Dog Bites

IKEA, Party of Five, heavenly coffee, and bumpin' Bernal Heights bus shelters

Tom Burke, another spokesperson for the Diocese, denied the church documents -- which specify a project completion date of summer 2000 -- were anything more than a "vision statement. The building is going to be exactly what I told you it's going to be -- a Jesuit residence."

Um, so what about money raised from corporate donors intended for the Spiritual Life Center? Burke said it will be used for "the good of the community, for the young adults in the community."

Gimme ... Shelter?
Dog Bites has always wanted to live in Bernal Heights -- it's mostly just a vibe, though we also like the narrow, winding streets, the ramshackle little houses, and the proximity to Moki's Sushi -- but man! In a city full of self-appointed neighborhood committees drunk with power, we are newly intimidated by the Northwest Bernal Alliance, whose organized opposition has prevented Muni from putting new bus shelters on Mission Street south of Cesar Chavez -- because people have sex in them.

Now, Dog Bites likes to think we get around San Francisco quite a bit, but we have to admit we have never seen anyone doing anything even remotely sexual in a bus shelter. In fact, up until now, we had believed there was just something about Muni -- maybe the unflattering lighting, maybe the cockroaches, maybe the crushing sense of the individual's helplessness in the chilly grip of an indifferent bureaucracy -- that killed all libidinous impulses, with, of course, the exception of those of frotteurs.

So we have to ask again -- bus shelters? "They're in the middle of the street, on bus bulbs!" spluttered Lew Lillian of Infinity Outdoor, the company that installs and maintains them. "I've never heard anything like it. This small militant group thinks they speak for 30,000 people, for the whole Outer Mission, Excelsior, and Bernal Heights. And they don't."

Of the NWBA's other objections to the shelters -- that they invite graffiti, are used for advertising, and harbor drug dealers -- Lillian claims his company had already agreed that the Bernal shelters wouldn't carry advertising and would be cleaned three times a week, rather than twice, as is standard.

The small militant group itself isn't particularly interested in talking; the NWBA's Miki Saxon told us, "There are four blocks of Mission that are our responsibility. When the block club really got going in '88 there were murders and muggings, and we don't have that now. We've worked really closely with Ingleside [police station] on that. Our section of Mission is really turning around. We've got some great new clubs. It's really becoming a lot more like Valencia."

She angrily refused to answer any questions at all about the bus shelters, and speculated that Dog Bites was out to get her anyway. "I suppose the worst that can happen is I'm going to have to go around telling everyone you twisted what I said," she said. "You can print that too -- I suppose you will."

Saxon said the only way we'd get any more information on the bus shelter brouhaha was to attend a meeting of her group. Except that the issue, as far as the NWBA is concerned, is settled -- no bus shelters, period -- and therefore isn't on the agenda. So to reopen the question, we'd first have to attend the group's planning meeting, two weeks prior to its regular meeting, and move that the bus shelter discussion be placed on the agenda.

Huh.

Last time a neighborhood resident did this, nobody was very happy -- Bevan Dufty, director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, attended the NWBA meeting at which a senior citizen who wants bus shelters in the area had gone through the process to have the group revisit the issue. "It was a scorcher," said Dufty. "I'm usually the target of people's rage, but this time around they started pulling the bricks off the building and throwing them at each other. It was a slugfest!"

Despite what the NWBA has decreed, Dufty has asked Muni's bus shelter czar to look into the question. "It does seem to me that in a city like this, where it's cold and it rains a fair amount of the time, that having a protected place to wait for the bus can be a good thing," he said, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm probably getting in a hornet's nest right here."

And the Winner Is ...
With the Hearst Corp.'s purchase of the Chronicle and its subsequent closure of the Examiner nearly a done deal, we've decided it's time to wrap up the Golden Handshake Reader Poll, the online vote in which we asked our readers which of the two papers' columnists will keep their gigs after the merger. After all, there are about 35 of them, which seems to us a few more than one paper needs; obviously some will be reassigned, or given healthy contract buyouts.

Naturally, many of our readers interpreted our poll to mean they should vent their spleens at the columnists they really hate. And really, who are we to say this is wrong? So without further ado, the top pick for termination is ... Ken Garcia, with readers choosing, on average, sometime in March for the date of his final column.

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