Free Wi-Fi Coming Soon to Cortlandia


San Francisco is moving ahead with a program that will install free WiFi networks at 31 locations around the City, and the Bernal Heights Recreation Center just off Cortland was selected as one of the free hotspots. If all goes according to plan, the service will be operational by Spring 2014.

The free service comes courtesy of Google, and the San Francisco Chronicle provides the background:

Six years after a deal to blanket the city fell apart, Supervisor Mark Farrell and Google will announce a plan Wednesday to bring public wireless Internet access, on the technology company’s dime, to parks, recreation centers and plazas across San Francisco. The $600,000 gift from Google will cover the costs of the equipment, installation and maintenance of wireless capabilities for two years.

It will allow residents to work from Mission Dolores Park, let visitors download information to their mobile devices in Civic Center Plaza and make it easier for parents to sign their children up for recreation programs at centers from the Excelsior district to Bernal Heights, Chinatown, the Marina and the Sunset District. In some of those areas, it may be the easiest place to find Internet access, Farrell said.

Star Sighting: Neighbor Markus, Fresh from the Set of “Good Morning America”


Yesterday I walked into Harvest Hills Market  to buy some raspberries, and who did I see? Neighbor Markus!

Of course, he’s Neighbor Markus to us. But to the rest of the world, he’s Markus Spiering, head of product at Flickr, the venerable online photo-sharing service that’s owned by Yahoo.

Flickr rolled out a dramatic (and critically acclaimed) redesign this week, and on Tuesday Neighbor Markus was in New York City to do an appearance on Good Morning America — right alongside Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. (Sizzle!)

Yet on Wednesday, there he was: Neighbor Markus, buying some fruit and a loaf of bread at Harvest Hills… just like us!

Seriously though; Flickr’s new redesign was long overdue, but the final result was well worth the wait. If you haven’t seen Neighbor Markus’s handiwork yet, you should take a peek at the new, improved Flickr

And if you happen to see Neighbor Markus strolling in the neighborhood, give the dude a big high-five. He’s earned it.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Introducing Bernalwood… The Magazine


As our longtime readers know, Bernalwood is many things. It’s a glamour-soaked nickname for Bernal Heights, our fabulous neighborhood. Bernalwood is a blog. Bernalwood is a Flickr group. Bernalwood is a Twitter account. And now, Bernalwood is a magazine.

Let me back up and explain. By day I work at Flipboard, a company that produces a rather lovely app for reading news feeds on your iOS or Android gadgets. Last night, Flipboard introduced a new version of the app that makes it possible to curate and save articles, tweets, and photographs into a digital magazine which (much like the rest of Flipboard) looks rather sexy.

For the last few months, I’ve been test-driving the new version of Flipboard by publishing a magazine called (…wait for it…) Bernalwood! In essence, it’s a curated compilation of all the other manifestations of Bernalwood, all packaged together in one place, in a paginated, visually rich format.


In practical terms, that means I’ve combined the posts from the Bernalwood blog with images submitted to the Bernalwood Flickr group and clever/funny/insightful posts about Bernal Heights that have been posted to Twitter. The result is a way-new sort of neighborhood news publication that you can read right now on your iOS device (Android is coming soon), but which feels like a glossy magazine.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, just follow this link from your device to download Flipboard. Once the app is installed, search for Bernalwood, then tap the “Subscribe” ribbon at the top left to add Bernalwood magazine to your Flipboard.


Don’t worry… the Bernalwood blog isn’t going anywhere. Bernalwood magazine is just a different way to get the Bernal Heights experience, from the safety and comfort of your personal device. Try it out, and thanks, as always, for playing along as we continue the Bernalwood experiment.

Oh, want to create a magazine of your very own? Go for it! The new version of Flipboard lets you do it too.

Bernal Heights Provides Non-Pornographic Demonstration of Vine, Twitter’s New Online Video Service


Vine is a new online video sharing service created by our friends at Twitter. It’s nifty little  service that makes it easy to create and share short, six-second videos that loop endlessly.

In theory, that makes Vine an ideal tool for Burrito Justice wannabes the world over.

In practice, there is a critical difference: whereas Burrito Justice creates animated GIFs to serve the cause of La Lenguan independence, Vine has become notorious as a haven for short-form porn and exhibitionism. Oops.

Thankfully, Bernal Heights serves as the backdrop for a VSFW demonstration of Vine’s potential, in a video created by Bill Couch that’s called “Bernal Fireworks”

Welcome to the Future… you saw it here first.

Bernal Neighbors Create Hypnotic, Animated View of Bernal Heights


It’s 2013. At last. Finally. In Bernal Heights.

Let’s ease into the new year with a nice web animation created by Neighbors Barbara and Mark. It lives on the About Us page of the website for AnimaCrackers, their Bernal-based animation studio. It shows a cute cartoon Bernal Hill, a cute cartoon Sutrito Tower, a spooky cartoon moon, and cartoon spotlights sweeping the Bernal night skies.

