Campos Concedes Defeat in State Assembly Race as New Day Brings New Opportunities


The Duel of the Dual Davids has reached its conclusion, and there can be only one.

After a few days of nail-biting uncertainty, our D9 Supervisor and Bernal Heights neighbor David Campos has conceded to David Chiu in the battle for the District 17 State Assembly seat.

The Campos concession came via Facebook:

A few moments ago I called David Chiu to congratulate him on his win in the Assembly race.

As I write this my thoughts are with Supervisor Harvey Milk. Forty-two years ago Harvey made a similar call when he lost his own race for the 17th Assembly district by fewer then 4,000 votes. It was one of many races that Harvey lost, in fact he was only a supervisor for 11 months before his murder. And yet the message that is most associated with him is that of hope. Right now my heart is filled with hope.

This is a time of great change in our city. And through this campaign we have sent a powerful message that the people of San Francisco are alive, spirited, and ready to fight for our values and way of life. We made clear that we love this city, refuse to be pushed out and are a force to be reckoned with.

Hmm. That’s what politicians say at moments like this, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Indeed, the results of this election suggest the exact opposite.

Supervisor Campos carried the torch for San Francisco’s progressive movement. Yet this week, notwithstanding Bernal Heights, San Francisco voters rejected the whole slate of progressive-backed initiatives and candidates on the ballot.

Prop G, the so-called anti-speculation transfer tax, was soundly defeated. The Prop E Soda Tax fell flat. Prop I passed, in a rebuff to NIMBY turf-haters. And now, David Campos has also conceded defeat.

Bernal Neighbor Tim Redmond argues progressives fared badly because they were massively outspent by their fatcat foes. And in fact, that’s undeniably true. But it may not be the complete story either.

The language Campos used in his concession points to part of the problem. Yes, this is a time of great and difficult change. But professional progressives have chosen to address this change largely as a source of threat and menace. The structural limitations of that approach are now apparent, and there’s no reason to believe that its demographics will become any more favorable in the years ahead either.

So now David Campos has a few more years to hone his craft on the Board of Supervisors.

He might consider embracing all his constituents in District 9, instead of treating our new neighbors like an invasive species. And he might try introducing some innovative ideas to expand and rebalance the City’s housing stock, instead of waging guerrilla warfare on the fundamentals of supply and demand.

Or not… it’s up to him.

But David Campos isn’t going to Sacramento, so this is his opportunity to try something different right here in San Francisco.

PHOTO: David Campos, via 48 Hills

Campos vs. Chiu: Your Bernal Heights Microhood Voting Analysis for Election 2014


Happy Day After Election Day! Today you can savor the clarity of a (mostly) known election outcome and the knowledge that your mailbox will no longer overflow with huge stacks of election-related direct mail. Today, it’s all about the results  — and the punditry about what those results tell us.

On that last score, Bernalwood is very fortunate to have some of the most clever readers in the entire universe. Specifically, we speak here of Neighbor Patrick, who has done us the great service of looking at some key returns from yesterday’s vote through the prism of the Official Guide to the Microhoods of Bernal Heights.

Neighbor Patrick has broken down the results of the David Campos vs. David Chiu contest for the District 17 Californa State Assemby seat by Bernal microhood. He then did the same for Prop E, the Soda Tax measure, to see how it fared here in the Dominion of Bernalwood.

As you probably know, the current citywide election tallies show that David Chiu is on track to defeat Bernal resident and D9 Supervisor David Campos for the State Assembly seat. As MissionLocal reports this morning, though some absentee and provisional ballots remain outstanding, “with all precincts reporting, Chiu held a 2,397-vote lead over Campos in the Assembly race to replace Tom Ammiano.”  (At this writing, Campos has yet to concede.) Meanwhile, the Prop E Soda Tax failed to clear the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

But how did Campos and Prop E do in Bernal Heights?

