New “Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book” Celebrates 2014 Bernal Outdoor Cinema Festival

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Neighbor Mason Kirby is an architect who lives on Mullen and works from a cute little office on Bocana just off Cortland. A few years ago, Neighbor Mason created a fabulously clever Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book, which he generously shared with Bernalwood readers.

Now, just in time for the 2014 Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival that gets underway next week, Neighbor Mason shares a new edition of his Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book for wannabe Bernal architects of all ages:

We’ve created a second, collectors, edition of our Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book. Download away! In this new edition, we didn’t need to include any houses from Noe Valley (……hisssss……hooray!). Also, we included a moon-like reminder about the Precita Park screening of Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema (which we are helping sponsor) that will happen on Saturday September 6th at 6:30.

Download your copy of the 2014 Bernal Heights Architectural Coloring Book right here!!

Don’t have a printer? No problem! Neighbor Anne tells us where you can pick up a hard copy:

The coloring books are available at Precita Park Café, Charlie’s Café, Precita Valley Center, and the Bernal Library. In addition, we will have a stack of them at the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema information table at Precita Park on Saturday, September 6.

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Got that, kids? Sharpen your colored pencils, line up your crayons, try and stay within the lines, and don’t forget that all your pictures must conform with the Bernal Heights East Slope Design Review Guidelines. (Just kidding about that last part. Sort of.)

And meanwhile, get ready for Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema 2014, which kicks off with a gala Opening Night Party at El Rio  on Thursday night, Sept. 4.

Sexy Bernal Sweatshirt Hoodies For Sale to Support Final Phase of Library Art Project

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The Bernal Library Art Project is entering its final phase.

After all the controversy, and the delicate mediation, and the hard-earned consensus, and the installation of new artwork on the library’s Cortland and Moultrie facades, work is now underway to complete the art on the rear, playground-facing side of the library. Scaffolding is up, and artist Johanna Poethig is working on her clever tile mosaic/mural, which incorporates vintage photographs shared by Bernal neighbors. (You can see some in-progress snaps above.)

All that remains is just a little more fundraising. And for that, the esteemed Bernalese who have spearheaded the Library Art Project invite you to purchase one of their rather fashionable sweatshirt hoodies, each of which includes a cameo by Bernal’s own celebrity icon, Sutrito Tower:

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Here’s the pitch from the Library Art Project team:

Phase 2 of the Bernal Library Art Project is scheduled for completion this fall. Scaffolding is up on the back of the library to paint and prepare the wall for installation of the amazing glass and ceramic tile mural that Johanna Poethig has designed for this space.

So, even though the mural is going up, the funding is not complete. Our current, and perhaps final, fund raising effort is this terrific Bernal Heights sweatshirt hoodie. Please note:

  • The copyrighted image by Reuben Rude will not be duplicated in the future!
  • Supplies are limited!
  • They are available in sizes from XL to XS.
  • Hoodies are for purchase at Heartfelt for $45
  • All proceeds above cost support Phase 2 of the Bernal Lilbrary Art Project.

Although lightweight, it’s warm and super comfy and looks really cool. Don’t wait or you may miss the opportunity to own this Bernal Heights collectible!

PHOTOS: via the Bernal Library Art Project Facebook page.

If Two Homes Are Built on This Bernal Heights Property, Will It Explode in a Giant Scorching Fireball?

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There’s a design review committee meeting happening tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 28 at 7 pm at the Precita Center.

The topic on the agenda will be that proposal to build two single-family homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom on the southeast slope of Bernal Hill, on the undeveloped lot just below Bernal Heights Boulevard at Folsom and Chapman. There are questions to consider. Like, how is the new right-of-way going to work, since there’s no road there now, and the slope is so hella steep? And what about drainage, and the garden that’s now on the site, and the existing character of the neighborhood? Also, if homes are built here, will the site explode in a gigantic, scorching, San Bruno-style fireball?

The mortal peril associated with the giant scorching fireball scenario introduces a dramatic new element to the usual Bernal Heights design review fare. The giant scorching fireball scenario has been popularized by some neighbors around the proposed development site, and they have detailed their concerns in a flyer:

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Let’s zoom and enhance for better legibility:

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Blast radius! Oh my.

