Your July 2015 Crime Report: Home Burglaries and Auto Smash-and-Grab Thefts Are Way Up

The video above shows the infuriating spectacle of an organized auto smash-and-grab ring smashing-and-grabbing from a car parked on Bocana yesterday.

We’ll get to the details of that in just a moment… but first, the valiant Neighbor Sarah attended the monthly Ingleside SFPD community meeting last week, and she shares these notes on the latest Bernal Heights crime trends:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting
July 21, 2015

– Lt. Struckman has been sent to Property to work on high-profile issue of clearing backlog of rape kits.
Ingleside is now down to two lieutenants. at station; Lt. Burke was moved from investigations to patrol/nights.
– Ingleside expects new lieutenants and sergeants this fall
– Police redistricting happened, but it did not affect Ingleside

Rob Rueca – he is the permits officer at Ingleside station
Archie Wong – new neighborhood DA at station;, 415-551-9813

Burglaries of autos and homes WAY up across city
SFPD thinks this has to do with Prop 47, which passed last year
+40% in burglaries in Ingleside YTD
+19% in auto burglaries YTD

Captain attributed this to a mix of organized criminals who know exactly how to work around the laws – including Ghost Town gang from Oakland – and opportunistic crimes by individuals with drug problems.
For example, gang members send one person out to break all the car windows on a block. Second person comes 30 minutes later and grabs stuff from inside. That way, it’s separates crimes – one vandalism, one theft. Also keeps property stolen by one person under the $900 felony threshold.

Ghost Town has been hitting SF, San Bruno, Palo Alto, Oakland, Santa Clara. Also, some auto burglars break the window to trigger car alarm, knowing most people just turn it off… which then lets them get in very easily

Home burglaries – Occur mostly between 10am and 2pm
Nosy neighbors and dogs are best deterrents. SFPD encourages setting up neighborhood watch, and always report suspicious activity to 553-0123 (crime in progress: 911). Explain why the activity is suspicious and give good details if you can do so without endangering yourself (plate #, etc).

Ingleside recently stopped a ring of street robberies, which have also been up.

Grocery Outlet in Visitacion Valley had a takeover robbery – police IDed people from video, but victims could not ID them, so not arrested

Always file a report – it helps the police connect crimes.

Trying to get horses and motorcycle officers in McLaren Park – crime picks up later in the day there

SFPD recently did a traffic sting focused on not yielding to pedestrians at Mission/Oliver – 38 citations in 1.5 hours. Doing more traffic stings along Mission corridor, so be advised.


This year’s National Night Out will be held in Bernal Heights at the Bernal Rec Center and Bernal Library!
Next week – Tues, Aug 4, 5-8pm

Free BBQ, jumpy houses, rock climbing wall, games, arts & crafts, giveaways. safety resources, and more
Meet your neighbors, have fun, and find out ways to promote community safety
Exhibiting organizations include the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Bernal Library, NERT, ALERT, Rec & Park, SFSAFE, Department of Emergency Management, SFPD, SFFD, & more
Sponsors include SF POA, SFFD, Recology, Cordova Market, Boys & Girls Clubs, and more

Next SFPD Ingleside meeting – 8/18, 7pm, at St. Aidan’s Church, 101 Goldmine in Diamond Heights right near DH Safeway. Lots of parking available.

PRESENTATION BY Auxiliary Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

Modeled on SF NERT, this group trains team to assist law enforcement in the event of disaster – directing traffic, answering phones, working with officers to check areas for looting, assist at reunification centers, etc.
Will respond based on need to any of 10 stations, so if 1989-style quake happened today, basically all volunteers would have been sent to Marina; ALERT is not neighborhood-focused like NERT. To participate:
Must do NERT certification first – 20 hours
ALERT training – additional 8 hours
Must complete background check before doing ALERT training
3 training classes in 2015
More information here

Okay, so now let’s get back to the sad car break-in video shown above.

As Neighbor Sarah mentioned, auto break-ins are way up all over San Francisco, and they appear to be increasingly organized. This video shows just what that looks like. Neighbor Scott tells Bernalwood:

When I went to my car this morning, July 27,  I noticed my neighbor’s car had been vandalized. Attached is a video of the perpetrator – from him casing the neighborhood, to selecting a car, to calling his accomplice, to looting my neighbor’s car.
My father-in-law’s car was broken into Saturday night so I’m hoping you can let everyone know – especially on Bocana Street – that we are the “street-de-jour” for the smash-and-grab crowd.
Also, I called SFPD, and since it wasn’t my car that was broken into, I can’t file a police report. I sent the video to the Ingleside police station anyway.
If we find out who’s car it was, I’d be happy to talk to the police with them. This happened to me two months ago – I feel their pain!


