New Work by Bernal Artist Charles Bierwirth Now Showing at Pinhole Coffee

CharlesBierwirth

News Flash: JoEllen Depakakibo, the proprietor and caffeinated creator of Pinhole Coffee at 231 Cortland, is officially tired of commuting to work from across town. So later this month, she’s moving to Bernal Heights. Pinhole has done much to create a stronger sense of community in western Cortlandia, so the addition of soon-to-be Neighbor JoEllen to our full-time Bernalese ranks will likely be a victory for the forces of better-togetherness.

Consistent with that, soon-to-be Neighbor JoEllen tells us about a new art installation now showing at Pinhole:

We have new artwork up by Bernal resident Charles Bierwirth. He’s been living in Bernal Heights since the late 1980’s, doing commissions in Fine Art paintings and mural work. He’s been painting on canvas tarpaulins since graduate school in the late 1970’s, when he received his Masters Degree in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. He recently just finished a piece on the San Francisco icons, The Brown Twins.

Charles Bierwirth’s piece “Blau Haus” will be on display until July at Pinhole Coffee.

PHOTO: Charles Bierwirth installing his work at Pinhole Coffee, via Pinhole Coffee

David Campos Introduces Proposal to Make Mission Housing Even More Expensive, Homeowners and Landlords Even More Wealthy

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As you probably know, Bernal neighbor David Campos represents District 9 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Yesterday, he introduced a proposed ordinance that would deliver a windfall to Mission District homeowners and provide new incentives for Mission District landlords to evict existing tenants.

Supervisor Campos calls his proposal a “Temporary Moratorium on Market Rate Development,” and he says it is intended to halt displacement and maintain diversity in the Mission. In reality, it will almost certainly do the opposite. The San Francisco Business Times broke the story about the Campos proposal:

Voters will be asked in November whether to halt market-rate housing construction in the Mission District if neighborhood activists have their way, the Business Times has learned.

Edwin Lindo of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club said Monday that a coalition of affordable housing and progressive groups soon will submit a potential ballot measure to the city attorney that would delay market-rate housing projects in the Mission for up to 18 months.

They would then attempt to collect the roughly 9,400 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

A draft of the ballot measure, obtained through a public records request by a neighborhood activist, showed that the moratorium would apply to projects larger than 20 units. The moratorium would apply to the entire neighborhood, not just the 24th Street area on the south side of the neighborhood considered a Latino cultural district, as had been previously floated by Supervisor David Campos.

“Our goal is not to stop all development. Our goal is to stop incredibly large development that focus exclusively on market-rate housing,” Lindo said. “We need a pause to ensure that if developers are going to build in our city they’re going to figure out a way to build affordable housing, even if that could be cutting into their 15 to 20 percent profit margins.”

Many economists, urban policy groups like SPUR, and policymakers like Mayor Ed Lee and Scott Wiener have all said this kind of strategy will exacerbate the neighborhood’s problems. With a shriveling pool public dollars available to build affordable housing, the city has looked toward more market-rate development to pay for housing for low-income residents through inclusionary laws and fees.

The SF Chronicle adds the measure “would implement a 45-day moratorium on planning approvals, demolitions and building permits for multifamily residential developments in a 1½-square-mile area. It could be extended for up to two years under state law.”

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You don’t have to be an economist, or an urban policy wonk, or or a government policymaker to envision why this proposal from Supervisor Campos and progressive allies will put lots and lots of money in the pockets of existing Mission District property-owners. All you have to do is take a moment to consider this graph:

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The housing gap graph (which comes from this video) shows that San Francisco’s population has been growing steadily for several decades, but our supply of housing has failed to keep pace. The housing deficit has grown more extreme with each passing year, which has made housing more expensive for San Franciscans at all income levels, across the board. This effect is called supply and demand, and supply and demand is sort of like the law of gravity, in that even if you don’t much like it, you still can’t realistically hope escape it.

The local economy is booming and San Francisco’s population is growing rapidly, so the only real way to make housing more affordable for everyone is to increase the overall supply. That’s a slow and imperfect process, to be sure, but if your goal is to reduce displacement, stabilize prices, and create opportunities for all San Franciscans across the board, there’s really no viable alternative. Building more affordable housing is something we absolutely must do, but increasing the overall housing supply and increasing the amount of affordable housing is not an either/or proposition. Indeed, by law market-rate housing development actually provides substantial funding for the creation of more affordable housing.

Supervisor Campos’s moratorium offer no proposals to provide additional funding for affordable housing, nor does it propose a way to offset the affordable housing funds that will be lost by blocking the construction of market rate housing. And he has had nothing to say about accelerating construction of affordable housing projects that are already on the table, like the proposed building at Cesar Chavez and Shotwell that your Bernalwood editor is eager to look out upon.

