Don’t Panic, But Two Trees Were Removed from Bernal Hill Yesterday


Yesterday Bernalwood received an alarming news flash via our Twitter red phone: A work crew was hard at work on the top of Bernal Hill near Sutrito Tower,  chopping down some of the trees.


We dispatched the Bernalwood Action News Satellite Uplink Miata to rush to the scene. When we arrived, the work crew was already gone, but two freshly cut stumps were all that remained of the former trees.


Sadness! Confusion! Anxiety!

Bernal Hill is public parkland, so Bernalwood reached out to San Francisco Rec and Park see if they could explain what the f*&^$#*ck had just happened. Connie Chan, Rec and Park’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, responded with this statement:

As we have already mentioned earlier in September, the Department has been in the construction planning process to renovate and improve the Bernal Heights Trails. In the meantime, we are working with a contractor to complete abatement work for a few trees that were assessed as potential hazards.

Two dead trees near the top of the hill are expected to be removed (their branches were already removed by our staff to minimize hazardous conditions), and one Evergreen Ash tree on the west slope of the hill is planned to be pruned to remove or reduce the length of the stem with decay.

As you can see on the map shown via the web link, the red circles are the the two removals, and the tree still to be pruned is the yellow circle.

Bernal_Tree Work map.pdf

Okay, that’s good to know. Rec and Park didn’t exactly do a great job of proactive outreach beforehand, so our collective panic was perhaps to be expected. Nevertheless, we’re glad to know the tree removals atop Bernal Hill are now complete, so we trust there will be no more unpleasant surprises in the days and weeks ahead.

Oh yeah, and PS: All this is happening as part of the Bernal Hill Trail Improvement Plan we told you about waaaaaaaaaaay back in 2012.

PHOTOS: Top, @BernalJournal. Stumps by Telstar Logistics

Bernal Artist Offers Handy, Handmade Moon Calendars For 2016


After our spooky moon sightings and a super rare bloodmoon, it’s already been a great lunar year. Luckily, Neighbor Annie on Precita near York has been making moon calendars for the past five years, and she recently cooked up a new batch.

Wolf moon! Snow moon! Sturgeon moon! Beaver moon! Who knew there were so many moons?

Neighbor Annie says:

I originally began making these calendars as holiday gifts for loved ones when I moved here from Canada five years ago. They were so popular that I kept doing it, changing the design each time since I knew I wouldn’t want to look at the same calendar every year. Plus, it keeps it fun! This year, I was looking to give it a bit of an art nouveau/architectural feel. I hope it reads that way!

If you’re in the neighbourhood and you want to do a local pick up, just send me a message and we can arrange one.

Alternatively, you can also pick them up on her online store. They’re two-color screenprints that measure 16×20 inches — plenty big enough to ensure you’ll never to miss another full moon again. Plus, they’ll look great on the wall of your personal observatory.

PHOTO: via Annie Axtell

Meet the Community from the Mosque and Islamic Center on Crescent



The Mosque and Islamic Center of San Francisco Waqf on Crescent and Andover has long been a fixture in South Bernal, but we seldom hear much about it.  In fact, it’s the oldest mosque in the Bay Area, as well as the second-oldest mosque in all of Northern California. Plus, four stars on Yelp! Who knew?

David Young, Bernalwood’s newest correspondent, recently reached out to Zishan Safdar, a Bernal native and lifelong attendee of the mosque, to learn more about this unassuming neighborhood institution:

Bernalwood: How long the mosque has been around?

Zishan: The Islamic Center of San Francisco (ICSF) was founded in 1959. It was founded when many brothers of the community decided that they, as Muslims, needed a place to pray and establish a foundation for the future generations. It’s the first mosque in the City of San Francisco, the first mosque in the Bay Area, and the second mosque in the entire Northern California. (The first is in Sacramento.)

The Islamic Center is a waqf. What does that mean?

Taken from Google, Waqf is defined as, “an endowment made by a Muslim to a religious, educational, or charitable cause.” Waqf in the Arabic language means to stop, contain, or preserve. So when this word is attached to the mosque or any religious institution, it also means that specific building can never be donated as a gift, inherited, or sold.

What about the community of Muslims who make up the mosque? Where are they from?

The community members who attend the mosque are from various backgrounds — including myself. I was born and raised in Bernal Heights on Cortland and Nebraska!

We have other members from India, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen, and even Saudi Arabia. A majority of the members are San Francisco residents, including a good handful from Bernal Heights; a lot of commuters also drop by throughout the day to offer their prayers. There are a lot of converts who attend the mosque as well, including a few African-American converts and a Latino convert.

Besides daily prayers, what sort of events are held at the mosque?

Other than daily prayers, the mosque also hosts weddings, classes for both adults and children, Taraweeh prayers (prayers offered only during the month of Ramadan, the month Muslims fast in), the two Eid prayers, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, and also funeral services.

The mosque is also a hangout spot, especially for commuters who choose to come in and relax while waiting for the traffic to die-down, or who simply want to hang out between the prayers to enjoy some tea. There are also many youth programs, including monthly trips, dinners, and sporting events.