But is this true? Is this pipeline the same type that blew up in San Bruno? How likely is it that a giant scorching fireball scenario will ultimately engulf everything inside the red circle?

Remain calm, Citizens of Bernalwood. Let’s walk through this piece by piece.

The gas pipeline that runs through Bernal Heights is called Line 109, and it is definitely serious business. The 2010 San Bruno explosion is fresh in Bay Area memory, but that was Line 132 — a different pipeline altogether. That said, Line 109 also exploded once, in a giant scorching fireball, right here in Bernal Heights, back in 1963.

So there’s that.

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Bernalwood reported on the present-day status of Line 109 back in 2011. At the time, we said:

The good news is, our section of Line 109 is relatively new [installed in the early 1980s], and thus hopefully does not have any of the shoddy, 1950s-era welds that were blamed in the San Bruno explosion. Likwise, it seems that an active inspection regimen is in place to validate the line’s integrity.

And so, we concluded:

Given the magnitude of PG&E’s recent mismanagement of its pipeline infrastructure, and the tremendous potential for harm, unwavering diligence will be required by both Bernal Heights residents and our local authorities to ensure the pipeline will remain safe for decades to come.

So, diligence.

That brings us to the present day. Bernalwood has been contacted by a group of neighbors around the proposed development who have been raising alarm about the giant scorching fireball scenario and rallying to oppose construction on the site. We also sent a series of technical questions to PG&E, to get additional information about the status of the pipeline at this location.

We will hear from both sides.

Writing on behalf of the neighbors who oppose the project, Neighbor Maiyah tells Bernalwood:

The site is at Folsom and Chapman, right next to the community garden. There’s a huge gas transmission line right next to the two plots… just like the one in San Bruno. It’s the same line that exploded in 1963 near Alemany and injured 9 firefighters (one also died of a heart attack) and blew up a house. I’m now a part of a small group of concerned Bernal residents who are trying to bring to light the facts of this situation and to inform others of the potential dangers.

I saw the developer (Fabien Lannoye) at the East Slope Design Review Board Meeting in April and he seemed to be not very concerned about the pipeline, not knowing the exact depth of it. He sort of shrugged when he said PG&E had no record of it. Bernal residents had asked him for a comprehensive site plan, the exact location of the pipe, the impact on the nearby community garden, and many more questions and his answer was that he didn’t ever receive the letter in the mail. It made me feel uneasy to say the least.

Just thinking about that huge transmission line with heavy construction equipment digging and moving earth over and around it on one of the steepest grades in San Francisco (35%), makes me cringe.

One of our members recently emailed Robert Bea, Professor Emeritus at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley, who investigated the San Bruno disaster. She asked him if she should be concerned about the pipe line here in Bernal. He replied yes, with the facts that have been gathered so far: (1) the pipeline is old (1980’s) installed in an area with highly variable topography, (2) there are no records on the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline, (3) there are no definitive guidelines to determine if the pipeline is ‘safe’ and ‘reliable’, (4) there is apparent confusion about who is responsible (government, industrial – commercial) for the pipeline safety, reliability, and integrity.

This list is identical to the list of concerns that summarized causation of the San Bruno Line 132 gas pipeline disaster.

I live about a block from the proposed construction site, so I’m not too worried, but those of us who live right next to the pipeline are thinking twice about their safety right now.

That’s the argument against building two homes on the lots at 3516 and 3526 Folsom.

To better understand the technical issues, Bernalwood reached out to PG&E with a detailed series of questions related to Line 109 in Bernal Heights and potential construction hazards at the proposed development site. PG&E was very responsive, and we received answers to our questions late last week.

Bernalwood’s questions, and PG&E’s responses, are provided here in their entirety:

1. When was the section of pipeline under the the proposed home site installed? When was it last upgraded?

The line was installed in 1981. PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safe operation of this line.

