New Details Emerge About Circumstances Surrounding 2014 Alex Nieto Shooting

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The cover story of today’s San Francisco Examiner reveals new information about the circumstances surrounding the SFPD officer-involved shooting of Bernal neighbor Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill in March 2014.

The Examiner reports:

Supporters say Nieto was defenseless and never attempted to grab, or point at police, the stun gun holstered at his side. They also believe Nieto was brought to the ground by gunfire, and then shot until dead.

But previously unreported details included in a letter sent from the District Attorney’s Office to Chief Greg Suhr in February, when the DA decided not to press criminal charges against the four officers involved, contradict those claims. The case has since been referred to the FBI.

The San Francisco Police Department echoed the DA’s decision last week when it closed its investigation into Nieto’s death, determining that officers acted within department policy when they fatally shot him on March 21, 2014.

Nieto pulled the trigger on his stun gun three times within moments of police shooting at him, according to the DA.

Each trigger squeeze was recorded by the Taser’s memory. An analyst with Taser International reviewed the weapon’s clock and determined the trigger was first pulled at 7:18:45 p.m., again seven seconds later and then at 7:19:01 p.m., according to the DA.

“These times coincide with time the officers discharged their weapons, which can be heard on the audio recording of the 911 call beginning at 7:18:40 p.m.,” the letter read.

The article also reveals that Neighbor Alex had several disturbing mental-health incidents in the weeks preceding his death on Bernal Hill.

 IMAGE: Alex Nieto photo illustration by Telstar Logistics

Neighborhood Vineyards Is Making Locavore Wine in Bernal Heights

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Oh hey. Did you some folks are growing grapes and making wine in Bernal Heights? Well, it’s happening: Some folks are growing grapes and making wine in Bernal Heights, at America’s first urban vineyard.

Neighbor and celebrity wineblogger Alder Yarrow  pointed us toward this recent Chronicle article about Neighborhood Vineyards at Alemany Farm:

I found myself walking through dense rows of headstaked Pinot vines on an otherwise weedy hill just west of the Alemany Farmers’ Market, squeezed above a block of public housing and below a row of modern Bernal Heights townhomes. Hartshorn set out an old knit blanket and poured me a glass of Albariño.

Her vineyard dreams began in France, where she went in 2009 with hopes of becoming a cheesemaker. That plan fizzled, not least because she realized her social life in rural France mostly involved playing petanque with septuagenarians.

After some wine marketing work in France, she returned to California in 2012, but not before she had visited Clos Montmartre, the tiny vineyard planted on Paris’ outskirts. Hartshorn loved the notion of thousands of Parisians coming to help with the mostly symbolic harvest. It wasn’t about the wine; it was an affirmation of wine’s cultural importance. Could San Francisco, as much a spiritual wine capital as Paris, have something similar?

Well, you can probably guess the answer to that question. Watch this video about Neighborhood Vineyards to see how they planted their 349 pinot noir vines right here in the glamorous terroir of Bernal Heights:

Want to visit? There’s a special guest talk and wine tasting happening this Sunday, August 15.

PHOTOS: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

A Huge Group Hug For Helping to Make the Esmeralda Mini-Park More Fabulous Than Ever

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Last weekend, a glorious group of Bernal Heights volunteers gathered at the Esmeralda Mini-Park to help restore and rebuild the park (and the secret slides) to a new state of fabulous.

Around 40 Bernalese showed up to lend a hand, and the results look rather spectacular. The trellis has been sturdily rebuilt. The planter boxes are beefy and better than ever. The slide has a new launch deck up top and a new rubberized landing below. New retaining walls hold the hillside in place. It was a great scene while the work was happening, and Neighbor Carl Nolte even showed up to write about it for The Chronicle:

They say all politics is local. And so are all cities worth their salt. They are villages, neighborhoods. I found that out just the other day by walking up my street in Bernal Heights. […]

The [Esmeralda] project’s biggest triumph came Saturday, when more than three dozen neighbors showed up as part of District Nine community day to work on the park and the steps. The city lent tools, technical advice, even a free lunch.