How would you describe the mosque’s place in the local Islamic community?

ICSF plays a major role in the Muslim community. Not only is it a place of worship, it’s also a community center for its attendees. Along with religious classes, which are offered to adults and children, we also have people from different professions who act as guidance counselors for anyone seeking advice. The mosque is a means for people to stay in touch as well; knowing you’ll have a shoulder to lean on when you’re in need is one of the most beautiful things we have to offer.

We focus a lot on the youth, too, and do our best to guide them to get the best of educations, be the best person they can be, and help them out if they’re facing any problems, whether it be family trouble, drugs, etc. We recently added a basketball court in the back of the mosque, too. There have also been tutoring sessions for students who need help with homework and we, as the elders in the community, try our best to guide the upcoming generation, both in terms of secular studies and religious studies.

What about the mosque’s role in Bernal?

The mosque plays a major role in the Bernal community as well. One of things I love most about San Francisco is how diverse it is, and, aside from all the awesome cultural food you’ll find in the city, you have people from many religious backgrounds here.

There are many churches in the Bernal Heights community and, as part of cultural diversification, it’s crucial to have a mosque to show the rest of the world how welcoming we are, regardless of one’s background.

ICSF  —or any mosque for that matter — isn’t only limited to the people who follow the Islamic faith. Mosques are open to everyone, regardless of their background or religion, and at ICSF we always welcome everyone with open hearts.

I’d like to stress: We’d love to have more people from the Bernal community drop by the mosque to learn more; we’re always open to visitors! We’d love to have a “community night” at ICSF if the Bernal Height community is interested. I think it would be an amazing event where everyone could get to know each other and just have a good time.

PHOTOS: Top, Zishan Safdar. All photos by David Young for Bernalwood

Hundreds Gather on Bernal Hill to Watch Supermoon Eclipse, Have Close Encounter



At sunset last night, a massive crowd of hundreds of people gathered on Bernal Hill to watch a once-in-a-generation event: a supermoon lunar eclipse. PBS Newshour explained what the fuss was all about:

Sunday night, the sun, earth and a full moon will be in a straight line, making the moon, which is in its closing point of orbit, appear much brighter than usual. This phenomenon, referred to as “supermoon” total lunar eclipse, hasn’t happened in 33 years and won’t for another 18 years.

Basically, at the very moment when the moon’s orbit put it closest to Earth (making it a supermoon), the moon, Earth, and the sun were also arranged in a line (creating an eclipse). This gave the big moon a creepy red color, which is why lots of people also call this a “bloodmoon” (or, in the contemporary argot, #bloodmoon).

Like many others, Neighbor Susie was drawn to Bernal Hill to watch the spectacle, and she shared this photo of the scene:


Here’s a panorama perspective from Neighbor Art:


For all the celestial pilgrims who stuck around, it was well worth the wait. Neighbor Rusty shot this image from Holliday Street:


The super-duper blood moon was amazing. Yet later in the evening, things got even more intense. Here’s some EXCLUSIVE footage of what happened at Sutrito Tower shortly after the bloodmoon eclipse reached its apex:

UPPER PHOTOS: Top, supermoon, Sept 27, by Rusty Hodge. Middle, crowd on Bernal Hill by Fred Sharples. Bottom, supermoon over Bernal as seen from Billy Goat Hill, by Charlie.

Graffiti Removed, For Now, as Sutrito Tower Facility Gets a Coat of Paint

Sutrito Tower post-graffiti removal

Sutrito Tower has long been plagued by graffiti — not street art, not murals, just ugly, boring tags.

American Tower, which owns the facility, occasionally paints over it, but the company recently allowed some of the tags to linger for a long time. There’s one that says “TRUST NO HOE!” (charming) in this picture from January 2014 that was still there until very recently: IMG_0806

Now, it’s all gone. There’s new fencing, upgraded security lighting, and even barbed wire around most of the perimeter, which isn’t very attractive. Yet it might be worth it, if it actually keeps the taggers out.

If it doesn’t (which seems likely, given this site’s history), why not get rid of the fencing entirely? Like it was when Sutrito Tower was first built, in 1963.

Removing the fence would take the “adventure” out of tagging this building, and make it convenient for neighbors to paint over it without waiting years for American Tower to get around to cleaning up the mess.

Sutrito Tower post-graffiti removal

PHOTOS: Joe Thomas

Modern Druids Host Solstice Feast on Bernal Hill




It was the kind of feast that would have made the ancient Bernal druids proud.

Last night, on the evening of the solstice, a group of very resourceful, very tasteful friends hosted a proper dinner party on Bernal Hill, complete with white tablecloths, linen napkins, and porcelain plates.

A photo analysis by the Bernalwood Culinary Observation Team reveals that the menu included a fresh garden salad with feta and asparagus, accompanied by salmon served on a bed of orzo and lemon. Spa water with fresh berries was also provided. Solstice flower crowns were a fashion essential, and of course, the view was magnificent.

Bravo and well done, people. This looks delicious.

PHOTOS: Top two by @ohappyday; Bottom, Guillaume Lebleu