Bernal Architect Creates Whimsical Steampunk Bathroom

Residential architect Andre Rothblatt lives in Bernal Heights, and he recently finished a very wild project: a Steampunk Bathroom. In an email to us, Andre explains:

The bathroom was part of a whole house remodel of a Craftsmen-style home is located in Ashbury Heights. The clients are 30-something techies; He’s a computer engineer and she reviews patent application. They introduced me to the Steampunk genre. I’ve always enjoyed industrial design influences in architecture, and I was enthusiastic to design the bathroom in that style. We were lucky to find a great contractor (Frederic Grasset, also Bernal Heights resident!) who teamed with us to realize this imaginative design.

PHOTO: via Andre Rothblatt

Gift Guide: A Homegrown Toy, Developed in Bernal Heights

Need a last-minute gift idea for the kids in your life? Neighbor Matt contacted Bernalwood to tell us about the educational toy he created:

I live on Anderson Street, 13 years now already. Back then I was making computer games. But then the powers that be began looking into making even the golf games violent. I knew it was time to move on. I took time off and pursued patenting something that was the opposite of the computer game: battery free; non electronic; hand held; educational; and real. My effort took 10 years. I founded Twisterz Toys 2 years ago. We are now in 250 retail stores across the country, and in Barnes and Noble, and in 7 countries. We’ve won several awards, and our reviews have been excellent. This might all sound good, but we remain on the brink. My biz partner and I chose a tough time for a start up toy company.

The closest retailer that sells our toys is Peekabootique in Noe Valley. Check us out if you’re looking for battery free edu-toys for kids 3-10.

Want to see it in action? Here’s the promo video:

Bernal Artist Transforms Traffic Lights Into Tableware

Neighbor Lauren Becker has been busy of late, creating industrial-chic tableware from recycled glass. This weekend she’s having an open studio at Recycled Glassworks on Bonview to release some of her new work:

Ever wondered why Bernal Heights doesn’t have any traffic lights once you leave the “flatlands” of Mission/Cesar Chavez/Bayview?

I have them. Sort of.

I just got a good load of traffic lights lenses in — thrown out by surrounding neighborhoods. When they leave my art studio, they have been turned into eye-catching plates. In my Bernal studio, I have been upcycling plate glass into functional tableware for many years. Usually I create artful bowls and dishes from windows, which were discarded by contractors or homeowners nearby.

Occasionally, traffic light lenses come my way. The traffic light dishes are a rare sighting because most glass lenses have already been replaced by more efficient LED lights. If you hate red lights, here is your revenge: eat from them!

This weekend, for the first time, I will open the doors for a Holiday Open Studio where the neighbors can see the entire collection:

Saturday/Sunday (Dec 17/18), noon to 5pm at 238 Bonview St (half a block from Cortland Ave, around the corner from Avedanos).

PHOTOS: Recycled Glassworks

Who Created that Cool Kinetic Sculpture in Holly Park?

La Principessa Errante, a blog about San Francisco art and architecture, has the answer. The sculpture is called Odonatoa, and it was created by Joyce Hsu:

Born in Hong Kong, Joyce Hsu received her BFA from the Mount Allison University in Canada in 1996 and her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1998. She works out of Oakland and creates all kinds of mechanical sculptures.

This kinetic sculpture of painted stainless is one of many insects that Joyce has created.

PHOTOS: La Principessa Errante

Sutro Tower Mini-Model Is Must-Have Decor for Devoted Fans

Though it’s often the subject of scorn and sanctimonious head-shaking, Sutro Tower is also beloved by an underground army of devoted fans who appreciate it as San Francisco’s second-most iconic piece of landscape architecture. (Number One, of course being that famous International Orange bridge.) Monumental and futuristic, Sutro Tower fanboys and fangirls often express their affection via loving photographs, clever t-shirt graphics, and even permanent tattoos.

Meanwhile, Bernal residents enjoy a particularly intimate connection to Sutro Tower, both because it dominates the western horizon when you look out from atop Bernal Hill, and because our own microwave tower so obviously wants to be more like Sutro Tower when it grows up.

But for the sophisticated devotee who craves a 3-D representation of Sutro Tower, the options have been very, very limited. Until now. Through the miracle of modern laser-cutting technology, a local whiz named Aidan now offers 1/1000 wooden models of Sutro Tower for sale on Etsy, and they are superb.

La Lengua rebel leader (and Sutro Tower fetishist) Burrito Justice captured this spycam video footage inside the secret “Mini-Sutro Manufacturing Facility” located 2000′ below the El Farolito burrito shop on Mission at 24th Street. Here’s how the magic happens:

I ordered one last week, and it arrived two days ago. Here’s how it looked when it arrived:

Sutro Tower (Before)

And here’s how it looked after 5 minutes of fun, hands-on, assembly — no tools or glue required:

Sutro Tower Model (After)

Now, as my new model sits on my dresser, I can savor the luxury of admiring Sutro Tower from the safety and comfort of my bed, anytime day or night — even when the real Sutro Tower is obscured by a a brooding blanket of fog. Peekaboo!

Above Sutro Tower

Get your Sutro Tower model right here.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Our New Top Cop Provides a Bernal Heights Crime Summary

While the rest of us were carousing on Cortland Street for the Summer Solstice Stroll, Citizen Sarah attended the San Francisco Police Department community meeting at Ingleside Station on Tuesday evening. Afterward, she did us all the great service of summarizing what transpired. There’s tons of detail to digest, but this is must-read information, so let’s dive right in:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, 6/21/11

This was the first meeting led by the new captain, Daniel Mahoney. He started on the job three weeks ago. He spent some time on his background. He has been with SFPD for 29 years, and he was on the night watch at Ingleside about 10 years ago. In the interim, he worked at the Hall of Justice in various capacities, including head of the special investigations unit and commander of the Office of the Chief of Staff (which oversees community relations, internal affairs, legal, etc.). He also holds top secret clearance with the FBI. He was the other finalist for the chief job that was ultimately offered to Greg Suhr. He came across as a very senior figure, if that makes sense — someone who is very experienced with the entire police system and infrastructure. Ideally, this will be positive for the neighborhoods that make up the Ingleside District.