Supervisor Campos and his NIMBY allies say the goal is to reduce evictions and displacement, but that doesn’t hold much water either. Their opposition to new housing development has been fierce — even when absolutely no one would be displaced by the construction, and even when projects contain a substantial number of affordable housing units. In March, for example, activists shouted down a proposal to build 291 units of market-rate housing with an additional 41 units reserved for middle-class buyers on the squalid site next to the 16th Street BART station that is today occupied by a chain drug store and a Burger King. Last month, many of the same activists disrupted a proposal to build 115 units of market-rate housing on the site of a semi-abandoned warehouse at 2675 Folsom near 23rd Street.

There is one surefire way to make housing in The Mission even more expensive: In a transit-rich location with two BART stations, several arterial MUNI lines, and excellent freeway access, where demand for housing already vastly exceeds supply, blocking the creation of new housing will only make existing housing even more precious. And that is what Supervisor Campos proposes to do.

So if the moratorium makes no logical sense and is unlikely to do much to address the housing affordability crisis, what purpose does it hope to serve? On the 48 Hills site, Bernal neighbor Tim Redmond described the scene yesterday as Campos announced his plan:

The existing zoning, under the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, “has failed the Mission,” [Campos] said, pointing out that 8,000 Latino residents have been lost in the past decade. The population of the Mission was 52 percent Latino a decade ago; now it’s down to 40 percent.

That tribal logic may be the most candid explanation Campos has yet provided. The proposed moratorium mirrors Calle24’s effort to create a legally-protected Latino enclave along 24th Street, but it seeks to extend privileged incumbent status to an area that includes almost all of the Mission District. Progressive power brokers may have a weak understanding of housing economics, but they sure know how to rewrite the rules to protect their turf.

It may be true that San Francisco can’t really build its way out of the current housing crisis. But it’s definitely true that we can’t not-build our way out of it either. As San Francisco adds thousands of new residents each year, every delay and every postponed project means housing gets even more expensive as competition intensifies for whatever housing already exists.

That’s a miserable state of affairs longtime renters, new residents, and would-be home-buyers alike. But if you already own property in the Mission (or North Bernal, for that matter), the moratorium proposed by David Campos and progressive activists will have you laughing all the way to the bank.

PHOTO: David Campos, via 48 Hills

Helpful Handbill Helps Bernal Neighbor Recover Lost Laundry

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A helpful Bernal neighbor went out of his way this week to give Neighbor Suzanne a helping hand. She tells the tale:

Last Tuesday I took my 4 year old and a lot of dry cleaning onto the 23 bus at Glen Park, on our way to our place on Moultrie. I hooked the clothes hangers on the bar for people to hold on to and got into an animated conversation with my son.

When we hustled off the bus at Andover, I made sure I had all the usual things: Max’s stuffed animal, coat, artwork, etc, but I forgot all about the dry cleaning. I didn’t realize until I got home that I’d left it behind. I dragged my feet calling 311 because I knew I’d just spend half an hour on the phone and not be any closer to my missing sweaters. I felt pretty bad that I’d lost some of our favorite clothes.

A couple of days later I was walking home from The Good Life when I noticed a neatly handwritten sign at my eye level outside of the library playground. I paused to read and realized it was addressed to… me! Well, to “MOM.” A passerby was so taken with the fact that I was the person addressed that he took my picture in front of it. I felt relieved and thankful that someone had been thoughtful enough to put signs up for me.

I left a message at the number Jim left, he called back, and we agreed I’d come by the next night — he lives just a few blocks from us. He accepted the bottle of wine I brought, I accepted my wayward dry cleaning… and the rest is history.

PHOTO: Neighbor Suzanne with the sign that saved her dry cleaning

Dispute Unsettled, but Bocana Neighbor Departs Home After Huge Rent Increase

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Yesterday was a sad moving day for Neighbor Deb Follingstad, who had to leave her home at 355 Bocana after receiving a now-infamous 315% rent increase notice from the landlord, Neighbor Nadia Llama.

ABC7 updated the story last Friday:

Follingstad’s home is understandably a mess since the May 5 deadline to move is just days away. She says leaving her home of 10 years hurts. She explained to 7 On Your Side, “It’s so painful and I’ve had to uproot my life in a month.”

A move out sale Follingstad held attracted a steady stream of people. Until she finds a place to live, she plans to couch surf and house sit. Beyond that, her future is murky.

“I don’t know anymore. I can’t afford to live here. A lot of my friends can’t afford to live here and it’s pretty heartbreaking the way the city’s changing,” Follingstad said.

The home is registered as a single family home and the landlord believes it’s not covered by rent control laws.

Tenants rights attorney Joe Tobener calls this eviction by rent increase. He said, “It’s an easy way for landlords to try to get tenants out, to increase the rent.”

