UPDATED: Active Shooter Killed by Police at St. Luke’s Construction Site


One of the sadder realities of contemporary life is the fact that the phrase “active shooter” has become a common expression used to describe deranged people who go on shooting rampages in public places. Last night, a frightening active shooter incident in northwest Bernal Heights ended when the SFPD killed a gunman who had stormed the St. Luke’s hospital construction site.

Here’s SFGate’s summary of what happened:

Police officers fatally shot an armed man who climbed to the sixth floor of a construction site in San Francisco’s Mission District on Wednesday and aimed one of his two guns at nearby St. Luke’s Hospital, authorities said.

The man fired at least one round before being shot to death, but police did not say whether that shot was directed at the adjacent hospital. No one was hit, police said.

The man, who wore white coveralls and appeared to be in his late 20s, ascended to the sixth of seven floors of the incomplete building around 4:15 p.m. after robbing a Big 5 Sporting Goods store in San Bruno, a little more than 10 miles away, said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.

He said the man had committed the robbery with a handgun and emerged with a second firearm — one of the store’s shotguns — as well as ammunition shells.

The horror ended when the man was killed on the roof of a construction elevator on the northwest corner of the unfinished structure. The building, which is slated to become a 120-bed hospital, occupies land that was originally the Jose Cornelio Bernal homesite in the mid-1800s.

UPDATE: 12 November, 3:30 pm: The shooter killed on the scene in the St. Luke’s incident has been identified as Javier Lopez Garcia, a 25-year-old San Jose resident. SFGate reports:

Investigators said that Lopez Garcia had made statements in both San Bruno and San Francisco indicating he climbed to his deadly perch next to the Mission District hospital Wednesday with a death wish.

“I’m ready to die. Today will be the day I die,” Lopez Garcia said at the scene, according to officials.

Lopez Garcia is believed to have robbed the Big 5 Sporting Goods Wednesday and made statements to the clerks at the store indicating he was suicidal, according to police.

About 20 minutes after leaving the Big 5 in San Bruno, Lopez Garcia arrived at the St. Luke’s construction site. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr adds that it’s unknown why Lopez Garcia headed to St. Luke’s. “That’s the million-dollar question,” Suhr told SFGate.

PHOTO: Police approach the body of the shooter (wearing white overalls) at the St. Luke’s hospital construction site, Nov. 11, 2015. Photo via @CBS12

Vicky Walker Stars in New Podcast About Bernal Heights History


The fabulous Vicky Walker is no stranger to Bernalwood readers; she’s a co-founder of the Bernal Heights History Project and an intrepid seeker of artifacts about the people and places that made our neighborhood what it is today.

As befits her status as Bernal’s Minister of History, Neighbor Vicky was recently invited to be a celebrity guest on the Outside Lands Podcast, an audio show created by Woody LaBounty and (former Bernal neighbor) David Gallagher of the Western Neighborhoods Project, to talk about the history of Bernal Heights.

Listen and learn, right here!

PHOTO: Bernal Hill, circa 1925

Hillside Supper Club Team Invades the Kitchen at James Beard House


The James Beard Awards are the Oscars for the culinary trade, and the James Beard Foundation is its Academy. Earlier this month, chefs Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton from the Hillside Supper Club on Precita Park were invited to New York to cook a special dinner at the James Beard House, and it was quite a big to-do.

Of course, Chef Tony and Chef Jonathan also live right around the corner from the restaurant, so the glory bestowed upon Neighbor Tony and Neighbor Jonathan — and, by commutative extension, the entire Dominion of Bernalwood — is even more sweet.

Neighbor Tony’s brother Austin traveled to NYC to participate in the festivities, and he tells Bernalwood why the James Beard Dinner meant so much to Team HSC:

Hillside Supper Club has been a close watcher and member of the James Beard Foundation for a while. When Tony was in college he earned a scholarship from them, and with that scholarship he traveled to Europe to indulge in his culinary dream. The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit culinary foundation founded by James Beard. He was a food writer, teacher, ad cookbook writer. Think, Julia Child; except the male version. The Hillside Supper Club team was invited to cook at the Beard House based upon our cooking style, our inspiration, and hard work and dedication. It is probably one of the best events we will ever do in our culinary career, to be honest.

Jonathan Sutton, Austin Ferrari, and Tony Ferrari at James Beard House, NYC

Cooking a James Beard Dinner is sexy accomplishment, but the hotness doesn’t stop there. In fact, like a big, wet, dripping maraschino perched atop a Tcho chocolate almond cake with amaretto cream, smoked sea salt, and candied almonds, Neighbor Jonathan took the sexy one step further recently when Marie Claire named him one of the 11 Most Eligible Bachelor Chefs in America. Seriously:


Bernal ladies, if you’re hungry, you know where to find him in the kitchen.

PHOTO: Top, Hillside Supper Club on Instagram

Seasonal Transition Alert! Bernal Hill Engreening Officially Underway



With the blessed arrival of some early season rains, it was just a matter of time before Bernal Hill began its annual transition from Brown Mode to Green Mode.

This morning, a proclamation from Neighbor Veronica made it official:

The Engreenening has begun!

Indeed! Neighbor Veronica also shared these photos of Bernal Hill’s verdant new peachfuzz to verify the transformation that’s now underway.

Hail the rains! Hail the green!

PHOTOS: Neighbor Veronica

New Book Celebrates the Visual Career of Neighbor Michael Gillette




When we last heard from Bernal neighbor Michael Gillette, he had just completed a trippy new video for My Morning Jacket that showcased his formidable skills as an artist and animator. At the time, however Bernalwood hadn’t realized that Neighbor Michael’s output is so extensive, so amazingly creative, and so closely tied to the music industry.

