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

Petition Process Underway to Create Residential Parking Permit Area for North Bernal


Though opinions on the wisdom of implementing Residential Parking Permit (RPP) in North Bernal appear to be polarized, a process is nevertheless underway to implement an RPP district in Precitaville and Santana Rancho.

SFMTA recently set up a dedicated page for North Bernal RPP planning.  It explains:

Residents of North Bernal, generally defined as the blocks south of Cesar Chavez Street and east of Mission Street, organized two widely advertised community meetings to educate the public about the residential permit process. Both were held at the Precita Neighborhood Center. The SFMTA presented information at both meetings describing the residential permit program so residents could make an informed decision on whether to support permit parking.

The next step in the RPP process is collecting signatures for the North Bernal Residential Permit Parking Petition.  SFMTA says the petition allows residents to express support or opposition to residential permit parking for their block.  To succeed, “the petition requires signatures from at least 250 households (or 50 percent of total households, whichever is less), and must contain a minimum of one mile of street frontage.”

How would the program would be implemented if the petition indicates that support for the proposed RPP is uneven from one North Bernal block to the next? That’s not entirely clear, though SFMTA says “the boundaries of the new resident permit parking area will include those blocks with a majority of households in support of permit parking.  This suggests that the initial rollout of a North Bernal RPP could be irregular from street to street and block to block, depending on how many households on each block signed the petition. (Academic question: Doesn’t this seem like a RPP version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, on a block-by-block basis?)

To learn more about the proposal, visit the SFMTA’s North Bernal Residential Parking Petition site, or email questions or concerns to

MAP: Existing RPP areas near North Bernal, via SFTMA

Tuesday Eve: See Neighbors, Eat BBQ, Meet Local Law Enforcement at National Night Out in Bernal Heights


Tomorrow evening, pack up the kids, bring an appetite, and head to the Bernal Rec Center behind the Library to meet some of the people who put the safety in Bernal’s public safety programs.

It’s time for the Bernal Heights edition of National Night Out, the nationwide program that seeks to build stronger ties between local communities and law enforcement. Neighbor Sarah shares the glamorous preview of what’s happening:

Join Your Neighbors on Tuesday, 8/4, for National Night Out at the Bernal Rec Center!

National Night Out, in its 32nd year, is designed to get neighbors out on a summer evening so they can meet each other, police and fire personnel, local organizations, and merchants – all with the goal of promoting community safety.

This year’s National Night Out celebration for the Ingleside Police District will be in Bernal Heights. Come out for a FREE BBQ dinner, lots of fun, kid-friendly activities, and a chance to learn from numerous organizations that will be tabling at the event. Join a neighborhood watch with SFSAFE; sign up for NERT training with the Fire Department; improve the safety of your block through environmental improvements like planting a tree with Friends of the Urban Forest.

Meet members of the city attorney’s office, the district attorney’s office, and Supervisor Campos’s staff to voice any concerns to them directly. Climb the SF Park rock climbing wall; jump in bouncy houses; play basketball with SFPD recruits. Visit the library to learn how it can be safe place for teens and tweens. Pick up the coveted 2015 edition of the Bernal Heights Safety Resource handout. Full details below:

Tuesday, August 4, 5-8pm
Bernal Heights Rec Center and Bernal Heights Library
500 Moultrie Street @ Jarboe Ave.

FREE BBQ dinner
Climbing wall
Jumpy houses
Arts & crafts
Safety resources
& More!

Exhibitors include SFSAFE, NERT, ALERT, the Department of Emergency Management, the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, the SF District Attorney’s Office, the SF City Attorney’s Office, Rec & Park, Friends of the Urban Forest, and the Bernal Heights Library.

Sponsors include SF POA, SFFD, Recology, Cordova Market, Mollie Stone’s, and the Boys and Girls Clubs.


YES! City Funds Secured to Restore Esmeralda Mini-Park


Nice work, people.