Tobener plans to file a lawsuit on Follingstad’s behalf. He is charging landlord Nadia Llama with wrongful eviction.

PHOTO: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, Neighbor Deb Follingstad via ABC7

Bernal Neighbor Has Video of His Own Car Being Stolen

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Neighbor John’s car was stolen last week, and he has security camera footage that shows how the thieves did the deed:

My neighbor recorded some nice video of my old Honda Civic being stolen the other night at the corner of Bonview and Coso/Stoneman.

This may just serve as a warning to people in the neighborhood. You can see the thieves checking very carefully for hidden keys in the wheel-wells. Doing that is a great way to give thieves easy entry. I didn’t do that, but it does seem that these guys knew some kind of trick to get around my anti-theft setup.

My car’s license plate is 3TQT217 on the off-chance someone might see it. I suspect they might have wanted it for parts. The body is pretty beaten up.

Here’s the video:

How to Find Bernal Heights While Orbiting in Outer Space

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This week, astronaut Scott Kelly flattered all of us in the City and County of San Francisco by tweeting a realtime photo while he passed overhead in the International Space Station:

It’s a lovely image, but astute astrocartographers may notice that the right edge of the photo stops just short of Bernal Heights. We’re not in the shot. Grrrrrr.

Nevertheless, according to every magazine your Bernalwood editor read as a child, we all will have the opportunity to orbit Earth from the safety and comfort of a fabulous space station, someday.

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And when that day comes, you should know how to look down from the lofty heights of outer space and quickly find the soils of your terrestrial homeland here in Bernal Heights.

Locating Bernal Heights from outer space is actually pretty easy. The trick is to know what local landmarks to look for.

Bernal Heights sits roughly at the intersection of two imaginary, perpendicular lines that extend from Islais Creek Channel to the east of Bernal Heights and Aquatic Park to the north. Both of these have a distinctive, easy-to-spot profile when viewed from above, so just find the intersection where the lines come together and then… hey, you have located your home, Earth creature:

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Ready to practice? Here’s another view from the ISS.

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Let’s zoom and enhance:

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Final image; Challenge level, with no gridlines.

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Did you find our glamorous Bernal territories?

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Great! You now have The Right Stuff. Just strap on your guitar, and you’re ready for orbit:

PHOTO: Top, San Francisco as seen by Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in January 2015. 

Two Homes Tell a Brain-Melting Story About Bernal Heights Real Estate

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Our real estate-obsessed friends at the CurbedSF blog posted two stories this week that provide a snapshot portrait of the current (OMFG) state of the Bernal residential home market.

Coming just after this week’s (OMFG) update on the state of the Bernal residential rental market, the basic story in the residential home sales market is probably easy to anticipate. But let’s go through the motions anyway, if only in the spirit of science and inquiry.

Snapshot One is a remodeled shoebox on Peralta just south of Cortland that was just flipped for a staggering $400K (?!?!?!) above its asking price and doubled in value over the course of a year. Here’s a split view of the home before and after the remodel:

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CurbedSF says:

The little house at 853 Peralta Street sits a mere stone’s throw away from the 101 freeway. It isn’t at the heart of trendy Bernal Heights, but that didn’t stop flippers from fixing up the once-simple house and selling it for $1.75 million. That price is more than double what the flippers paid last April, when they bought the home for $830,000. At that time, the home had the original fixtures from its 1977 construction, including a kitchen squished into one corner, a brick fireplace in another, and a red plank back deck. The house was given a makeover that left it with an open plan, a new kitchen, and a freshly landscaped backyard.

CurbedSF has a cool slider widget-thingy that lets you view lots of before/after shots of this house, so click through to play along.

Snapshot Two is a funny little house on Prospect near Coso:

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CurbedSF sayeth:

There’s something off-kilter about the little blue cottage at 22 Prospect Avenue, on the north slope of Bernal Heights. And it’s not just the wide-set windows, whose lower-than-usual placement gives the facade a somewhat downcast expression. Inside, the two-bed, one-bath home reveals itself to be an oddball cross between a woodsy cabin and some sort of loft. The rafters are exposed, and more than a few walls look as though knotty wood panels (or possibly laminate?) have been rigged up below the ceiling. There’s a pair of stainless-steel sinks in the bathroom, and one bedroom has a weirdly institutional vibe, with streaky carpet tile and a ceiling that wouldn’t look out of place in an office or classroom.

The home—which clocks in at 1,314 square feet, per property records—is listed for $789K, a modest $600 per square for what the brokerbabble acknowledges is a fixer.

What our friends at CurbedSF were really trying to say (though perhaps they didn’t know it) is that this Bernal Heights house is a classic Bernal Heights-style home — only it now comes with a price tag inflated by several years limited housing inventory. Here’s an interior view:

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Anyone care to guess what the sale price for 22 Prospect will be? And what it will look like 18 months from now?