This year’s Esmeralda project is a bit of a reprise of an old neighborhood tune on Bernal Heights. Back in 1978, a different group of neighbors got the city to build the park and put in landscaping in the first place.

Seriously. Go check out the park. It looks so great.

And for that, some super-extra-very-heavy-duty special thanks are due to Neighbors Joan Carson and Nancy Windesheim, who live near the mini-park. Say hello:

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Neighbors Joan and Nancy did the grunt-work to organize the effort to get the project funded and make sure it was done right. Without them, none of this would have happened. None of it.

Yesterday Neighbors Joan and Nancy wrote Bernalwood to share a few thank-yous of their own:

To everyone that came out on Saturday for the Esmeralda Slide Park Workday. —Thank you!

To Mohammed Nuru, Director of DPW, Larry Stringer, Deputy Director for Operations DPW, and Kevin Sporer, Superintendent of DPW Bureau of Building Repair —  Thank you for going the extra mile to make this rebuild a success.

To the DPW work crew, especially Carpentry, Painting, Street Environmental Services, and Urban Forestry — Thank you.

To David Campos and his aide Hillary Ronen — Thank you.

We all love this Park. And with the help of the Department of Public Works (DPW), Campos’ office, and hardworking volunteers, we are keeping it that very special place.

The planter box and trellis are back and beautiful. The benches and picnic table will be back within a couple of weeks.

Your help was so appreciated and we will continue to reach out when opportunities arise. If you can help, great. If not, maybe next time. One thing we can all do (as we’re using the area or just walking through it) is to encourage slide users to take their used cardboard with them. When left behind, it leaves a big mess.

If you want to remain active on volunteering your time for upcoming workdays on Esmeralda Slide Park, RSVP Joan Carson at jcartist5691 AT @gmail.com

Nancy and I really couldn’t have done this without all of you so, once again: THANK YOU.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Charlie’s Cafe on Precita Park Is For Sale

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It’s sometimes hard to remember how much Precita Park has changed in just the last five years.

Think back, however, and you may recall that the Precita Park of 2010 was lovely, but rather lifeless. The eastern side of the park near the playground was home to two beer-and-chips corner stores, one of which was frequently shut down because of run-ins with the law. On the western side, along Folsom, Cancilla’s Market was yet another corner store offering beer and chips. Cafe Cozzolino was sometimes open and always empty, in no small part because it offered some of San Francisco’s most disappointing Italian food. The Park Bench Cafe coffee shop was also sad and empty, which left Charlie’s Cafe as Precita Park’s only real restaurant and community gathering place.

Fast-forward to today, and the landscape is transformed. The Precita Park Cafe now occupies one of the former corner stores across the street from the playground, and it’s such an institution that it already feels like it’s always been there. Hillside Supper Club moved into Cafe Cozzolino, Harvest Hills Market is a walkable alternative to schlepping to a supermarket, and Neighbor Eliza is building a new pizza shop inside the former Park Bench Cafe.

Now Charlie’s Cafe proprietor Charlie Harb writes Bernalwood to tell us that his cafe has just been listed for sale, and he wants Bernal neighbors to have first dibs:

After over 14 years in the neighborhood, it’s time for me to sell my beloved cafe. Adam, the current manager, is leaving town after running Charlie’s for 2 years, and I now have other interests. If you are interested, or know of someone who is interested in purchasing the cafe, feel free to contact me at charliescafesf AT gmail DOTCOM.

All the particulars are in this Craigslist ad.

A personal footnote: Your Bernalwood editor would like to extend my gratitude to Charlie for running his cafe. When I first landed in Bernal Heights after moving from the alien shores of The Mission, all the way on the other side of Cesar Chavez, Charlie was one of the very first people to welcome me here, and his kitchen fed the construction crews that rebuilt my home during two grayhair-producing years of renovations. In so many ways, he was the first person to teach me about the strength of the Bernal Heights community. Thank you Charlie!