2. How often is this section of 109 inspected? What does the inspection entail? When did the last inspection take place? What were the results of that inspection?

This section of L-109 was successfully strength tested (via a hydrostatic pressure test) at the time of installation. PG&E records show no history of leaks for L-109 in this area.

PG&E has a comprehensive inspection and monitoring program to ensure the safety of its natural gas transmission pipeline system.  PG&E regularly conducts patrols, leak surveys, and cathodic protection (corrosion protection) system inspections for its natural gas pipelines.  Any issues identified as a threat to public safety are addressed immediately.  PG&E also performs integrity assessments of certain gas transmission pipelines in urban and suburban areas.

Patrols:  PG&E patrols its gas transmission pipelines at least quarterly to look for indications of missing pipeline markers, construction activity and other factors that may threaten the pipeline.  L-109 through the [Bernal Heights] neighborhood was last aerially patrolled in May 2014 and no issues were found.

Leak Surveys:  PG&E conducts leak surveys at least annually of its natural gas transmission pipelines.  Leak surveys are generally conducted by a leak surveyor walking above the pipeline with leak detection instruments.  L-109 in San Francisco was last leak surveyed in April 2014 and no leaks were found.

Cathodic Protection System Inspections:  PG&E utilizes an active cathodic protection (CP) system on its gas transmission and steel distribution pipelines to protect them against corrosion.  PG&E inspects its CP systems every two months to ensure they are operating correctly.  The CP systems on L-109 in this area were last inspected in May 2014 and were found to be operating correctly.

Integrity Assessments:  There are three federally-approved methods to complete a transmission pipeline integrity management baseline assessment:  In-Line Inspections (ILI), External Corrosion Direct Assessment (ECDA) and Pressure Testing.  An In-Line Inspection involves a tool (commonly known as a “pig”) being inserted into the pipeline to identify any areas of concern such as potential metal loss (corrosion) or geometric abnormalities (dents) in the pipeline.  An ECDA involves an indirect, above-ground electrical survey to detect coating defects and the level of cathodic protection.  Excavations are performed to do a direct examination of the pipe in areas of concern as required by federal regulations.  Pressure testing is a strength test normally conducted using water, which is also referred to as a hydrostatic test.

PG&E performed an ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2009 and no issues were found.  PG&E plans to perform another ECDA on L-109 in this area in 2015.  This section of L-109 also had an ICDA (Internal Corrosion Direct Assessment) performed in 2012, and no issues were found.

Automated Shut-off Valves: There are two types of automated shut-off valves recognized within the natural gas industry: Remote Controlled Valves (RCV’s), which can be operated remotely from PG&E’s Gas Control Center, and Automatic Shutoff Valves (ASV’s) that will close automatically as a result of rapidly falling pipeline pressures and/or increased flows at the valve location. There is an RCV on L-109 in Daly City that can be used to isolate the section of L-109 that runs through this neighborhood.

3. Is this section of pipeline 109  “the same type that blew up in San Bruno?”

No. Line 109 operates at a much lower pressure and is smaller in diameter, and is of a much more recent vintage.

4. What safety procedures does PG&E put in place when home or street contruction occurs on the site of a major gas pipeline like 109?

Anytime a contractor or resident makes an excavation on franchise or private property, they must call 811 (State Law for Underground Service Alerts [USA]) in advance so we can identify and properly locate our UG facilities.  When our Damage Prevention group gets the USA request and identifies a critical facility like a gas transmission line in the scope of work, they notify the caller that they must contact PG&E for a standby employee.  PG&E must observe a safe excavation around our lines if any digging is within 10’ of it.  We must be present when they dig around this line.  Our standby inspector will instruct and guide the excavating party to avoid damage.  Excavators who violate this Law are subject to fines.

5. Does the steep grade of the Folsom site have any impact on Pipeline 109? Given the grade at the proposed site, are any special provisions or procedures required to ensure the safety of the pipeline during construction?

The grade of the street have no impacts on the operation of the line.  If the cover is not removed or disturbed within 10’ of the line, there are no special precautions needed.