Tonight: Mysterious Meeting to Establish Parking Permits for North Bernal

nebernalmysterysign2 Neighbor MM spotted handbills from the so-called “Northeast Bernal Parking Alliance” drifting around Precitaville. Apparently, there’s a meeting tonight, Tuesday, July 28 at 7 pm at the Precita Valley Neighborhood Center to discuss a proposal to turn much of North Bernal into an official Residential Permit Parking (RPP) zone. Neighbor MM writes:

Perhaps you have seen these around? I am always a little suspicious about things like this with no email address or URL, and I can’t find anything online when I search Northeast Bernal Parking Alliance. Which leads me to believe this is the work of one irate neighbor who is about to ruin things for all of us. My opinion: While I’ve noticed some parking problems, notably neighbors leaving their cars in the same spot for weeks or months on end, people need to realize that once you call in the DPT – there is no undo. Sure one person from Google might get a ticket, but once the DPT begins patrolling the streets and marking up cars, we the residents will get the bulk of the tickets. Nearly every driveway on my street sports at least 20 cars that are parked in driveways and are kind of sort of a little bit blocking the sidewalk. Ticket! When we go away and have relatives housesit? Ticket! A friend from another neighborhood coming by for lunch and a long walk? Can’t park here! I lived in the Mission prior to Bernal and residents fought to get two hour parking on our street and I didn’t think much about it – until I realized my car was registered in San Mateo, not San Francisco, and I couldn’t get a permit. It was a huge pain for me, and all the things I mentioned above happened. It is not worth it. It is already illegal to park for more than 72 hours and that takes care of the big problems. People parking for the day? Shrug. In many cases it is merely an exchange. I leave and drive to work and someone takes my place, leaves at the end of the day and I take it back. It’s okay. I’ll go to this meeting but I urge people to consider what it means when the DPT starts patrolling. YOU get the ticket, not some imaginary bus riding tech worker from the Marina.

Hmmm. We do wonder: Why does the graphic on the handbill include so many question marks? Who is the “Northeast Bernal Parking Alliance?” Who are they allied with? Is this another one of those Ron Conway organizations that seeks to further gentrify San Francisco? Or is it instead the leading edge of yet another imperialist Calle24 plot to annex North Bernal and transform it into a private parking preserve? To get answers to these and other questions, attend the meeting tonight: NORTHEASTBERNAL_MEETING_FLYER-5

Register NOW to Sell Your Treasure at the 2015 Bernal Heights Hillside Garage Sale

Bernal Hill from Billy Goat Hill Park

Attention, all ye Bernalese pack-rats with the urge to purge! The 2015 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale happens on August 8 — less than two weeks from today, so now is the time to register your address to appear on the high-tech 2015 Hillside Garage Sale Treasure Map.

Hillwide Garage Sale co-organizer and Neighbor Michael Minson explains how to participate:

I’m pleased to announce the website is now live and ready to accept registrations for the great garage sale of 2015 taking place on Saturday, August 8 from 9 am -2 pm.

Hillwide is a San Francisco tradition, and a fabulous way for our Hillbabies to unload their crap, clear their clutter, and otherwise rightsize their lives both for cash and existential bliss.

The Hillwide is arguably the largest single day garage sale in San Francisco. Last year, we raised $1,860 for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center strictly from map registrations. This year, our goal is to beat that like a vintage rug from grandma’s earthquake cottage.

If you’ve been hankering for a cleansing, drink a kale juice smoothie and clean out the deepest corners of your garage, basement, bonus room or creepy storage place.

Register your treasure trove and make your donation to the BHNC via the world-famous Internet at

Then just open your garage door on Saturday, 8-August, put on some funky grooves and pour yourself a mimosa (or three), because Hillwide is on!

The Hillwide elves will promote the event across the city and bring the masses to your doorstep. But you have to register for the plundering masses to find you.

Read This: Writerly Bernal Heights Couple Rocks Today’s NYTimes


Oh hey! Need some great Sunday reading? The dynamic husband-and-wife duo of Ellsworth neighbors Elizabeth Weil and Daniel Duane have a terrific husband-and-wife pair of articles in today’s New York Times.

Read Neighbor Liz’s explanation of why San Francisco bagels suck, and why there’s hope for a better bagel future!

Read Neighbor Dan’s article on the growing popularity of rock climbing and climbing gyms!

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Finally!! Reality TV Show Tells America That Bernal Heights Is a “Crap Neighborhood”


To those who fret that Bernal Heights has become too safe, too comfortable, too nice, too fetishized, and too bourgeois, we bring some fantastic news: According to a popular reality TV show, Bernal Heights is too ghetto!


