Family of Alex Nieto Begins Legal Action Against City


Bernal resident Alex Nieto was killed on Bernal Hill following an officer-involved shooting on March 21. Yesterday, attorney John Burris filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nieto’s family seeking to compel the City to provide additional information about the circumstances surrounding his death. The SF Examiner reports:

Alejandro Nieto, 28, a San Francisco resident, was killed in Bernal Heights Park after being asked to show his hands but instead drawing a stun gun that was mistaken for a real gun, according to police.

On the steps of City Hall on Monday, about 30 people held a banner asking for justice as a lawyer for the family announced the claim filing with the City Attorney’s Office and called on outside agencies to investigate the incident.

“The version of the story that the police have trotted out, we have concerns and frankly skepticism,” said Adante Pointer, one of the family’s attorneys.

The City has 45 days to respond to the claim, after which the Nieto family can sue for what it says was an unjustified killing.

However, well-known civil-rights attorney John Burris, whose firm is representing the Nietos, said any questions about the incident will never be answered under the current system, therefore the family must sue to find out what really happened.

That system of police oversight, from the Office of Citizen Complaints to the District Attorney’s Office, rarely finds police in the wrong, Burris said. Yet at least three recent incidents — a federal indictment of six officers for allegedly violating constitutional rights, a police-involved shooting that ended with a wounded officer and Nieto’s death — show they do in fact mess up and even break the laws, he said.

“It’s always justified,” said Burris of the findings of most investigations into police shootings.

Some of the questions that remain unanswered include how many times Nieto was shot, the names of the officers involved, and why police questioned the Nieto family and searched their home before informing them of Alejandro Nieto’s death.

Alex Nieto’s friends and family have created a website for him at In addition, they plan to hold monthly Burritos on Bernal tribute walks on the 21st of each month, starting this Monday, April 21 at 5 pm. The walks will begin in Precita Park, and proceed up to Bernal Hill.

PHOTO: Nieto’s father (wearing 49ers cap) and John Burris (at microphone) yesterday at City Hall. Photo by Steve Rhodes


Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments

Sign Up Now to Get a Sidewalk Tree In Front of Your Bernal Home



Neighbor Phil Pierce live on Tompkins Street. By day he works as the community outreach coordinator for Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), the greentastic group that organizes sidewalk greenery plantings here in the City.

Neighbor Phil is spreading the word that Friends of the Urban Forest is planning a tree-planting in Bernal Heights, so if you want one in front of your house, you should sign up now:

FUF has green ($$) to make your block green!

Do you want to get a tree in front of your property?
We are coming to the Bernal Heights, and now is your chance to be a part of it!

Friends of the Urban Forest has funding to subsidize 75% of the costs to plant trees, with a Community Planting Day planned for June 14, 2014.

You only need to pay $135 and choose what species you want — then FUF will handle all of the prep work, remove the cement, provide the tree itself, and do three scheduled tree care visits over the first three years of the tree’s life to help it thrive!

For more information, visit the Bernal Heights page.
Contact, (415) 268-0772

Deadline for forms is 4/30

PHOTOS: Friends of the Urban Forest

Posted in Infrastructure, Plants and Gardening | 26 Comments

Selfie Drone Video Reminds Us That to Stand on Bernal Hill Is to Have a Commanding View of a Tiny Rock Hurtling Through the Cold Vacuum of Space

Check out this insanely wonderful selfie drone video created by FOBernalwood Amit Gupta.

PRO TIP: Go full screen!!!


Hat Tip: Vic Wong

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Fruitless Car Break-In Captured in Security Camera Video


Once again, a street-facing security camera has captured detailed footage of an infuriating crime in Bernal Heights. This latest incident was non-violent, fortunately, but also terribly common.

A neighbor on Elsie narrates the security camera video [Dropbox-hosted] that shows a would-be thief breaking in to her family’s car:

My husband’s car got broken into [during the week of April 7, 2014] in front of our house on Eslie, and we have it on video. It’s not as riveting as the recent robbery video that Bernalwood posted, but it’s interesting to see how they do it.

This happened at about 2am. You see a car driving slowly along the street, close to the parked cars. I am guessing they are looking for Hondas/Acuras, because they have shaved keys. They then stop in my neighbor’s driveway, and two people get out.

The first guy works on my husband’s car (black Honda) for a while, apparently not noticing that the rear passenger window (the small panel behind the main window) had been knocked out in an earlier break-in. The second guy starts working on other cars on the street. It’s hard to see because the windowframe is blocking him, but you can see him start to work (unsuccessfully) on my visiting mother-in-law’s Prius behind the Honda, then you can see his shadow as he goes across the street.

The first guy eventually gets in through the driver’s door and gets all the way into the car and shuts the door. He was rifling through stuff on the inside (everything was all over the place in my husband’s car this a.m.), and then he pops the trunk and looks inside. My husband’s car has been broken into so many times that he doesn’t leave anything – even pennies – in there. Eventually, the first guy gets out and goes back to the waiting car, and the second guy comes running up and hops in, and the car drives off.

Posted in Crime | 11 Comments

Neighbor Laurie Wigham’s Original Watercolors on Display at Bernal Library


Neighbor Laurie Wigham should need no interaction to in-the-know Bernalwood readers, because her terrific watercolors of scenes around Bernal Hill have brought a lot of smiles to our faces. Now some of  Neighbor Laurie’s watercolor are on display in the Bernal Heights Library.

I finally got through the Spring Break college tours and had a chance to put up those watercolors in the library. There wasn’t room for nearly as many as I would have liked to show, but you will recognize some of them.

Indeed we do!  For example:

The show is part of the ongoing series of displays in the library foyer by members of the Russellers watercolor group. Neighbor Laurie adds that the group is “open to all, and meets every other Friday downstairs in the library.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Elsie Street Library Opens Mysterious Main Branch

STEUER-mainbranch1 Neighbor Sharon found a secret public library tucked away along a leafy portion of Elsie Street north of Cortland. She has no idea how or when it got there:

I’ve always thought of Bernal as “Brigadoon” — a small town atop a hill in a city where even San Francisco residents ask “where is that?” when we mention it.

So whether, like Brigadoon, the Elsie Street Library Main Branch has always been there, or just appeared on certain days, to certain people, I can’t say for sure.

I walk the street all the time. I’m always looking at the houses and the flowers, seeing the paint colors and street plantings. I can’t tell you for sure when the elves set up this library, but we’ve never seen it before. I love it!

PHOTO: Neighbor Sharon

Posted in Food and Drink, Found Things | 9 Comments

Woman Found Dead in Minivan at Safeway Parking Lot


A strange and upsetting story unfolded yesterday afternoon at the Taoist Safeway on Mission Street. A woman was found dead in her car in the Safeway parking lot.

Neighbor Valerie was on the scene, and she says foul play does not appear to have been a factor:

I went to Safeway around 1 pm. I was driving in. and there were a ton of SFPD and SFFD cars/trucks that had just pulled into the parking lot. They went over to an older minivan that was parked on the right side (next to the taqueria), and the paramedics appeared to be attending to someone.

When I was checking out, I could see that there were still several cops/cars hanging out near the van, but all the fire department trucks and the ambulance were gone.

I asked the cashier what was going on. She said someone had died in their car. Apparently the woman was known to the Safeway staff; she went in often to eat samples and then would go into her van to sleep for a few hours. It is possible that the deceased was there for a full day.

Eventually, someone decided to call the cops and found the unfortunate scene. As I was leaving, they had it blocked off with crime scene tape.

PHOTO: Bernal Safeway from Bernal Heights, by Thomas Hawk

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments