Neighbors Furious After Bike Stolen at Gunpoint on Leese Street


Neighbor Mat had his custom-built bike stolen at gunpoint on Leese St. earlier this week, and his friends and neighbors are spreading the word:

Our singlespeed cross friend, Mat, was robbed at gunpoint one block from my house last night in Bernal Heights on Leese near Park and Mission. The motherfuckers took his bike and his wallet. One asshole pinned him against the car pointing the gun in his face while another one grabbed the bike and his wallet while he was unloading. I happened on the scene minutes after while Mat was giving a report to the police. I had bikes myself to unload. Better be sure I’m not going to be playing by the same rules anymore.

If you see the Gaulzetti bike in the picture attached, please notify Mat and the police immediately.

I talked to two cops in our precinct this morning, and they had little encouraging news. They said that only three teams patrol a huge swath of the city in the Ingleside District–Excelsior, Outer Mission, Bernal, Glen Park. They told me that there are few convictions and barely any jail time, one or two days max, for felony robbery when property is involved. The only sentences are for bodily injury, even if the people are caught on tape. They see the same thieves cycling through the system “hundreds of times” and “the courts just put them right back out on the street.” They said, “policing is a partnership between the community and law enforcement, and San Francisco is not a police-friendly city . . . there’s only so much we can do. . . . . the advice we can give you is don’t be a victim.”

A biased view I’m sure, but I’m lobbying to my landlord and other tenants for cameras and automated flood lights and signage. I’ve contacted Bernal Neighborhood Center to see what community policing goes on.

Neighbor Sarah, your ever-vigilant crime correspondent, shares this recommendation:

One thing that anyone interested in community policing should do is to contact SAFE to set up a neighborhood watch group. You can fill out the form here.

It may not be what immediately comes to mind after an incident like this, but having more trained eyes on the street goes a long way.

PHOTO: Neighbor Mat’s stolen bike

Wednesday: “Cupcake Happy Hour” at Little Bee Baking’s Anniversary Party


There’s another one-year anniversary happening on Cortland this week. Bernal Neighbor Stacie Pierce from Little Bee Bakery extends the invite, with an extra pinch of yum:

Our 1 year anniversary is on Wednesday, 10/15!

We have had such a great year and have really felt a lot of love and support from Bernal and beyond. We just want to say thanks to everyone and are excited to be baking in Bernal for many years to come!

There will be cupcake “happy hour” from 4-6pm, with free mini cupcakes (one per customer – until they run out).


PHOTO: Neighbor Stacie via Little Bee

Saturday: Get Cocktailian at Holy Water’s First Anniversary


Has it been a year already? My, how time flies…

Holy Water, our tasty refuge for cocktailians in Cortlandia, opened one year ago. Owner John Ottman invites you to come in for the birthday party:

This Saturday is the one year Anniversary party of Holy Water. Everyone is invited!! We want to thank the neighborhood for the continual support throughout this past year and hopefully the years to come. See yall soon!

There will be merriment. There will be a taco truck. PRO TIP: John makes a mean Jungle Bird:


PHOTO: Jungle Bird at Holy Water, photographed and consumed by Telstar Logistics

Then and Now: 90 Years of Auto Biz at the Former Mission Chevrolet Dealership


Recently, Bernalwood noticed a big For Sale/Lease sign on the facade of our locavore auto partsmonger, the stylish O’Reilly store on Mission at Precita.

More changes, afoot?  Perhaps. Eventually. Inevitably. Because change is the only constant.

Come what may, the thing to remember about this particular building is that it was originally constructed in the late 1920’s as the showroom for Mission Chevrolet, an automobile dealership established during the early years of the motorcar revolution, at a time when this corner of Bernal Heights was making a dramatic transition from equine industries to internal combustion.

Here’s the location of today’s O’Reilly store, as seen in 1927 on Mission Street looking north at Precita:


Mission Chevrolet was still under construction in left-center of the image, so let’s zoom and enhance to take a closer look at the facade. The Chevrolet bow tie sign is clearly visible, just to the right of the Delicatessen Grill (which is now home to Virgil’s):


It’s nifty to see the front of the old Chevy dealership. But the back side of the building was way cooler.

The front door to the Mission Chevrolet showroom was on Mission Street, but the Service entrance was on Valencia, just south of Army/Cesar Chavez. This contemporary aerial photograph from the Bernalwood Intelligence Agency makes the building’s configuration clear to see:


Now, here’s what Mission Chevrolet’s Valencia facade looked like in the late 1920s, courtesy of a photo from the Bernal History Project:


Again, let’s zoom and enhance:


First. OMG! Look at Bernal Hill in the background. So naked and soooo cuuuuute! No Sutrito Tower. No trees. No party hat!

In the 1920s photo of the Valencia side, some of the architectural details are a little hard to distinguish. But they’re easy to visualize… because they’re still there today! Here’s the same spot, in 2014:


The flagpole remains on the far right side of the building, as well as the Spanish-style roof, and the arches from the original entrances. But the coolest detail is the bas–relief roundel right above the arches. The reliefs are still there, and if you look closely, you can still see a Chevrolet from the late 1920s embedded in the facade:


It’s a fun element, because it’s a representation of a late 1920s Chevrolet that’s baked into the building facade, rather like a bug in amber.

Picture it: Here’s what you’d get for your hard-earned Bernal dollars if you wandered down to Mission Chevrolet in 1928.

1928 Chevrolet Ad


SFFD Staffing Changes May Slow Paramedic Access in Bernal Heights


Neighbor Will emailed Bernalwood to share some concerns about emergency medical team staffing at SFFD Station 32 in Holly Park. He also calls your attention to a Fire Commission meeting that’s happening tonight:

There are some changes afoot with how the San Francisco Fire Department assigns paramedics to neighborhoods, and Station 32 in Holly Park is one of the fire houses that are affected.

Until this week, Station 32 was “high priority” enough to have an Advanced Life Support (ALS) engine. This meant that one of the engine crew was always a paramedic. However, in the last few days the SFFD has reorganized this priority list, which in effect means that Engine 32 will almost never have a paramedic assigned. Bernal Height’s engine will become Basic Life Support (BLS) only. This means that medical calls will be attended to by an EMT until an ALS engine or an ambulance arrives with a paramedic on board. Paramedics are trained and licensed to administer life-saving drugs; EMTs are not.

Particularly in the light of the poor response times of SFFD ambulances that have been widely reported, Bernal residents should be concerned about this sudden change in paramedic coverage. Someone in the neighborhood in cardiac arrest will now have to wait for an ALS engine from Station 11 (26th @ Church), Station 9 (Jerrold @ Upton), or for one of the overstretched ambulances in order to receive the drugs and paramedic care that may save their life.

A further concern is that the engine at 32 is a compact apparatus which is able to maneuver well in the narrow streets of Bernal Heights. The regular sized engines which will be rushing to the neighborhood have a far more difficult time negotiating these streets, which will potentially affect the response time to a medical emergency.

I am very close to an employee of SFFD; they do not wish to publicly question or criticize the Department because of the fear of disciplinary action. I think it would be great if somebody from Bernalwood called the Department to find out what is behind these changes. Concerned citizens might want to ask questions at an SF Fire Commission meeting; the next one will take place on October 9 at 4pm at SFFD Headquarters, 698 2nd Street.

PHOTO: Engine 11 in Bernal Heights, by Telstar Logistics

What Is the Mysterious, Reverberating Sound We Hear in North Bernal?


This week, several residents of Precitaville have heard a strange, deep-throated rumbling sound echoing through the air.

It’s been a topic of discussion in various neighborhood mailing lists — and Bernalwood’s inbox.

Indeed, your Bernalwood editor has actually heard the sound a few times as well. Personally, I thought it sounded like a very large diesel engine at idle, or a massive extraterrestrial spacecraft hovering over Bernal Hill. Or, at least, what I imagine a massive extraterrestrial spacecraft would sound like, if it was hovering over Bernal Hill.

Yesterday Neighbor John wrote to Bernalwood:

Does anybody know what that rumbling sound is?  I’ve heard it for a couple of days now, runs through the night too.  Weird.

Neighbor Linda heard it again this morning:

The noise is back. Time for some sleuthing.

As far as I can tell, it started on Monday afternoon/evening and continued until Tuesday morning. It started again Tuesday around noon, but quieter. I’m going to attribute that to the weird atmospheric noise bounce we get sometimes (remember Beyonce?). It’s also possible it was going the entire time and I just didn’t hear it.

Right now it’s loud and clear.

I can’t figure out where it’s coming from.

Yesterday evening I set out to figure it out. I walked Bessie to Precita to Shotwell, across to Cesar Chavez, down Cesar Chavez to Folsom, all around St. Anthony’s, up Folsom to Precita to Flynn school, and down Harrison to Cesar Chavez. Most of the time it was really quiet and of course the noise from Cesar Chavez made it inaudible. But when I crossed the pathway in the park I could hear it distinctly on Precita between Treat and Harrison.

I gave up and went home. Based on this I’m guessing it’s coming from the other side of Cesar Chavez, maybe down Harrison. I might try to drive around later but don’t have much time.

Maybe an intrepid reader of Bernalwood knows what this strange sound is.

Neighbor John says it sounds familiar:

Back before the Iraq invasion, the Navy did lots of training on the Bay. Might be the same. Seaborne pilot rescue. As I recall, they were doing some kind of mine clearing operations back in ’02 that had those big Sea Stallion helicopters dragging some kind of device thru water. Sound carries real well over water. Might be it.

I had a somewhat similar thought; that the noise might somehow be connected to Fleet Week, which happens this weekend. Or, possibly, the arrival of the amphibious assault ship USS America in town on Monday morning, which could validate Neighbor John’s Navy helicopters-at-sea-level theory.

Neighbor Andy was on the scene to report the USS America’s arrival:

So, maybe that?

Or, a massive extraterrestrial spacecraft hovering over Bernal Hill. Possibly with a cloaking device.

UPDATE 5;17 pm: Neighbor Rusty did some field research, and he thinks the noise is definitely coming from the USS America:

I’m 99% certain it’s the USS America (LHA-6) which is docked at the end of Bryant street at Pier 32. It’s the same sonic signature that I hear from north Bernal. I drove down to Mission Rock and could hear it coming from the direction of the Bay Bridge. Drove down the Embarcadero and sure enough the sound was quite apparent over the sound of traffic right in front of where LHA-6 was docked.

Here’s a visual of USS America here, now, courtesy of Raul:

USS America (LHA-6)

And, a corroborating video!