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

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


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:
    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


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



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



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:



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:



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

Boo! You’re Invited to Dr. Rick’s Fabulous “Rebel Yell” Halloween Party on Saturday


Fear not, Bernal Heights goblins. Dr. Rick’s annual Halloween party at the Farmhouse Mansion is happening again this year, on Saturday, October 29 at the fabulous Farmhouse Mansion in Bernal Heights. Dr. Rick shares all the details:

Hi Everybody,

it’s that time of year again. And I cast my vote for… Scary!

This year’s “Rebel Hell” Halloween is patriotic-themed explosion of talent and delights.

Six bands, fire dancers, lasers, bag-pipes, tarot card reader, film festival, poetry slam, catered delicacies, full host bar, and much more. See attached for more info.

This is a benefit is for three organizations: ZSFG Hospital Vol Rehab Programs, AgeSong/Pacific Institute for elderly and disabled, and SFSMILES.

PLEASE bring a bag of adult clothes for donation.

The hospital especially needs… everything. Our clothing supply is very low.

Sat. Oct. 29th
6pm till ?
at the Farmhouse Mansion, Gardens, and Unofficial Polling Place
3340 Folsom Street, SF CA

$20 per person minimum donation, or half-price if you bring a bag of adult clothes.

See all you patriots at the rebellion soon,

Dr. Rick


A Brief History of Bernal Heights Rogues, Hoodlums, and Characters of Ill Repute

Bernal Hill, circa 1924. View looking south, roughly from above Precita Avenue,, Folsom Street at left; Coso to the right. The ad on the hilltop is for Maxwell Automobiles. Courtesy of

Bernal Hill, circa 1924. View looking south, roughly from above Precita Avenue. Folsom Street at left; Coso Triangle to the right. The ad on the hilltop is for Maxwell Automobiles.

There’s a terrific new story posted by SFGate that provides lots of colorful detail about Bernal’s shady past:

Sometimes the digital archives tell a story, uncovering long forgotten history. My dig in the Bernal Heights archives even revealed the moment in 1873 where the courts determined that Holly Park was public ground. Stories of gang activity in the neighborhood were found over and over in the early days. Reporting soon painted a picture of abject violence that seemed to rule the hill in the 1870’s.  […]

Bernal Heights was originally part of the Rancho de las Salinas y Potrero Nuevo, and owes its name to Jose Cornelio de Bernal, to whom the land was granted in 1839 by the Mexican government. In the 1860s the rancho was subdivided into small lots, and was first populated primarily by Irish immigrants who farmed the land and ran dairy ranches. According to legend, a mini gold rush was triggered in 1876 when con artists planted the hilltop with traces of gold. We found evidence of people claiming the “Eureka Lode” in reporting from the 1870s.

The article also includes some tasty archival tales of Bernalese rogues from centuries past. Here’s just one example:

December 3, 1877 Lawlessness of the Bernal Heights Gang
On Friday Dan Murphy and Charles Manchester, members of the Bernal Heights gang of hoodlums, were held to answer to a charge of assault to rob, and the former was also sentenced by the Police Judge to one year’s imprisonment for simple assault. These men, with five others, a few nights ago went to the house of Patrick Haight and his wife and with terrific blows upon the door awakened Haight and his wife. They demanded admittance upon the ground that they were policemen, and wished to search the house. Upon obtaining admittance the seven men, partially masked by handkerchiefs tied around the lower part of their faces, attacked Haight and his wife and demanded money. They ransacked the house from top to bottom and beat the inmates unmercifully. Mrs. Haight was knocked down and beaten about the face while kneeling in her night clothes upon the floor. But an accidental raising of the handkerchiefs, with the recognition of the voices of two of the robbers enabled Haight to identify Manchester and Murphy and bring them to justice. The six ruffians did not succeed in finding any money, and went off empty-handed after their attack. On Friday, after the two criminals had been held to answer, Herbert Manchester, a brother of Charles, and a member of the Bernal Heights gang, with four others, went to the house of Haight and entered the yard. Haight’s cow was lying there, and the brutal ruffians at once seized her and cut her throat. The arteries were not reached, but the trachea was severed so that the air enters the lungs in great measure, through the cut. This Bernal Heights gang is now under the captaincy of Tom Farron, and it has an open field for operations, there being no policemen beyond Twenty-sixth Street. The lawless characters have for some time kept up a reign of terror in that locality, and have so impressed the people with their ability and willingness to do any act, that they are afraid to testify against criminals when caught or to make complaints. The members of the gang are said to make frequent raids upon the houses, disguising their features by a liberal supply of soot or blacking. Saturday morning Herbert Manchester and John Smith were before the Court on charges of petty larceny. Thomas Brown, who lives at Bernal Heights, discovered these two young men walking along a fence at 6 o’clock in the morning, carrying a bag that contained geese. Seeing that the fellows had no gun Brown gave chase and captured them. In the bag they found four geese. They were found guilty as charged, and will receive sentence today.

By all means, read the whole thing… and enjoy all the terrific old photos.