PHOTO: Charlie’s Cafe on August 10, 2015 by Telstar Logistics

Fumi Curry Now Open on Mission Street in Bernal’s NanoTokyo District

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There’s a new grand opening to celebrate in NanoTokyo, the emerging cluster of Japanese restaurants located around Mission and 29th Streets in Bernal Heights. Last night, Fumi Curry & Seafood opened for business for the very first time in the former Eagle Donuts location at 3303 Mission.

Neighbor Jen took the family for a test-drive dinner at Fumi last night, and she filed this report:

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First night open was last night. We had a curry chicken, curry crab fried rice, and the kids teriyaki chicken meal (shown above). All were very good! Not like the best you’ve ever had, but definitely above average. Kids meal was a great value for $6 and even included a little toy yo-yo. Lots of families with young children there and one couple on a date who seemed a bit overwhelmed by the family crowd. Good service and the place looks amazing. As much as I miss Eagle Donuts, the decor is a distinct improvement.

Hurrah! Sounds encouraging.

Oh, and if you’re not familiar with the joyful world of Japanese-style curry, check out Bernalwood’s primer on the subject here.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics (above) and Neighbor Jen

This Is Your 2015 Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale Treasure Map!!!

Tap to view the updated map

Tap to view the most up-to-date map

It’s here! Saturday! SaturdaySATURDAY! The biggest and most glamorous neighborhood garage sale in all of San Francisco happens this Saturday, August 8, 2015 all over Bernal Heights, and if you want to find the goods, you need this high-tech treasure map.

Yup, it’s time to put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes, stuff your pockets with wads of petty cash, and load up the bootlegged copy of that FedEx route-optimization software you downloaded from a sketchy Albanian website. Because you’re going to want to map-out your plan of attack for the more than 100 Bernal homes that are having a garage sale on Saturday.

Here’s the pre-sale update:

As of late Weds evening, the Bernal Hillwide Elves tallied 111 garages that have registered to participate in this years most epic garage sale ever! Facebook has been blowing up with tons of likes, 60+ shares, lots and lots of comments and general social media mayhem!

Sellers are going to have a fantastic day on Saturday. And if that weren’t enough, we’ve raised over $2,300 for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center! Booyah!

Sellers can still register your sale.

Buyers, check out the map and plan your route.

Saturday: Volunteers Needed to Restore Esmeralda Mini-Park

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Work is now underway to restore and rebuild the Esmeralda Mini-Park, with much thanks due to Neighbors Nancy and Joan, who are wrangling the City bureaucracy to ensure that the project is done right. There’s much to be done, so in the grandest and most historic Bernalese tradition, Nancy and Joan are organizing a Neighborly Volunteer Work Day  this Saturday, August 8 to get stuff done:

The Department of Public Works has agreed to rebuild the planter box, trellis, benches and picnic table!

It’s taken a lot of time and effort to get the City to do this rebuild.The planter box and trellis are being rebuilt on site, the benches and picnic table are gone for now but will be replaced with new wood and a fresh paint job soon.

A volunteer workday is happening on August 8 in District 9. As part of the District, we have the opportunity to get tools, supplies and even a carpenter from the City to help us do more work in the Esmeralda Slide Park than the City can do on its own. The Park has been in need of repairs for years. It’s heavily used, not only as a thoroughfare to Bernal Hill, but also as a gathering place with a fabulous slide!

We have assured the City we are an active, dedicated community who will show up to volunteer for the WorkDay in order to aid the City in its effort to upgrade the Esmeralda Slide Park between Winfield St. and Prospect Ave.

Please join us to help with painting, carpentry, planting, and general clean up at Esmeralda and Winfield

Come to the Volunteer Work Day!
(aka, Community CleanTeam Day)

August 8 — 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Please RSVP to Joan Carson jcartist5691@gmail.com by August 4
and note whether you want to help with construction, painting or general clean up.

Wear comfortable clothes so you can “get down and dirty”. The City will supply tools and lunch.

We are creating an email list to keep you informed in case you want to participate in future enhancements to the Esmeralda Slide Park.

SEE YOU @ 9am ON AUGUST 8!

PHOTOS: Esmeralda Mini-Park in on Aug. 2, 2015, and Esmeralda Slide Work Crew, 1978