6. Are there any specific technical or safety challenges posed by the proposed home site, and if so, how does PG&E plan to address them?

As long as the structures are built within the property lines similar to the existing [homes on Folsom Street], they will not pose any issues for us patrolling and maintaining that line.  The proposed home sites are not on top of line 109, and are no closer to the line than existing homes in the neighborhood.

Additional Background: In the area outlined in the map [Bernalwood sent PG&E, shown above], PG&E’s natural gas transmission pipeline L-109 runs down Folsom Street and turns east to follow Bernal Heights Blvd.  Line 109 in this area is a 26-inch diameter steel pipeline installed in 1981 and has a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 150 pounds per square inch gage (psig), which is 19.8% of the pipe’s specified minimum yield strength (SMYS).  This provides a considerable margin of safety, since it would take a pressure over 750 psig to cause the steel in the pipe to begin to deform.

Whew. Someone should turn that into a TED talk.

Bernalwood’s conclusion from the above is as follows: The handbill that has been posted around Bernal Heights by concerned neighbors contains several errors. Line 109 in Bernal Heights is not the same type of pipeline as Line 132, which exploded in San Bruno. The inspection history provided by PG&E undermines the assertion that “there are no records on the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline.” Line 109 has been the subject of a recent and ongoing inspection regimen, and if the developer follows the required safety protocols, the hazards associated with construction on the proposed development site should be routine and manageable.

Here too, rigorous diligence will be required to ensure the project is executed and managed properly. If such diligence is applied, the Citizens of Bernalwood may soon enjoy the company of a few new neighbors on the upper reaches of Folsom Street, without having to endure the hardship and mortal peril associated with a giant scorching fireball emanating from the new home site.

Reasonable minds might reasonably view this matter differently. Either way, see you at the design review meeting, 7pm on Wednesday, May 28 at Precita Center.

Neighbor Noah Invites You on a Trip to Stylish North Korea

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Neighbor Noah Lang lives in Precitaville, and he runs the wonderful Electric Works fine art press in SoMa. He’s a terrific fellow with superb taste, and I suspect he’d be a great travel companion. That’s important, because Neighbor Noah would like you to join him on a tour of North Korea.

Yes, just imagine the surreal sensation you will feel as you compare notes with Neighbor Noah about your favorite Cortland Avenue boutiques while taking in the art and architecture of exotic Pyongyang!

There’s an informational meeting about the trip happening at Electric Works (1360 Mission St., first floor) on Thursday, January 30  at 6:30 pm. Until then, Neighbor Noah writes:

I took my first trip to North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2008 as a side trip from Beijing while attending the Olympics. It was an amazing, eye-opening trip.

The DPRK is perhaps the least-well understood country of our times.  And while relations between the US and the DPRK are strained, travel there is relatively quite safe.

While traveling in the DPRK, we will be under auspices of Koryo Tours. They are by far the most experienced, most trusted company that offers travel to the DPRK.  Their connections go back over 20 years and they offer access to this secretive country that no one else can or does. During this art and architecture tour, we will gain access to buildings and sites that have previously remained closed to all other Western travelers.

The people behind Koryo Tours are responsible for, among other things, several interesting films on the DPRK.  Several of these films, including “A State of Mind,” “Crossing the Line,” and “The Game of Their Lives” offer a look into this mysterious country. I highly suggest watching what you can before the tour. All are available through Netflix.

But I’m inviting you to travel with me on a once-in-a-lifetime tour to a country like no other.

The sights in the DPRK are unlike those in any part of the world.  Many people who have traveled there have compared it to stepping into a time machine.  Pyongyang is an amazingly clean, modern showcase city: the jewel of the DPRK.  During the tour you’ll find a sparkling city, lined with trees, fountains and parks.  The architecture is what caused me to take a second look while traveling there. These were not your typical Stalinist-era concrete monstrosities. That’s when I first thought of a trip devised to have a focused look at its idiosyncratic design and often surprisingly playful nature.  The public art, while all supporting the vision of the DPRK’s founders, is quite powerful; the mosaics, statues and painting all impressive.