He considers his policing priorities to be (1) responding to emergency calls well, (2) solving crimes, and (3) community policing. With respect to community policing, he said that arrests alone don’t solve problems – you must have community involvement to do so. His approach to solving problems involves both education and enforcement.

Other attendees at this meeting were Captain John Feeney, head of the night watch at Ingleside (and overseeing the entire city), 7pm-5am; Ed McMahon (no, not that one) from the Office of Citizen Complaints, which oversees complaints against officers; and Chief Rubenstein of Fire Battalion 9.

Crime Update:

I asked about the May 11 Holly Court homicides, and he could not say much since the investigation is being run out of the main SFPD investigations unit and they are restricted on what they can reveal. I also asked about the May 23 manhunt in Bernal (involving a CHP plane and heavily armed SFPD officers), but it was before he started, and he did not know about it, so the mystery will continue for now.

I also asked about the thefts of succulents and other plants in Bernal, and he was not aware of them. PLEASE report these if you have experienced such a theft – call 553-0123. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Reporting all crimes is critical because so much of modern policework is managed via statistical analytics. No report = no data = no resource allocation.]  Another attendee said that succulents from the San Jose/Guerrero mini-park had been taken, and she had had a rosemary bush stolen from in front of her house.

Captain Mahoney discussed city-wide and Ingleside-specific crime statistics for the May 22 to June 18 period. In general and in Ingleside, crime is down. The exceptions are robberies and automobile break-ins. Robberies continue to involve iPhones and other electronic devices. He called the ubiquitous white earbuds “attractors” that signal to a thief that you’ve got something valuable. People leaving BART stations continue to be targets. The typical situation is that the robber will spot someone walking alone and then rob them one or more blocks away from the BART station, especially on a less-trafficked side street. There have been two recent robberies on Thor, which is off of Chenery in Glen Park – one was at 5pm and the other at 12:30am. The captain is deploying decoys and plainclothes officers and also trying to figure out other ways to increase the police presence in these areas, given that they don’t have any additional budget to work with. He also mentioned putting decoys with iPads on MUNI routes that have seen thefts.

Auto break-ins continue. Shaved keys that work with older Japanese cars (Honda, Toyota, Nissan in particular) are used most of the time – there are few actual break-ins with these cars. If you own one of these, he said to get an engine-kill switch and/or a steering-wheel club. If you have a GPS device, thieves will break in if they see the disk mount on the dashboard, even if you’ve removed the GPS unit itself. They will assume it is in the car somewhere.

He mentioned two good arrests – one on Alpha Street in Vis Valley, when an elderly woman called 911 during an attempted break-in, and the police caught the burglar and tied him to a recent armed burglary in the Bayview. The other robbery occurred on the 3100 block of Mission on Monday night, when thieves stole an iPhone 4. The victim had the Find My iPhone app, which then allowed SFPD and the victim to follow the phone to 14th and Valencia, where the police arrested the robbers.

Initiatives:

Captain Mahoney said he is not a fan of vehicle enforcement to raise revenue for the city, but he will do it in so far as it promotes public safety. He plans to have pedestrian decoys (decoy pedestrians?) at various crosswalks to catch cars that don’t yield. He also wants the officers to focus on the five intersections with the most traffic accidents, one of which is 30th/Mission. Finally, he plans to undertake a distracted-driver campaign to catch people texting or using their phone sans earpiece. He does not mind having this information out there, he said, because his goal is to get people to stop doing the targeted act (texting, not yielding, etc), not to issue tickets.

Of particular interest to the Bernal community is that Captain Mahoney is trying to restore, even partially, some level of foot patrols on Cortland. There is no new money for this, but he proposed, for example, having officers park on Cortland and walk around for an hour or so to make sure that they are known to and connecting with members of the community (vs. driving around for their entire shift).

Other:

There is a Police Commission meeting in the community next Weds., 6/29, at 6pm. The meeting is in Vis Valley at 450 Raymond Street. He said there would be plenty of security at the meeting.

There was some discussion of staffing at Ingleside. The station has 109 officers with a goal of 115, which is unlikely given the budget and impending retirements. He said that in the next three years, 500 SFPD officers will be eligible for retirement; meanwhile, because of budget issues, there are NO police academy classes scheduled for 2011/12. During his interviews for the chief job, Captain Mahoney advocated hiring trained officers as lateral hires from all of the area police forces that are doing major layoffs (e.g., Oakland, San Jose) because it is an opportunity to get excellent officers who require much less training (and therefore expense). He is concerned about how SFPD will deal with the America’s Cup in 2013, which will be a 44-day event and will require a great deal of security.

Chief Rubenstein from Battalion 9 spoke about emergency preparedness. He encouraged everyone to go to www.72hours.org and get prepared for an earthquake. He also encouraged people to become volunteers for the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) by undergoing NERT training and certification.

THANK YOU, Citizen Sarah for this amazing report.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Homegrown “I BART SF” Shirt for Transit Fashionistas

Here’s a revolutionary-chic fashion statement for Northside commuters and Southside fans of the 30th Street BART station.

Creator Jeffrey Doker says:

I live in the ‘Wood (Shotwell and Precita). I recently made a BART-themed shirt that I think SF people might love. I know BART doesn’t actually service Bernalwood directly, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

Jeffrey shoots… and scores! Want one? They are available in several flavors.

PHOTO: Jeffrey Doker