It’s highly fashionable and vaguely hypnotic. Which makes a quick neighborly viewing session a perfectly appropriate way to begin 2013 in Bernal Heights.

Bernal Heights Gets High-Profile Cameos in New Google Maps and Flickr Apps

GoogleMaps.BernalShot 2

Right now, tens of millions of desperate Apple iPhone and iPad users are rushing to download the brand new, just-released Google Maps app for iOS. They are doing this because Apple Maps has some trust issues, which makes the arrival (or, reprise) of Google Maps on iPhones and iPads a very big deal.

And when those tens of millions of lost map junkies click on the iTunes Store link to score a copy of the Google Maps app, they are each greeted with a screenshot that gives Bernal Heights prime placement.

Look closely:


Even more closely:



Now, Google is a company with deep pockets. A company that knows what it wants, and it knows how to get it. Google could have shown anyplace in the world on that map. They could have given a shout out to glamorous neighborhoods in New York, London, Paris, Milan, or Tokyo.

But they didn’t.

They gave a shout out to Bernal Heights.

Oh, and this isn’t just a Google thing, either.

Did you hear about the new Flickr app? The one that was also released yesterday? The one that’s also supposed to give the world a taste of how Marissa Mayer plans to save Yahoo? Well, it’s showing off some screenshots too.  And guess what so hot right now neighborhood scored a major cameo on Flickr’s stylish app promo page?


Let’s zoom and enhance for an even closer look:


That’s right, the whole thing is practically a Bernal Heights valentine.

Obvious Conclusion: Bernal Heights r00Lz the Internets.

UPDATE: In the comments, we learn that Neighbor Markus lives in Bernal and also heads up the product team at Flickr. So if you see him on the street, you can say hello, welcome him to the neighborhood, and insinuate your Flickr feature requests into the conversation. In the meantime, here’s the clean version of the photo shown above:

San Francisco in Steffi's sunglasses

Bernal-Based Startup Offers Digital Alternative to Passive-Aggressive Parking Notes

Neighbor Regina wrote up this tasty little article about CurbTxt, a new service based in Bernal Heights that provides a high-tech — and vastly more neighborly — alternative to leaving passive-aggressive notes on parked cars:

Blaring car alarms, forgotten headlights, and neighbor-owned cars blocking your driveway can now be remedied with a text, thanks to a new Bernalwood startup called CurbTxt.

“This is our neighborhood passion project,” says CurbTxt co-founder Alex, as he speaks via phone from CurbTxt HQ, conveniently located directly above Precita Park Cafe.

You’ve probably seen CurbTxt postcards in Bernal’s cafes. The service, which is free, offers a civil solution to neighborhood parking problems (without the need for passive aggressive notes).

Start by texting your license plate number to 415-529-5775 from *your* cell phone (it has to be your phone). Then stick a CurbTxt logo sticker next to your rear license plate. That lets neighbors know they can alert you as well. The texts are instant and anonymous.

“We follow the parking madness on the Bernalwood blog and that served as an inspiration,” says founder Alex, who was also partially inspired by the fact he owns a vintage school bus. He says his ride is “non-standard” when it comes to parking, so he wants to be sensitive to his neighbors’ parking needs.

“This is a close-knit community, and it can be damaging when tickets or tow trucks get involved,” he says. “We can act more like neighbors by reaching out directly to each other.”

Alex believs towing is a “nuclear option” and he hopes CurbTxt will serve as a solution to “the big towing industry” of San Francisco. Our City’s aggressive towing and ticketing even shocks people moving here from other large cities. CurbTxt co-founder Ian just moved here from NYC and racked-up three parking tickets in his first three weeks here.

“The parking issues weren’t in the brochure when I moved to the city,” he says.

The three founders are using a very basic, SMS-based server to automate the process, allowing them to remain at their day jobs. But they think this project has the potential to become a fulltime gig. Our neighborhood, the only one CurbTxt currently supports, is certainly interested.

“I’ve already signed up, and I’m picking up more stickers for my TIC partners,” says neighborhood homeowner Emily. “I think it’s a fabulous idea. Two days ago I saw a car on our street with its lights on. I live on Treat up from the park and I asked around at Precita Park, but it didn’t belong to anyone. I would have loved to have just been able to text them. I love the idea of neighbors supporting neighbors. I hope it catches on.”

I signed up as well during my chat with Alex. Before we said good-bye, he made a fantastic final comment:

“We’re renters, and it’s hard for us to get involved like the more established homeowners. Sometimes we feel like we’re in the dark about issues. Maybe CurbTxt can help bring us into the fold.”

PHOTO: Courtesty of CurbTxt. From left, Alex Ian and Andrew.