Thanks in no small part to your vigorous nagging activism, Supervisor David Campos’s office reports that City funds will be made available to restore the endangered trellis at the Esmeralda-Winfiend Mini Park:

We are thrilled to report that we were able to secure funding for replacement of the Trellis through the City’s budget process. Thank you so much for bringing this issue to our attention. It has been a pleasure to see to the neighborhood so united over a common treasure and we really appreciate your advocacy. DPW has assured us that as soon as the funding is allocated to the department, it will replace the Trellis. The original structure is set to come down next week. The final City Budget is approved on July 21st. We will be working closely with DPW to make sure the replacement structure is built as soon as possible.

That’s fantastic news, so let’s all join hands for a collective woo-hoo:


This is also a fitting tribute to the scrappy group of Bernal neighbors who rallied to build the trellis (and the secret Esmeralda slides!) in the first place, almost 40 years ago.

But who were these energetic Bernal ancestors? Who created the gift that is the Esmeralda-Winfield Mini-Park?

That’s them, in the world-famous photo up above.

Many Bernalese will recognize the photo, because to this day it stands as a defining symbol of Bernal Heights activism, engagement, volunteerism, and neighborly solidarity. The image is a magnificent time-capsule, so Bernalwood encourages you to zoom and enhance it at your leisure from the safety and comfort of your own computer screen to explore all the wonderful details it reveals.

The photo was taken in 1978, just as work on the slide and mini-park was wrapping up. Back then, Neighbor Michael Nolan was one of the chief organizers of the project, and you can see him in the photo on the far left:


Today Neighbor Michael still lives in Bernal, where is often seen leading the pom-pom squad for the Elsie Street Glee Club and contributing to the Bernal Heights History Project (among many other things):


To help modern-day Bernalese understand all the dedication and bureaucratic wrangling it took to create the Esmeralda Mini-Park in the first place, Bernalwood nagged asked Neighbor Michael to give us a behind-the-scenes view of the project’s creation-story:

In the wake of a fun-filled though unsuccessful run for District Supervisor in 1977, I threw my surplus civic energy into making the Esmeralda Mini-Park happen.

I won that campaign. The Northwest Bernal Block had worked mightily for years on the project, believing that between Precita and Holly Parks, there was no area for children to play. But various bureaucratic and legal snafus had stymied the project, even though there was sufficient city funding and support.

Getting the Board of Supervisors to “vacate” what was still officially a “street” and turn it into a park was crucial, because that’s what was required to limit the potential liability of adjoining homeowners and win their okay.

I convened a dedicated crew of nearby neighbors who worked with landscape architect Andrew Butler and Planning Department liaison Lu Blazej .  Tom Chiosso of DPW brought tools, materials, and community development grants from the City.

Bernal neighbors volunteered to prepare the land, build the double slide, erect a play structure, and install the planter boxes and trellis on the Winfield Landing.

We’d hoped that our popular Mayor George Moscone would inaugurate the double slide, but we lost him and Harvey Milk in the tragic assassinations of that fall. In early 1979, Mayor Dianne Feinstein and District 9 Supervisor Lee Dolson did the honors.

Here’s what that moment looked like, when Di-Fi took an inaugural slide:


So that brings us to today.

Though our funds are (fingers-crossed) secured, we still have a ways to go until the Esmeralda-Winfield Mini-Park is restored to its proper glory. Let’s stay focused, let’s stay engaged, and let’s do whatever it takes to make sure this mini-park remains glorious for another 40 years.

City Plans to Demolish Trellis at Esmeralda/Winfield Mini Park, Has No Plan to Rebuild



The delightful Esmeralda/Winfield Mini Park is suffering from old age, and an indifferent City bureaucracy has no plans to keep the mini-park in proper order. In fact, the City plans to tear down part of the park in coming days. Eeek!

This will be a great loss for Bernal Heights, so Neighbors Nancy and Joan catch us up on what’s happening, and how you can help:

The wooden structures at the MiniPark were built with community input in the late 1970s. The structures haven’t been maintained, leaving them to deteriorate into their current state.

Now the trellis is slated to be removed within a week! The planter box surrounding the big pepper tree is also due to be removed, timeline unknown. The remaining picnic table and benches haven’t been mentioned as part of the takedown, but they have rot as well.