Dates are April 12—19, 2014. Travel is from Beijing to Pyongyang and back. Please visit the itinerary page for a detailed description of the tour.  We need to be in Beijing on the 10, and flights can be scheduled home as early as the the evening of the 19th.

PHOTO: via Noah Lang

Übercool Architecture Magazine Visits Bernal Home with Living Roof

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Dwell is a glamorous San Francisco-based magazine about modern domestic architecture, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Dwell influences the design agenda for forward-thinking homeowners and residential architects nationwide.

In its current issue, Dwell celebrates Neighbor Peter and Neighbor Grace’s Bernal Heights home on Ellsworth, which features lovely landscaped gardens in the back yard and… on the roof:

Bernal Hill, one of San Francisco’s sunniest and least-developed spots, is a bare peak rising some 450 feet out 
of an otherwise densely packed neighborhood of charming turn-of-the-20th-century homes and shops. But whereas many manmade gardens are watered to be verdant year-round, Bernal Hill’s winter green and summer brown are a refreshing marker of the seasons. And that 
is exactly what designer Peter Liang desired atop his recently remodeled 2,000-square-foot home on the hill’s southern slope.

Now his 580-square-foot green roof is like a piece 
of the hill; its indigenous vegetation—seeded by birds and wind—is irrigated only by seasonal rain and dew.

Purple thistles, California poppies, clover, and dandelions have all taken root in the roughly ten-inch-deep, 
lightweight humus and grape-husk soil. Liang has even handcrafted naturalistic undulations in the roof’s terrain to serve as shields against night breezes for when he 
and his wife, Grace, slip up through a ceiling hatch to sleep under the stars.

PHOTOS: Ike Ideani for Dwell

New Renderings Reveal the St. Luke’s Hospital of Tomorrow, Today

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Now that all the squabbling over the plans has been settled (knock wood), California Pacific Medical Center has released a new set of renderings that show what the new, redesigned, 120-bed St. Luke’s Hospital on Cesar Chavez at Valencia will look like when it’s done.

SF Appeal provides the overview:

A previous development agreement reached between city and hospital officials last year called for a smaller-scale hospital at St. Luke’s and a larger one at the Cathedral Hill site at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, but was shelved by supervisors unhappy with the deal.

One of the aspects of the previous proposed deal that supervisors criticized was an escape clause that could have allowed CPMC to close St. Luke’s if its operating margin stayed negative for two consecutive years.

In addition, residents near the proposed Cathedral Hill site had complained about the prospect of increased traffic congestion from a hospital being built at the intersection of two of the city’s main thoroughfares, he said.

Supervisor Mark Farrell applauded the new agreement in March, which he said “incorporates the needs and concerns of our neighborhoods.”

Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes St. Luke’s, said that hospital is “very personal to me” because he had received care there when he was uninsured as a young adult.

He said the new plan “ensures the long-term viability of St. Luke’s.”

With luck, construction should begin by the end of the year. Find more detail about the project at the RebuildCPMC website.

Cozy Bernal Heights Vacation Rental Gets Good Gas Mileage

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Here’s an easy way to get away from it all — without having to get away at all!

Check out this suh-weet Airbnb vacation rental in Bernal Heights. It’s comfortably furnished, with a queen-size bed, plush seating, big windows, and it even comes with a car you can use. Plus, at just $520 a month (or $92 a night), it’s a fine deal. But there’s just one catch… IT’S A VAN!

I have a 1990 Chevy Conversion van with only 45,000 miles. She runs great and has a cozy queen size van bed in the back and three captain’s chairs, including the driver’s. It has a clean record and gets pretty good gas mileage for a van.  You must have a clean driving record and a valid driver’s licence plus you’re own non-owner’s driver insurance.

The listing shows a street address on Precita Avenue, which is very glamorous. Sadly, however, the listing also informs us that this rental property does not include a kitchen, pool, fireplace, wireless Internet, heating, intercom, washer/dryer, hot tub… or free parking.

UPDATE: It looks like the listing has been removed — Airbnbrushed from history!

HAT TIP: Uptown Almanac