Bravo network’s Million Dollar Listing San Francisco is a reality TV series about slick realtors hustling to sell high-value homes. It’s a Jersey Shore-style drama, only with less tawdry beach sex and more granite countertops. About a million Americans watch the show each week, and on Wednesday night’s episode, one of the more oily realtors was having a tough time selling a home in a “crap neighborhood” called Bernal Heights.

Our Bernalphile friends at CurbedSF explain what happened next:

This week’s episode of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco was the most entertaining of the series so far, but possibly only because it was so completely, utterly filled with plot lines that bear no resemblance to the real world. Unlike last week’s show, there were plenty of new houses to gawk at this time around, and the realtors themselves seemed to fade into the background a bit. The best story line of all was one in which Bernal Heights—the same Bernal named the hottest neighborhood in the whole country by Redfin last year, the Bernal where houses are snatched from the market for hundreds of thousands over asking in mere days—was made out to be a quasi-ghetto where buyers were so turned off that they didn’t even bother to show up for open houses.

The Bernal plot line kicks off when Andrew gets a listing at 535 Gates Street. It’s a classic Bernal flip, and developer Anders Kang has spent $500,000 renovating the property. He wants $2 million, but Andrew talks him down to listing for $1.8 million. “This is not Pacific Heights,” he explains. “This is Bernal Heights, meaning this is going to be a challenge.” Is he living in the 1990s or something? His only challenge should be how to fit prospective buyers into the place for an open house.

Andrew sets up several private showings, only to be blown off by nearly all of the buyers. “Hey Andrew, couldn’t find a buyer for Bernal Heights,” one agent texts. “Let me know if you have something in Noe Valley.” We concede that there are some less-than-ideal things about the property’s location. It sits on the south side of Bernal, which is less sought after than the north side. Neighbors have chickens and curtains for windows, and an adjacent house is covered in peeling paint. “We’ve got a great house in a crap neighborhood,” Andrew explains to a colleague. “What have you seen there?” she asks. “A couple of drug deals?” he answers flippantly. Enough already! This is Bernal! And the house is two blocks from the heart of Cortland Avenue and about a five-minute walk to Holly Park.

There’s a whole bit where Andrew realizes that maybe there are some local tech shuttle stops but cannot find any. Then, the segment wraps up with Justin appearing at Andrew’s open house to say that he couldn’t bring any of his tech buyers over because the listing is on the wrong side of Bernal. By this point, we were laughing so hard at the depiction of Bernal as a wasteland that we didn’t even catch whatever the drama between Andrew and Justin was.

Ohmigod!! Right??

And it gets even better: Some people on Twitter confirm that it sucks here!

Others say Bernal is just rough around the edges:

Some believe the fundamentals don’t make any sense:

While other are just plain cynical:

Still, all in all, this might well be the best thing to happen to Bernal’s street cred since that Bigfoot sighting in 2012.

It’s official: We’re rough. We’re edgy. We’re out of the way. Techies think we are squalid. This week, a million Americans learned that respectable, high-achieving people want nothing whatsoever to do with Bernal Heights. Which, of course, can only mean…



PHOTO: Top, 535 Gates via SFMLS

Bernalwood Editor Reveals Many Secrets in Neighbor Blake’s “Half-Hour Intern” Podcast


Neighbor Blake Fetcher lives in the upper altitudes of Prentiss Street, where he also produces a podcast called Half-Hour Intern. Neighbor Blake explains that it is…

A podcast about people. Their jobs. Their hobbies. Their passions. And real world advice for how you can get started. My name is Blake Fletcher and I love learning about the world around me. I want to learn from the experiences of every day people telling their stories about Who they are, What they do, How they got started, Why they do it, and What advice they would give to somebody that wanted to get started. Along the way I hope to help people pick up a new hobby… maybe even a new career!

In previous episodes, Neighbor Blake has interviewed a vascular surgeon, a professional dancer, a tour manager, and a skydiver. With no one interesting left to interview, he recently invited me, your lowly Bernalwood editor, to be a guest on his show.

That episode is now live, and if you tune your streaming audio player to Neighbor Blake’s show, you will learn:

  • Why did Bernalwood get started?
  • Where did the name “Bernalwood” come from?
  • Why should you never ask your Bernalwood editor for career advice?
  • What is the secret force that makes Bernalwood sustainable?
  • Who are Bernalwood’s very best reporters?
  • What is a Bernalwood story — and what is not?
  • Why does your Bernalwood editor feel so well-compensated?

You can listen to the episode for free, right here via an iTunes near you.