Now Neighbor Michael the focus of a gorgeous new book called Drawn in Stereo that’s a visual greatest-hits collection of his work:

Filled with selections from his entire career, Drawn in Stereo shares an eclectic display of artistic approaches, including gallery shows, sketchbooks, music video animation stills, and magazine contributions for the likes of; Spin, MOJO, Q, & the New Yorker.

Projects showcased include work for the Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney, MGMT, & Beck—among many others— Drawn in Stereo highlights Gillette’s ability to channel music into compelling visual art.

Featuring a foreword by Fred Deakin and an interview by Elastica’s Justine Frischmann, Drawn in Stereo reveals an inspired life, ranging from Britpop London and rooming with the Aphex Twin, to fifteen years of creativity in San Francisco.

In a message to Bernalwood, Neighbor Michael also shared these local notes:

About half of my career has been spent on Lundys, and I’d guess about 90% of the work in the book was made here.


The book is a big deal for me as it gathers together work I’ve created over the the last 25 years. The focus is on music, as this has been a constant inspiration, and I’ve made a lot of imagery in service of that industry for folks such as Beck & The Beastie Boys to Paul McCartney and My Morning Jacket.

Also, a historical footnote: As a kid I loved Rick Griffin, and his work really helped set the course of my life. I found out not long ago, his purple patch designing Fillmore posters and the like took place on Elsie Street!

So much gorgeousness. Want a copy of Neighbor Michael’s sexxxy new book — for you, or for that special locavore on Santa’s list?  Get it right here.

Renderings Unveiled for Proposed 96 Units of Senior Citizen Housing on Shotwell



YIMBYs rejoice! Renderings have finally been unveiled for a $40 million project to construct a nine-story building at 1296 Shotwell Street, just off Cesar Chavez, to provide 96 units of housing for lower-income senior citizens. Funding for the project will mostly come from a variety of public sources, including federal grants and San Francisco housing funds. Mission Local broke the story:

The Mission Economic Development Agency, an established neighborhood non-profit but a newcomer to the affordable housing game, is partnering once again with the experienced Chinatown Community Development Corporation to construct the senior housing complex. It will allocate 20 percent of its units to formerly homeless seniors and the remainder will go to seniors with annual incomes between $21,400 and $35,700.

This is great news, and we really need more housing, so your Bernalwood editor remains a big fan of this project even though it will definitely block some of my glamorous downtown view. Let’s build it! But let’s also look at some of the details:

Right now, 1296 Shotwell is basically a shed that’s home to a few automotive repair shops. The history of this project is intimately tied to the Vida market-rate development at 2558 Mission Street that also created the soon-to-open Alamo Drafthouse Cinema inside the restored New Mission theater. Vida is a 114-unit, market-rate project in which the developer opted to meet their inclusionary housing requirements by purchasing 1296 Shotwell Street as a land dedication site for use by San Francisco to create affordable housing. This means the City basically received the land at 1296 Shotwell for free. And presumably, since 1296 Shotwell will be senior housing, each of the units in the new building will be relatively small, although the height of the building gives it significant density. That probably explains why, even with donated land and many small units, 1296 Shotwell pencils out at the relatively low price of $417,000 per unit. Prop A, the affordable housing bond passed in the election this month, will help pay for 1296 Shotwell.

Also by way of context, the Mission neighborhood nonprofit partner for 1296 Shotwell is Mission Economic Development Agency. MEDA has been in operation since the 1970s, mostly as a community assistance organization providing educational and small-business support services to Latino families in the Mission. More recently, MEDA has branched out into housing development. MEDA was a major backer of the recent Proposition I push to establish a moratorium on market-rate housing in the Mission, and Gabriel Medina, MEDA’s policy director, managed the Yes On I campaign from MEDA’s headquarters at 2301 Mission Street. Prop I was rejected by voters in the election earlier this month.

Also, by way of further clarification, Bernalwood’s understanding is that 1296 Shotwell is separate from 1515 South Van Ness, the previously-discussed Lennar development that seeks to create 160 units of market-rate housing on the site of the former McMillan Electric warehouse (which was itself originally the site of the Lesher-Muirhead Oldsmobile dealership).  This diagram shows how the two proposed development sites fit together:


As far as we know, none of the proposed developments will impact the (rather charming) Johns’s British Motor Car repair shop that fronts Cesar Chavez, nor the AutoZone store with its very fashionable view of Bernal Hill.

That’s a lot of change coming soon to one Bernal-adjascent block, but it it’s good to see positive efforts to put a dent in our housing shortage. At last.

That Big Mission Fire, as Seen from Bernal Heights




That big fire in the Mission on Sunday morning created a pillar of billowing smoke that was an ominous spectacle for many Bernalese living on the north slope of Bernal Hill.

Neighbor Jason used some optics to enhance his view from Bernal, and the photos above show the dramatic results: He captured the scene as flames engulfed the much-loved Rolling Stock tire shop on the corner of Shotwell and 16th. The SF Appeal wrote about the details:

A three-alarm fire this morning in the Inner Mission neighborhood of San Francisco destroyed an auto business and displaced 17 people at an apartment building, an assistant chief of the San Francisco Fire Department said.

The first report of the fire came in at 7:45 a.m. at 16th and Shotwell streets, assistant chief Dave Franklin said.

No civilians or firefighters were injured, Franklin said.

The fire destroyed an auto business that sells tires and other auto equipment, Franklin said.

A business named Rolling Stock is located at the corner of 16th and Shotwell streets, according the firm’s website.

The company was not open for business at the time of the fire, Franklin said.

The fire also burned an apartment building on 16th Street where 17 people had to leave their homes, he said.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Jason