For that, let’s go to Neighbor Patrick in the Bernalwood Election 2014 News Center:

I thought I’d do a little digging into the election results and break down voting patterns by Bernal microhood using the Bernalwood map posted on March 18th. I think it’s a little more revealing than the generic “Bernal North” and “Bernal South” designations used by the SF elections department!

I’ve attached charts for the Campos/Chiu vote as well as the Prop E (soda tax) vote as these were the closest races. These are based on the preliminary figures released by SF Elections very early this morning so they may change slightly as provisional ballots are counted.

Note that there isn’t perfect overlap between precinct boundaries and microhood boundaries, but I’ve done my best.

Here are Bernal microhood results for Campos vs. Chiu:

CamposChiuBernal Microhoods

Here’s the Bernal microhood breakdown for Prop E:


Innnnnteresing, yes? It would appear that the residents of Foggy Vista, on Bernal’s west slope, are the most progressive tribe of all Bernalese. Neighbor Patrick adds:

I guess what jumps out at me is the relative conservatism of St. Mary’s and Alemanistan, and the heterogeneity of the different microhoods. I was very surprised to see St. Mary’s actually vote against Prop E (it was over 50% citywide although that wasn’t enough to make it law). Turnout was pretty even across the board, although Alemanistan was below average at 34%.

There’s lots to ponder and pontificate about in this analysis, which is why the Internet Gods have given us the commenting mechanism. Most of all, though, HUGE thanks to Neighbor Patrick for this terrific piece of analysis.

Is Wild Side West Now San Francisco’s Last Lesbian Bar?

Wild Side West

Last week, the operators of the Lexington Club on 19th Street in The Mission announced that the bar will soon shut down. High rents and changing demographics were cited as the causes for the Lexington’s demise.

The announcement triggered some earnest soul-searching around San Francisco, because the Lexigton was, arguably, The City’s last true lesbian bar. Writing for the HuffPo, Jen Jack Gieseking says:

The only bar dedicated to serving lesbians in San Francisco, the Lexington Club, announced that it is closing after 18 years. You may be shocked that the bar is closing and/or that there is only one lesbian bar in that gay metropolis. As a researcher of lesbian-queer spaces and economies, I am not surprised at all.


But wait! Is that true? Is the Lexington Club San Francisco’s last true lesbian bar? Or, is it the case, as a wise Jedi once said, “No. There is another.”

The Bold Italic points to Bernal Heights:

[The Lexington] has been a Mission staple for almost two decades, and when it goes so goes one of the city’s last lesbian bars in the city (Wild Side West in Bernal still stands, but it’s arguable whether it’s actually a “lesbian bar” anymore)

Journalist-about-town Steve Silverman is on the same page:

SFist replies, Yes but only sort of and not really so much:

Some may argue the case for Wild Side West, which remains a LGBT-friendly neighborhood bar in Bernal Heights, open since 1962, with a historic link to the lesbian community, but anecdotally we understand it is more of a mixed bar these days.

Bernalwood has considered this question of Wild Side West’s sexual credentials before, in the context of a larger discussion of the changing political economy of the Bay Area lesbian community.

Yet with the closure of The Lex, the subcultural role of Wild Side West is now a bit more of an urgent question. Please discuss.

PHOTOS: Wild Side West by Telstar Logistics. Lexington Club sign by Vintageroadtrip on Flickr

Nieto Family Files Wrongful Death Complaint in Federal Court





Grieving families. Medical examiner reports. Demands to release the names of the officers involved.

There is a grim parallelism to many of the recent officer-involved deaths across the country, including the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York City, and Alex Nieto here in Bernal Heights. But there are also important differences. In Ferguson and New York, medical examiners’ reports have been completed and released, and the identity of the officers involved in the incidents has been made public. But that hasn’t happened in San Francisco.

Against that backdrop, last Friday’s memorial for Bernal resident Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill was noteworthy not just because it was entirely peaceful, tightly focused, and well-organized, but also because it underscored the fact that, even after five months, Alex Nieto’s family still seeks the kind of basic information about their son’s death that has already been made public in high-profie cases elsewhere.