Thanks to Neighbor Blake for the fun conversation, and thanks to all of Bernalwood’s readers for all the things you do.

Old Bus Tavern, a Clever, Creative New Brewpub in Bernal, Opens Tonight



Big news: The Old Bus Tavern (3193 Mission @Valencia), the new Southwestern-style brewpub that’s been in the works for months, opens for business tonight, Thursday July 23.

Your Bernalwood editor attended a glamorous preview dinner at Old Bus last night, but we’ll tell you more about that in a moment. First, let’s hear what the local fooderati are saying about this new addition to our neighborhood.

Writing for InsideScoop, here’s Sarah Fritsche:

The creation of partners and long-time friends, Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky and Bennett Buchanan, the unusually named brewpub Old Bus Tavern (named after Zirinsky’s 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia bus) is finally set to open its doors this Thursday (July 23).

Late last week, the trio were kind enough to give Inside Scoop a pre-opening peek at what to expect from the new Bernal Heights restaurant and brewery.

When you walk through the door, the first thing you notice is the gleaming, and open to the dining room, custom brewery made for the restaurant by Portland Kettleworks. Both Zirinsky and Buchanan, who began as avid home brewers eight years ago, will oversee the beer program. […]

Aside from the brew kettles, the other main focal point in the 49-seat dining room, which is designed by Sarah Greenwood Design (Greenwood also happens to be Zirinsky’s mother), is a collection of antique Navajo rugs that decorate the walls.

The rugs belong to Zirinsky’s uncle, who has been collecting Native American art and artifacts since the 1970s. “He’s had these rugs in storage for 25 years, so my mom had the idea, why don’t we ask Tom if we can take the rugs out of storage and put them up on the walls? It’s great to have a personal family connection, but also it just looks cool together,” says Zirinsky.

The Southwestern motif also carries over to the cocktails and food.

That’s a key thing to understand about Old Bus: They have a serious Southwestern thing going on, with an emphasis on the “serious.” But more about that in a moment, really, because headline of Thrillist’s story says the Old Bus “could be the best SF opening of the year”:

Located in Bernal Heights, this casual brewpub serves game changing drinks and eats in a cool, friendly atmosphere. Chef Max Snyder worked in four Michelin-starred restaurants before coming to Old Bus and offers way-elevated pub fare like pickled quail eggs served on a bed of fried onions. The beers are awesome, from the Old Bus Tavern Lemon Basil Saison to their OBT Chili Porter, which is brewed with Valrhona cocoa nibs and 60lbs of roasted Poblano chiles. Cocktails aren’t to be missed either…really, you should just order everything on the menu.

Zagat is excited too. So is SFist. So is Tablehopper.

Okay, yeah, so a whole lot of people who don’t live in Bernal Heights say they are excited about this new place in Bernal Heights. But as a card-carrying Citizen of Bernalwood, with Old Bus Tavern at your doorstep, should you be excited about the place too?

Oh hell yes.

The team that created the Old Bus has worked incredibly hard to make it happen, and the results of their effort are impressive. During last night’s glamorous preview dinner, your Bernalwood editor remarked that the interior of the space is warm and interesting. It’s modern and refined, with an unmistakable southwestern vibe. In fact, that basically describes every aspect of The Old Bus Tavern: modern and refined, with an unmistakable southwestern vibe.


I did a robust exploration of a few signature cocktails, and they were terrific.

One clever standout was the OBT (with tequila, orange curaçao, lime, and a homemade poblano pepper syrup). It’s like a craft margarita with a spicy kick that lends itself to slow-paced sipping. Loved it.


The beer program is just getting up to speed, with an Old Bus Lemon Basil Saison on tap now. A homebrew Opening Day IPA and Chili Porter are expected to be ready later in the week. And all of it is made right onsite, in the kettles near the center of the dining room:


Otherwise, you can also get any of this:


The food was much more ambitious than I’d expected — divey cuisine, this is not. The pickled quail eggs with fried onions was sublime. The chilled eggplant soup tasted like something that came from Santa Fe by way of Cairo. The onion spaetzel was creative and fresh. The chili with pequin chiles was tender, rich, and intense:



Here’s the full menu. NOTE: Before snarking about the prices, please read the fine print: “Service and tax are included in all of our menu prices; no tipping is necessary. Our revenue sharing system allows us to pay our entire staff a living wage.”

Oh, and did I mention that it opens to the public tonight? As with any new restaurant, expect a few bumps at first, but Bernalwood recommends trying out the Old Bus Tavern sooner rather than later, because this place probably won’t be a local secret for very long.

Big congrats to the Old Bus Team, and welcome to the neighborhood.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics