa is a floral designer who operates Waterlily Pond, a floral design studio on the hard-working end of Cortland Avenue (near Bradford). Bernalwood has told you about Natasha before; she’s offered pop-up Valentine’s bouquets at Pinhole Coffee and had work featured at the fabulous deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Yesterday, one week after the national election that changed everything, Natasha Lisitsa and her husband Daniel Schultz created an ephemeral installation on the north face of Bernal Hill that beautifully represents a hopeful spirit during an anxious age.

Waterlily Pond tells Bernalwood:

Internationally recognized floral artists Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz, owners of Bernal Heights, San Francisco-based Waterlily Pond Floral Artistry, have created Petals for Peace, a gesture of beauty and peace for uncertain times focused on fear, anger, and division.

The pink and white petals of 10,000 roses have been recycled from a weekend wedding and arranged into a 40′ diameter peace-sign facing the city of San Francisco from atop the steep, verdant slopes of Bernal Hill.

Neighbor Maria went for a run and she saw us working on the hill and helped us. We are very grateful.

Beautiful! Special thanks go out to the recent rains, which brought the water, which turned Bernal Hill green again, so the color of the roses really pops.

Check it out while you still can; rose petals dry out and decompose quickly, so the installation will soon be gone without a trace.

Here are some more photos shared by Bernal neighbors:

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UPDATE, 10:35 am: It’s sunnier today, and I had a chance to head up to the hill to check out the installation. It’s amazing! Here are some flower-fresh images from a few minutes ago:

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PHOTOS: Top, aerial photos courtesy of Waterlily Pond. Petals close-up by Michael Ashe. View from below by Estelle Fraise.