Friday’s march coincided with the Nieto family’s filing of a wrongful death complaint in federal court regarding the officer-involved shooting of Alex Nieto on March 21.

KQED reports:

The parents of a 28-year-old man shot and killed by San Francisco police officers on March 21 filed a federal lawsuit against the city and its police chief Friday.

The lawsuit disputes statements SFPD Chief Greg Suhr made just days after the shooting, and supporters of the slain Alejandro Nieto are suggesting a cover-up. Attorneys for Refugio and Elvira Nieto say witnesses came forward to dispute the assertion that Nieto pointed a Taser stun gun at officers just before he was shot.

A crowd of about 150 marched from the site of Nieto’s shooting to San Francisco’s federal courthouse Friday. Protesters’ chants referenced several controversial shootings by Bay Area police and the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that has recently dominated national news.

Nieto’s death sparked anger in San Francisco’s Mission District. He was well known in the neighborhood and a criminal justice student at City College of San Francisco where he was studying to become a juvenile probation officer. He had been an intern with the city’s probation department.

He also worked as a security guard at a nightclub near the Mission and carried a Taser for the job. Nieto stopped to eat a burrito atop the city’s Bernal Heights Park on his way to work the evening he was shot.

Someone saw the holstered Taser and called police, according to Suhr’s statements and SFPD scanner traffic from the night of the shooting.

Suhr told an angry crowd at a March 25 town hall meeting that officers approached Nieto and asked him to show his hands. He said Nieto drew his Taser, which automatically emits a laser sight. Officers only shot after they noticed the red dot “on them, tracking,” Suhr said.

“They believed it to be a firearm, and they fired at Mr. Nieto,” Suhr said. “Mr. Nieto went to the ground. He assumed a prone position, again he acquired the dot, continued to track as other officers arrived.”

Suhr said at the time Nieto was prohibited from owning a firearm “for mental health reasons,” a statement also disputed by his supporters.

Oakland-based attorneys John Burris and Adante Pointer are representing Nieto’s parents. Pointer said sustained protests in the Mission District compelled witnesses to contact their office.

“The notion that he was waving a Taser, displaying a Taser, acting out violently with this Taser in any way toward the officers just flies in the face of what independent parties have come forward to say,” Pointer said.

SFPD Chief Suhr’s March 25 community meeting stands as the most up-to-date official account of the events that culminated in Nieto’s death, but it beggars belief that the City still cites that meeting as its official version of events. The problem is not that the March 25 meeting was chaotic and emotional — which it was. The problem is that it was preliminary and unverified. In the five months that have elapsed since the meeting, its credibility has been undermined by the City’s failure to complete the medical examiner’s report in the Nieto case and the unconfirmed nature of the SFPD’s accounting of what happened on Bernal Hill during the evening of March 21.

The City and the SFPD are doing themselves no favors here.

This is Elvira and Refugio Nieto, in the right foreground, carrying a banner during Friday’s march to the Federal Courthouse. Neighbors Refugio and Elvira live on Cortland Avenue, and Alex Nieto was their son:


In the absence of a more complete and credible set of facts about the March 21 incident, it’s not hard to understand why Alex Nieto’s grieving family and friends — our Bernal neighbors — are using whatever means possible to develop their own narrative about how and why his life was taken.

PHOTOS: Alex Nieto Memorial on Friday, August 22, 2014 by Telstar Logistics

Airbnb Hosts Stage Backyard Rally in Bernal Heights


In addition to the counter-protest at Planned Parenthood, there was another demonstration event in Bernal Heights yesterday, but this second action was taken by neighbors who generate income by renting out space in their homes for vacation rentals. They call themselves Fair to Share San Francisco, and the Examiner tells the story:

It helped Marcia Weisbrut get on her feet after cancer. It paid for Rodolfo Cancino’s dental bills. It has allowed [Bernal resident] Greg De Meza to start paying off debts incurred during the recession.

The common thread in all their stories was the short term rental service provided by Airbnb, which is illegal in San Francisco.

The testimonials — some voiced over a P.A. system — were on display in a Bernal Heights backyard Thursday by groups launching the Fair to Share San Francisco campaign. The campaign’s aim is simple: Legalize the money-making short term rentals that Airbnb’s business model is built upon.

On hand to make their case were a collection of short-term rental hosts, representatives of Airbnb and Peers, a “sharing economy” advocate.

The push comes amidst efforts by local leaders to solve or at least ameliorate a severe housing shortage combined with steep rents, which some Airbnb opponents have linked to the company, among others.

Into that fray, the campaign aims to back legislation like Board of Supervisors President David’s Chiu’s proposal to regulate and legalize short term rentals.

The Examiner explains that Fair to Share has received substantial support from Airbnb — including the group’s basic organizational push, recruitment, brochures, and even the PA system used at the Bernal event. That’s not a bad thing — Airbnb and its hosts are a legitimate interest group with an interest in the City’s political process — but it is important to note.

In the article, Neighbor Emily, who launched the rather clever Airbnb concierge service we’ve told you about before, argued for the stabilizing effect that vacation rentals can have on San Francisco neighborhoods:

Emily Benkert, a 17-year city resident who rents out rooms in her Bernal Heights home and has started a business that helps people run their Airbnb rentals, said the service is not a detriment to The City. “This isn’t hurting anybody,” she said. “We’re not kicking people into the street.”

Instead, she argues, Airbnb’s absence would force people to leave San Francisco since the extra income they make is what allows them to stay.

PHOTO: Bernal neighbor Greg De Meza, by Mike Koozmin, SF Examiner

Local Ladies Use Unicorn Power to Counter Bernal Planned Parenthood Protests


Equipped only with a few signs, a deep appreciation for the bizarre, and plenty of Grrl Power zeal, a gallant group of local ladies staged a rally at the Planned Parenthood on Valencia yesterday to counter the anti-choice protesters who have recently been more aggressive there.

The professionally fashionable Neighbor Dema shared this dispatch from the sidewalk:

Our goal was to defuse an ugly situation with humor. I think some people were quite confused, especially by the “Unicorns Are Real” poster, but we had a very positive response. One guy instantly donated $100 to Planned Parenthood on his phone, one woman brought us muffins, and the kind folks at Terra Mia gave us free coffee! We also got several people to become members of PP. Success!

Unicorns Forever!

Well played, local ladies. Well played. You make us proud. Also: Unicorns forever!

PHOTO: via Neighbor Dema

Supreme Court Decision Amps Up Protestors at Valencia Planned Parenthood Clinic

Recently, a unanimous US Supreme Court decision invalidated a Massachusetts law that created protest-free “buffer zones” around clinics that provide abortion services, on the grounds that the law violates the First Amendment right to free speech. San Francisco has a similar buffer-zone law, which has been much appreciated at the Planned Parenthood on Valencia Street in recent years.

Yet because of the Supreme Court ruling, San Francisco’s law also is in jeopardy, and Bernal’s Plannned Parenthood clinic reports that incidents of harassment by protesters are on the rise — although City officials are reluctant to do much about it. The Chronicle has the story:

Planned Parenthood executives say San Francisco police and the city attorney aren’t doing enough to protect patients and staff from “harassment and intimidation” at the organization’s health center on Valencia Street.

“Each week, as the harassment and intimidation escalate … the city’s ordinances are violated ever more flagrantly,” Planned Parenthood’s Bay Area chapter leader, Heather Saunders Estes, wrote in a July 22 letter to City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

And when center staffers call police, they are told that “there is nothing they can do,” Saunders Estes wrote.

The latest protest rift was brought on by last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Massachusetts’ 35-foot no-protest zone around clinics.

The protesters now ignore San Francisco’s 25-foot buffer zone as they pass out literature, and film staffers and patients entering the building, clinic reps complain.

SFist adds that “Planned Parenthood’s Bay Area chapter asks volunteer escorts to sign up here.”

Hat Tip: SFist

PHOTO: Protestors outside Valencia Planned Parenthood clinic in 2011, by peephole