Bernal Heights is changing.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Actually, Bernal Heights has been changing for about 180 years. Change is often difficult, yet my sense is that the changes that have taken place here during the last decade or so are particularly unsettling to the generation of residents that came of age in Bernal roughly between 1970 and 1990.
Neighbor Orlando is one of those residents, and since I have great respect for his perspective, I also appreciated his comments in response to a recent Bernalwood post about the transformation of Bernal Heights into an enclave for the so-called “Creative Class” (though he just as easily could have written it in response to the data which shows that Bernal real estate prices are going up, up, up.)
Bernal Heights originally was a village made up of blue collar, very low educated immigrant families that moved here because they could not afford to live in many other areas of the city. I bared witness to such because my parents were of this class as many of their neighbors also were.
The last time I checked, a home in this neighborhood sold for one-million dollars. This must have made my father roll over in his grave. No home on the hill was ever of such extreme value during the sixties up here. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite considering that the hill was a wasteland of debris due to the fact that many San Franciscans would use it as place to dumb old odd size household goods such as mattresses, ceramics tubs, toilets, and wooden furniture.
So rugged a hill it once was, that I as a young boy learned to ride a motorcycle; a honda 50cc that my father bought me one christmas “motorcross” style on many of the trails still visible today! Yes, you read rightly, one once was able to ride a motorcross cycle on that hill.
Todd, I am curious to ask you when was the last time you met a low income non-english speaking family move in recently? I believe you have met many of the original dwellers moving out since this is one of the overall goals of this recent gentrification that is popular for real estate values.
After all, is it not true that before such a movement (when bernal was predominantly made up of these uneducated, non-english speaking middle class families) the prices of homes were indeed affordable to someone whose job was to clean upper middle class homes or work as a baggage handler at SFO?
This is hardly the case when a home on the same property sells for one million dollars. The same block of land ten times more the costs simply because folks that clean houses or work as baggage handlers have recently moved away so that these creative scientist, lawyers, and managers can move in. Who by the way, are not likely to be of negro or hispanic ethnicity.
I only ask that if you truly cannot see this Todd, that the next time you meet the new family on the block, you check off my list to see if this new family fits the Bernal enclave that it once was for many, many generations. Myself included.
Good fodder for discussion. So, dear and respectful neighbors, let’s discuss.
PHOTO: A recent billboard modification on Cortland, photographed April 30, 2012 by Andrew