Baby Snake Greets Bernal Neighbor on Front Steps


Last night, Neighbor Kendall found a lurker on his front steps:

I came home from picking my daughter up from soccer around 6 pm and found this little baby on our front steps on the North Slope. We are aways away from any shrubbery so I’m not sure how she got here. But she climbed/slithered up several of our front steps. Some research indicates she’s a juvenile gopher snake. There’s no rattle. There must’ve been a hatching nearby. I wonder if other folks are seeing these little guys around? Super cute!

Let’s zoom and enhance for a closer look:



Posted in Animals, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

UPDATED: “Smart Car Tipping” Is a Thing, and It Happened in Bernal Heights Last Night



As you may know, “cow-tipping” is mostly at the stuff of rural legend. As Modern Farmer explains, “Cow tipping, at least as popularly imagined, does not exist. Drunk young men do not, on any regular basis, sneak into cow pastures and put a hard shoulder into a cow taking a standing snooze, thus tipping the poor animal over.”

That may be true. Yet here in Bernal, we have experienced a very real wave of Smart Car Tipping which has seen [probably drunk] young men sneaking onto quiet streets and putting a hard shoulder into parked Smart Cars, thus tipping the poor vehicles over.

Neighbor Dyche reports from the scene of a Smart Car Tipping incident last night:

The crack team at Bernalwood might already have heard this over the police scanner but, just in case: there has been a rash of Smart Car tippings in the neighborhood. The last count I heard was three. The first I heard of this phenomenon was a crash outside my front door followed by the sound of a vehicle racing away. I ran outside to find my neighbor’s Smart Car tipped on its side into the middle of the road. This occurred around 1:00 AM on the corner of Ogden and Anderson Streets. The car suffered what appears to be minor damage (including broken windows and side-view mirror. The Smart Car of my other neighbors remains, mercifully, untipped.

Please caution readers to look after their little buddies. If they can, maybe put them in the garage for a day or two.

Or the barn, if you have one. Meanwhile, KRON-TV reports on other incidents around Bernal and in the Portola:


Witness Brandon Michael says he was smoking a cigarette when one of the incidents happened near Bowdoin and Sweeny at about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

“All of a sudden I just see eight hooded figures walk up to the car,” Michael says. “I thought it looked like they were up to no good. And then sure enough they walk up to this smart car right here, all huddle around it, and then lift it up and set it on its hind legs.”

Michael says he thinks the whole thing is kind of silly but clearly an act of vandalism.

Police say witnesses report seeing similar vandalism on smart cars at about the same time just on the other side of I-280. One smart car ended up on its side at Anderson and Ogden while another was left on its roof a few blocks away at Anderson and Courtland.

UPDATE: Neighbor Brandon shares these photos of the fourth Smart Carnage incident on Prospect at Coso in Bernal:




PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Dyche. Below, KRON. Bottom, Neighbor Brandon

Posted in Cars, Crime | 29 Comments

New Happy Hour at Holy Water Happens After the Kids Go to Bed


Happy Hour is lovely, but it’s not exactly convenient. During those precious early evening hours, you’re probably either still at work, or walking your dog, or wrangling your kids, or cooking dinner, or walking the dog while wrangling the kids while cooking dinner, or some combination of the above. The point being, there’s a lot of stuff going on during the time when most bars want you to be drinky for Happy Hour, which makes it hard to be drinky.

In recognition of these grim realities, Holy Water, the drinktastic new bar on Cortland, has hit upon a rather clever idea: shift Happy Hour forward a few hours, make it start at 11 pm, and call it 11th Hour.

Holy Water’s website brings the details:

Welcome to the 11th hour. Starting at 11pm nightly, Holy Water will be featuring a rare and unique selection of offerings. These will only be available after 11pm and won’t be on the regular menu. Offerings will rotate nightly depending on availability.

We have sourced rare and unique beers only bottled in magnums. many of them specifically for Holy Water. We will start popping them only after 11pm and pour them off until they are gone. These won’t be your typical beers

We have been sourcing rare and exotic spirits/mixers/tinctures/etc. and this is our time to play around and experiment with them. Come down and help us try out new recipes and cocktails that won’t normally be offered before 11pm DISCLOSURE… we are experimenting here, so some things will be amazing, others not so much. customers won’t be obligated to pay for what they don’t enjoy.

This is your chance to stump the bartender, or try something new. Guests can pick 2 ingredients and the bartender will make you something amazing. Do you love honey and compari? tell the bartender and they will come up with a cocktail you will (hopefully) enjoy. Or just sit back and let them concoct something from their mental rolodex of drinks.

Sample a flight of single barrel selections from all of our sister bars Churchill, Bloodhound, Prize Fighter, Brass Tax. This ranges from bourbons to rums to beers.

Offerings change nightly. More selections are in the works and will be unveiled over time.

PHOTO: Holy Water

Posted in Food and Drink | 9 Comments

How to Have Breakfast in Guatemala Without Leaving Bernal Heights


Writing for SFWeekly, Eva Recinos shares a delicious discovery: The Universal Bakery on Mission Street right at the foot of Cortland does breakfast Guatemalan style, and they do it right. Eva writes:

Sweet bread is a ritual of sorts in Guatemala; many families stuff warm paper bags with hot sweet bread and take it home to devour with breakfast. Universal Bakery dishes up an especially stellar traditional Guatemalan breakfast. For $9, you can get a piping hot plate of black beans, cheese, sour cream, eggs, and sausage. If you don’t eat meat, you can get the same dish without sausage for $7. Each deal comes with bread or tortillas and a cup of coffee.

A few parts of Guatemalan breakfast differentiate it from your average breakfast dish. For one, the black beans are liquified until they reach a thin texture. The sour cream tastes a little more tart than the American version. The eggs should feel light and fluffy and the cheese should taste fresh.

Universal Bakery gets all of these important elements right. Each part comes together in the perfect combination. The creamy slab of cheese accentuates the rich flavor of the black beans. Dipping the eggs into the sour cream makes them even more savory. And the plate comes with enough black beans to scoop with a fork or pile onto a piece of desabrido.

PHOTO: Eva Recinos for SF Weekly

Posted in Food and Drink | 9 Comments

New Blog Documents Renovation of Old House on Bennington



Remember that sad house on Bennington Street that was offered for rent in November 2013 for the plutocratic sum of $9999 per month?

Unsurprisingly, no one took the then-landlord up on that offer. So a few weeks later, the home was put on the market. It was purchased by Neighbors Kiren, Caroline, and Jr. Neighbor Ravi, who are upsizing from a smaller home they currently occupy on the west side of Bernal Heights.

Neighbors Kiren, Caroline, and Jr. Neighbor Ravi are very excited about the new place, because, they say, “it has the space to keep us comfortable as our family grows [and] it keeps us in Bernal, which we adore.”


The new homeowners are well-aware of the structure’s, uh, “shortcomings,” and they entered into their purchase with eyes wide-open. Now, to make the tired old house feel more like home, they are preparing to undertake a full renovation, and blogging about it along the way:

Bernal Heights is a “special use district”, which means that it has its own zoning unique within San Francisco. It’s designed specifically to keep houses small – you can’t build over 35 feet high, over 45 feet from the front property line, rear yards must be proportionally larger, adding square footage requires adding extra parking spots, etc. So a major selling point for this house is that it already has good scale – we won’t need to expand it, which is onerous if not impossible in our neighborhood. The house was built in 1900, just before the earthquake. Unlike the Victorians of that era which San Francisco is famous for, this was a working class home, and what little adornment it had has been stripped away over the years. But that’s OK – for our taste, we find many victorians either oerly grand and imposing, or ornate and fussy. The house is built from tight-grained, old-growth lumber that you could only find a century ago. The wood is strong, resists rot, and is beautiful. But that’s about where the charm ends.

This house has been neglected for a long time. It is dark and dingy. The floors are so sloped, cover them with snow and you could go skiing on them. The fixtures are falling apart, there are frayed electrical wires popping up everywhere, water pools in the yard and garage, there’s termite damage in the front, the exterior stairs are crumbling, and the list goes on. The previous owner rented it out to seven people at a time – clumsily splitting the top and bottom floors, and installing an illegal kitchenette without any drainage or ventilation. The home achieved brief neighborhood fame (or infamy?) when the tenants left and the owner tried to rent it for a ludicrous sum (see our neighborhood blog, Why Oh Why Would This House Rent for $9995 a Month? for theories including it sitting on a diamond mine, or else including a vast rocket hanger and orbital launch facility.) Aside from the radically sloped floors, the house is structurally OK, but well outside of modern codes. The floor plan is dark and claustrophobic. No fixtures are worth saving.

But it’s in the neighborhood we love. And now it’s ours. So there’s nothing to do but to take it down to the studs, shore it up, and dream up something new to fill the empty shell.

Your Bernalwood editor read all this with great empathy and no small amount of deja vu, because our house was in a very similar state when we bought it in 2003. It was a mess, it smelled horrific, everything from the foundation to the sheetrock needed to be redone, and by the time we arrived there was no vintage “character” left to preserve. What followed was a top-to-bottom gut-and-remodel that retained just four elements of the original house: Three exterior walls, the wonderful Douglas Fir floors, the roof, and one tiny triangle of moulding on the stairway leading up to the bedrooms.

As proof, I submit as evidence this photo of my home, as it looked at the nadir of our renovation in July 2004, at the very moment when our lead contractor declared that he was withdrawing from the project to divorce his wife and launch a new career in marijuana cultivation:


On the bright side, it all turned out well, eventually, and now our Bernal house is a home we love.

Best of luck to the new homeowners on Bennington!

PHOTOS: Top, via Bernal Renovation blog. Bottom, by Telstar Logistics

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Saturday: Gun Buyback to Get Surplus Weapons Off Our Streets


Neighbor Sarah, Bernalwood’s official unofficial liaison to the San Francisco Police Department, brings news of the Ingleside gun-buyback event happening on Saturday:

Join us for a community-organized gun buyback this Saturday, April 5, 2014, 9am-2pm, at 2630 Bayshore Blvd. @ Sunnydale at the new Grocery Outlet store.

Receive up to $100 in cash for firearms, and up to $200 in cash for assault weapons. Totally anonymous; no questions asked. Bring guns in working condition. Drive up with guns in trunk of car.

Sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee; Supervisors Cohen, Campos, Avalos, Wiener, and Yee; Alive & Free; River of Life Church; SF Interfaith Council; CARECEN; SFPD; Gun by Gun.

Click for more information. Questions? Look right here.

Posted in Events, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Small Gesture of Parking Courtesy Rewarded with Generous Gift of Artisanal Canned Tuna


It was the kind of gesture that would come naturally to any proper Citizen of Bernalwood: The parking space in front of my home was available, and a blue Volkswagen station wagon was attempting to park there. But there was a glitch.

My car was parked right behind the Volkswagen, so to avoid bashing my front bumper, the Volkswagen driver left a big gap between their car and mine. Much appreciated, but as a result the nose of the Volkswagen crossed into the red-painted curb that marks the entrance to my next-door neighbor’s driveway. And she really doesn’t like that.

I gestured to the driver. “Hey,” I said. “You might want to back up a little bit. You can nudge my car, but my neighbor doesn’t like it when people park in the red zone.”

A great wave of relief flashed across the Volkswagen driver’s face, as if a deep source of anxiety had suddenly been erased. And so it was done: The Volkswagen backed up another foot or two, its rear bumper gently smooched the front of my car, and the red curb zone was cleared. Parking optimization complete!


I might have ended there, but the female passenger in the Volkswagen — a woman who, it must be said, bore a rather conspicuous resemblance to Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia — emerged from the vehicle and thanked me for helping them avoid a day-ruining parking ticket.

“Do you eat canned tuna?” she asked.

What?? Of course I eat canned tuna. Still, I advised her that I already have several cans of tuna on my pantry shelves, thankyouverymuch.

She was undaunted. “But this is very special canned tuna! We’re from Seattle, and we canned this tuna ourselves!” She pointed to the driver of the Volkswagen. “He caught it on his boat!”

Artisanal cans of tuna? With tuna from his boat? Right here in front of my house in Bernal Heights? Is this really happening? Have I become a character in a bourgeois urban parody?

She handed me two cans of tuna. “Eat it with the water in the can. It tastes best that way.”

The cute label identified it as Carol M Albacore tuna, containing tuna caught aboard the f/v Carol M:


This was also written on the label:

Carol M premium handpacked tuna was caught for you off the coast of Washington and Oregon. Cooked once in its own juices, it has a look and flavor you won’t soon forget. Wild Pacific Troll caught albacore is a highly sustainable fishery that complies with Marine Stewardship Council Certification, so enjoy this can with a guilt-free conscience. Captain Mike and our boat cat Florence also recommend you don’t drain the juice — it’s the best part! So from our boat to your table, enjoy!



I accepted the cans, and the Volkswagen remained in front of my house for another day.

Several days after that, I sampled the merchandise. The tuna was delicious and  guilt-free — just as promised.  And she was right: It tasted wonderful with the water in the can.

Posted in Parking, People | 29 Comments