With a kick-ass slide, a stairway that goes up to Bernal Hill, and a place to sit, rest and hang, the MiniPark is a real gem in our neighborhood. It needs a serious upgrade, but the City hasn’t committed any funds or created any plans other than a piecemeal teardown. SF Public Works sent out a memo to the neighborhood saying:


Without our pressure on the City to make the rebuild a priority, the plaza will slowly disappear or be fixed in a haphazard fashion.

Please send an email NOW, to Supervisor David Campos at telling him his office needs to look into funding the replacement of the deteriorated structures at the Winfield/Esmeralda MiniPark.

Look for future Bernalwood posts to let you know how to stay involved.

This is sad and bad.

As a historical reminder, this announcement from 1979 tells us much about the community origins of the Winfield Mini-Park, and how the City once paired with Bernal neighbors to help make the park so lovely. Let’s hope that can happen again:

Esmeralda Mini-Parkflier020379

PHOTO: Neighbors Nancy and Joan

This Is The City’s Plan for New Crosswalks and Stop Signs on Bernal Hill (and How It Could Be Improved)


Do you remember that City meeting a few weeks back to review the proposed pedestrian-safety changes to the intersection of Bernal Heights Boulevard and Bernal Heights Boulevard at the southeastern side of the hill, near the glamorous Vista Pointe Minipark? Well, Neighbor Tom attended the meeting, and took great notes, and made some spiffy diagrams of new crosswalks and new stop signs, and he thinks the current proposal needs revision. Neighbor Tom says:

First, the facts:

Three Bernal residents spoke, of which I was one. No diagrams were presented or handed out, but two of us were able to look at a diagram (by request) before the meeting started.

Of the three that spoke, all approved of making some improvements. Two of us approved of the stop signs, one felt it unnecessary, but the crosswalk is good. As far as I could tell, there was no resolution on this, just the hearing of opinions.

I created a sketch of the plans from memory. (I don’t like recreating drawings from memory, because it’s inaccurate, but if they’re not going to give handouts, then…)

The yellow parts are roughly what their plans showed. Here’s a version of the diagram with other colors added by me to illustrate my personal opinion.


My opinion is:

1. Locating the crossing at C will encourage people to walk the red path, with leads to a tricky crossing of Bradford (where a stop cannot be added, due to the #67 bus).

2. Locating the crossing at B instead would encourage the green route, which benefits from the pre-existing ‘stop’ on Bradford, and could be further improved by a cross walk.

The MTA say that the crossing must be located at C, since that’s where Parks and Rec have decided to put stairs.

Yes, stairs! I’m opposed to the stairs, since they will lead users to further steep loose ground, which they then have to ascend (or turn back). They therefore violate the principle of “don’t trick people into thinking they’re safe.”  I’m informed that the stairs will help reduce erosion. I suspect they’ll do the opposite – they’ll encourage more people to take the route.


New Urban Agriculture Project Coming to College Hill Reservoir Site


The Examiner recently brought news that the land next to the College Hill reservoir near Holly Park will soon become the pilot site for a new urban agriculture initiative. Reporter Mike Koozmin writes:

San Francisco residents four years ago called for more urban agriculture space in The City, prompting a pilot program that is now beginning to bear fruit.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission announced Tuesday that a new garden site is expected to open this summer in Bernal Heights and another site in Crocker-Amazon could be built out late next year. A planned community garden in Bayview-Hunters Point at the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant was scrapped and instead gardening supplies were offered there and other locations.

Urban agriculture supporters in San Francisco have long looked to the SFPUC to show more leadership on the issue given its vast open-space portfolio.

Interest in the cultivation of land by residents is evident by at least one measurement. Last year, there were 750 people on a waiting list to use community gardens in the Recreation and Park Department’s portfolio. The department oversees 38 community gardens, which average about a quarter of an acre in size. It also has 33 garden plots and serves 53 gardeners. The SFPUC set timelines for when the Bernal Heights and Crocker-Amazon space will become active agriculture sites. The sites were selected in 2012 for an urban agriculture pilot program, which relates to broader issues of food security and climate change.

The College Hill Learning Garden in Bernal Heights is out for competitive bidding and is expected to become operational in the summer. In partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, the 6,000-square-foot site will provide lessons for kindergarteners through fifth-graders. The site will include a bioinfiltration basin, rain gardens, green roofs and a composting toilet.

IMAGE: Google Earth