Reader Tony, who captured this grim photo on the north side of Bernal Hill on Sunday morning, asks:
WTF? Too poor to pay the dump fee, so we dump it @ Bernal Hill? What’s SF coming to?
WTF is right. (CUE: Crying Indian) But if there is a bright side to the tale, it is that this pile of trash stands out as a relatively rare anomaly. Indeed, this wretched scene is less an indicator of what SF is coming to, than a reminder of how far it as come. After all, not all that long ago, Bernal Hill was routinely used as a dump.
Consider this recollection by Jerry Schimmel about what Bernal Heights Boulevard was like during the 1960s and early 1970s:
The hill was actually a large open wasteland under nominal purview of the Department of Public Works, known by most as DPW. The west and east quarries were in regular use as auxiliary dumps by citizens too cheap, poor, or lazy to pay for hauling or couldn’t manage the drive to Beatty Avenue. Neighborhood residents were among the offenders, if not the worst. I remember Gloria Jiunti at 44 Mullen Avenue once sounding off about a load of worn car parts: “Aw, take it up on the hill and dump it!” And her attitude was not uncommon.
Like the quarries, the roadside verge was and still is an easy place to leave anything from a stained, lumpy mattress to the aromatic leftovers of Saturday night’s blowout. Some dumpers put their trash behind the guardrail (and still do) in a guilty effort to hide it, making it that much harder to retrieve.
In 1966, street sweepers made regular trips to keep the boulevard clear, but in order to get a really big mess hauled away from the quarries, several residents simultaneously had to put the screws on DPW’s Army Street office.
So as grim as this weekend’s trash dump was, the fact that it is so unusual, and attracted so much scorn, is actually a sign of progress. That said, when I drove around Bernal Hill on Monday night, the big trash pile was still there. Ew. Looks like someone needs to put the screws to 311.
PHOTOS: Top, Reader Tony. Historic photos, Jerry Schimmel via Found SF