PHOTO: Top, 1924 aerial view, courtesy of

Stroller Lady Is Actually a Bernal Heights Package Thief


A neighbor on Bennington Street captured footage of a woman using a stroller to cart off pilfered delivery packages. The neighbor writes:

Saturday morning a woman wearing a pink hat and pushing a stroller stole a package from my front door at 7:22 am. From the video cameras it appeared as though she was strolling down Bennington Street scoping out the houses to see what she could steal.

Subsequent photos show Stroller Lady exploring the front stoop:


… and grabbing the box:


Bernal neighbors should be on the lookout for Stroller Lady, and please contact SFPD Ingleside at (415) 404-4000 if you see her in action.

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


Neighbors Establish Recovery Fund for Bernal Family Displaced by Prospect Fire


We’ll start with the good news: Everyone is okay.

But beyond that, the two-alarm fire that damaged the house at 158 Prospect last Friday morning has turned the life of Bernal’s Grant-Weisler family upside down, because their home is no longer habitable and much of their stuff is destroyed. At the time of the fire, the house was occupied by a family of two parents and three kids, their au pair, and two visiting houseguests.

But that brings us to another silver lining: This is Bernal Heights, and neighbors here help one another during times of need. A crowdfunding effort has gotten underway to help the Grant-Weisler family begin to rebuild, and all Bernalese are invited to contribute.

We’ll have more detail on the crowdfunding effort in a moment. But first, here’s a note from Neighbor Sam, the mom of the house at 158 Prospect:

Tonight I am grateful. So grateful. And I feel lucky. So lucky.

That’s not what I would expect to be feeling after standing on the sidewalk and watching my home of the past 15 years, the home where all 3 of my kids were born, the home where JJ Wiesler and I have built our whole adult life together, go up in flames.

But it’s amazing how quickly your priorities come clear when you are forced to choose, in a second, what is most important to you. People, memories, photos, videos, musical instruments, the kitchen table around which so much of my life has unfolded, my dads lap desk and typewriter, cameras, journals…

Everyone is OK. The girls are pretty shaken up, but they’re going to be fine. And the baby is just going with the flow. To him, it’s just another day of new experiences.

The only person who was injured was one of the 66 amazing firefighters from the San Francisco Fire Department who risked their lives today to save our home. I am so moved, overwhelmed with gratitude, by the moments of kindness that we experienced in this insane day from hell. The female firefighters, who are also moms, who took the time to rescue the kids lovies. The other firefighter who returned our emergency cash stash that was about to disappear into the flames. The other firefighters who went back into an active fire to recover all our family photos and videos. The neighbors who boxed up and stored our salvaged belongings without even being asked. The other neighbors who quietly pressed their keys into our hands, offering beds, pillows, towels, food, and even a friends apartment where we are staying right now. I’m so moved.

The “Grant-Wiesler Onward & Upward Fund” was launched by Bernal Neighbors Aaron and Bronwyn Ximm. They write:

Thankfully, and most importantly, everyone is fine.

Their warm and welcoming home however is unlivable, and most of the family’s posessions were lost.

The Grant-Wielsers are bracing for for a very long climb to restore, remake, and rebuild.

As friends and family, many of us immediately wonder how we can help in this time of need.

One certain thing is that during the next few months especially, the family’s cash flow is going to be both complicated and unpredictable.

There will be hundreds of compounding expenses small and large to re-acquire the tools of modern life.

One way we can help is to build the Grant-Wielsers a ‘slush fund’ for those occasions.

There will be many ways to help West, the girls, and Sam and JJ!

But if you can make a donation–and of course, of any size at all!–it will make a real difference, one that will be received with profound gratitude.

About the campaign organizers: we are Aaron, Bronwyn, Ember, and Juniper Ximm. We are a family of close neighbors and friends of the Grant-Wieslers.

Our families shared the same world-class nanny over many years. Only a few days ago our girls traded morse code messages from our front porch to their back one.

We can’t believe it’s going to be a year or more before we can trade more morse code. We love them one and all, and wanted to immediatley get some help organized on their behalf!

If you’re so inclined, please contribute to the fire recover fund here. As of this writing, the fund has raised $5500, with a goal of hitting $12,500.

You know what to do, Bernal neighbors: Let’s hit that goal — and then exceed it.

PHOTO: Fire at 158 Prospect, by Tom Baker

Saturday: Community Meeting to Discuss Future of SF Public Library


The SF Public Library is holding a series of “community conversations” around town to discuss the future of the City’s library system. The next sessions happens on Saturday, morning, June 25 at 9:30 am at the Bernal Library, and you’re invited:

This summer the San Francisco Public Library is embarking on a community engagement initiative throughout the city to ask residents for their views about the public library, its many services and its future.

Through a series of focus groups in each Supervisory District, the Library hopes to gain a greater understanding of different neighborhoods’ challenges and aspirations, and strengthen connections with community residents. We want to find new ways the Library can be of service, and improve our communication to the community about the hundreds of exciting programs the library already offers.

Each focus group will host a targeted audience of residents specially invited to participate as a representative member of the community. You have been referred to the Library as an individual who is active in your local community and as someone who cares deeply about the quality of life for San Franciscans.

We value your time and your opinions and hope you can join us for the Listening Tour event planned for

Saturday, June 25, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Bernal Heights Branch Library – Meeting Room
500 Cortland Ave. at Moultrie

Please RSVP to or (415) 557-4277

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics