District 6 candidates debate on housing

So yesterday, instead of hanging out on our fire escape or enjoying the outdoor seating of farm:table, we spent the good part of our afternoon listening to District 6 candidates ramble on about affordable housing at the main public library. During the past week we had seen signs around the neighborhood announcing the debate, some of them in English, others in Chinese and others in Spanish. Being a sucker for all things multilingual, I liked that.

However, the debate left much to be desired which was foreshadowed by SFMike of the Civic Center Blog wishing us luck after he snapped us a few shots at the beginning and then left. For starters, only 7 out the 14 registered candidates were invited to participate: (from left to right) Glendon “Anna Conda” Hyde, James Keys, Jane Kim, Jim Meko, Theresa Sparks and Debra Walker. Elaine Zamora was also invited but couldn’t come for personal reasons.

Apparently, inviting not all candidates but only the ones who raised more campaign money, more signatures or the organizers like better is a common thing in these kinds of forums. I understand that having a debate with 14 people could be hard to manage, but why deprive citizens of enjoying candidates debating nude? Or finally meet the man behind Pot Talk TV? At least Glendon Hyde could have made the effort to show up as Anna Conda… At least in this forum they allowed the candidates not invited to speak to be present in the room, unlike the the debate organized by the South of Market Business Association about a month ago. Maybe the SOMA guys were afraid excluded candidate Dean Clarke’s dog would bark at the speakers like he did this time when they were introduced? Smart dog, by the way.

Since the focus of the debate was on low-income housing, it was organized by a bunch of groups that advocate for it, and the folks in attendance seemed to be all recipients (or wannabe recipients) of it, the debate was rather repetitive and without much diversity of opinions. I mean, saying anything against low-income housing in the Tenderloin would be like admitting to the fact that there is sometimes fog in San Francisco. We all know the truth (in that more low-income housing won’t fix a single problem) but no one wants to be that guy/girl/transsexual who actually comes out and says it.

Quotes from the housing debate

Debra Walker said San Franciso is one of the most expensive cities in the US and probably the world, so we should find creative ways to keep affordable housing around. Jane Kim also said that “most of us can’t afford to live in San Francisco”.

Jane Kim (and the other candidates agreed with her) said affordable housing is not just about accommodation, but about services too. They all emphasized the importance of the quality of life in the neighborhood, of clean and safe streets. In fact, when asked about Chris Daly, Theresa Sparks said his big downfall had been to focus too much on housing and less on safety and quality of the neighborhood (and also focusing too much on the TL to the detriment of other parts of the district).

Jim Meko said that at one point in his life he lived on Hyde street between Turk and Eddy (I think he said in an SRO) and that “there’s no dignity” in living in a room without a shower or kitchen, “we need to move away from the SRO model of housing”. He also said that we have to prevent San Francisco from becoming “a bedroom community for Silicon Valley”.

Glendon Hyde repeated several times that landlords need to be held accountable for the shitty services they provide (and for bedbugs). He also said rent control should be extended, and that “we should go after the AoA” (yesss!).

Of course, when asked about gentrification they were all against it, but they didn’t really define what gentrification means to them. Theresa Sparks said “what makes San Francisco San Francisco is diversity” so gentrification by a single population group can’t be allowed, “there’s no alternative”. However, Theresa Sparks also said the smartest thing in the whole debate, and something we wholeheartedly agree with:

The Tenderloin needs to stop being a containment district for low-income people, and low-income services need to stop being focused in the Tenderloin. People should be able to live anywhere in the city, regardless of how much they earn.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: James Keys basically said nothing besides “I’m endorsed by Chris Daly” and generally behaved like a jackass with no platform other than empty populism, which in this town just might work…

Note: the post has been ammended to reflect that the candidate who wasn’t let into the forum organized by the SOMA Business Association was H. Brown and not Glendon Anna Conda Hyde as we originally stated. It was an honest mistake and we apologize.

Your package mocks you

Getting your hands on goods that you ordered has to be one of the silliest annoyances of apartment life as you can see by the three units in this shot that are praying the UPS or FedEx flunky will call them. In this day of GPS, satellite tracking, interwebs, and mobile communication, why is it that to get a shipping company to deliver a package when most of us are home (ie, the evening) is so damned difficult?

625 Taylor: For all your landlord dreams!

Every time the first of the month rolls around and rent is due, are you thinking, “Dude this place sucks. If I owned a building, I’d totally run it like, with awesome-ocity”? Well, now is your chance as 625 Taylor Street is on the market. This forest green gem of Tendernobbery is just a mere $3,200,000. What a deal! Actually, when you figure that it has 21 units and that makes them $152,000 apiece, it is kinda a good deal, although this is purely for someone looking to rent out the place obviously. And who could resist when the listing has shots like this? Moving boxes in a junior bedroom are soooo hot! Rar!

Spooky Times in the Bristol Hotel

My Google News alert fed me this lil’ gem, about the SRO Bristol Hotel on Mason Street at Eddy. It’s a newspaper article from the San Francisco Chronicle, dated September 4, 1985. Apparently, some of the Bristol’s residents thought the former room of serial killer Richard Ramirez kept its bad juju even after its Satan-worshiping tenant had been re-housed on San Quentin’s death row. Ramirez, known as the Night Stalker, stayed in the Bristol during part of his 1985 cross-California murder spree. He was eventually convicted of 13 counts of murder, 5 counts of attempted murder, and numerous counts of sexual assault and burglary. The hotel’s manager was critical in catching Ramirez, as he contacted police after seeing a sketch of the suspected Stalker.

Ramirez sexually assaulted, raped, and mutilated women, and during his time in San Francisco he lived in the same building as famous Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM) founder and would-be Andy Warhol murderer, Valerie Solanis. Solanis died at the Bristol in 1988 of emphysema, and it’s not known how long she lived there. Solanas was in her 50’s when she died at the Bristol, twice as old as Ramirez. It’s unknown if they actually ever met one another, even in passing, but it’s certainly interesting to think about what it would have been like. Would there have been a spark of recognition between criminals? Or would they just have seen each other as potential victims?

From the Chron:

The vibrations are so bad in Room 315 at the Hotel Bristol in the Tenderloin that Daniel Sepeda thinks it’s time to bring in the holy water. ‘I should sprinkle some around and say some prayers,’ he said. ‘There are weird spirits here. It gives me the creeps.’ Sepeda and his roommate, James Bowton, attribute those creeps to Room 315’s former tenant, Richard Ramirez. Ramirez is the man police say is the ‘Night Stalker,’ a cold-blooded serial killer who murdered people while they lay sleeping and then scrawled satanic symbols on their walls. Ramirez stayed at the Bristol several times during the past two years, according to manager Alex Melnikov… Melnikov said Ramirez left behind a mysterious odor in the room. ‘It smelled like skunk,’ said one resident who declined to give her name. ‘The cleaning man sprayed like hell, but it wouldn’t go away.’ A five-pointed star, a pentagram, associated with devil worship, was found drawn on the bathroom door…

Breakfast amongst two days of summer

I supposed that I’m blessed to have something of a “balcony” at my apartment which as any of us know is code for “secluded fire escape you toss a chair on”. It’s actually quite nice when the weather is warm and despite technically not being allowed to have anything out on it, this has become my nook for morning or evening noshment if the weather is warm and allows for outdoor seating.

It’s always been something of a mystery to me as to why our homes have very few actual balconies. Not only in San Francisco, which as we all know has summers that are the coldest winters you can spend anywhere (sit down Siberia), but California at large. Given our supposed Mediterranean climate (which in the Central Valley is more of a Saharan climate) you’d think a nice little space outside would be standard. But, no, we are relegated to viewing pleasant days from the sparse outside seating available at the likes of Starbucks instead.

Ah, as a sidenote to this, it appears that Little Bird is very soon going to have outdoor seating as well.

A “loindromat” that loves you back?

About a week and a half ago (six months ago in blog-to-life time conversion), Mission Mission posted an article asking What’s the Best Laundromat in the Mission? An honest question with many an answer.

It got us thinking about the issue because while we have machines in our building, they suck–a lot (they’re these crappy top loaders) and we have to pop out every so often when we actually want our laundry to be properly cleaned on a longer cycle in a front loader. Sometimes this means breaking in paying a visit to hiphapa’s building who has proper front loaders. Other times it means braving the laundromats of the Loin, which can be an adventure straight out of a David Lynch film.

So, we pose the question to our TenderReaders, any laundromats that jangles yer spurs? Any that are a good deal as they all seem pretty damned expensive? Any that terrify you? We often end up at Rainbow on Sutter, mainly due to our shock of their having a website, but surely there are otherz that are more betterz?

Free showers in the Loin

Thanks to the Uptown Almanac, we learn about some interesting sinks in our neighborhood. It looks like if you live in that building, you can get free showers in the courtyard…

New York to Tenderloin: A Love Story

So when I moved back to San Francisco after having lived in Manhattan’s Upper West Side for some years, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The entire city felt small, the pace of life excruciatingly tepid. I was craving NYC’s energy, its amazing pizza, and being able to get absolutely anything I wanted (even just a cup of coffee and a donut) delivered at any time. It’s still hard to get a decent slice in SF, but thankfully, the Craigslist goddess smiled upon me and granted me an apartment in the Tenderloin which had enough street life to give me my city fix.

Turns out I’m not the only one. My boy Jason Hanasik needed a place after a sudden breakup and despite all his FB friends telling him otherwise, he chose to live in the Tenderloin. He says his apartment‘s hardwood floors and prominent fire-escape reminds him of West Side Story. Aww. I don’t know if Jason also moved here from NYC, but I really do like his place, seen above. (More pics here) He even has a poster of that hunky Civil War-era guy who would definitely be a model if he lived today. I think in the 1860s he was executed for treason. What a waste of hotness. Thankfully, Jason’s apartment  isn’t a waste of anything. Jason uses limited space beautifully, which is practically a Zen art form both here and in New York. Well done, Jason. Well done.

What you talkin’ ’bout, realtors?

The gang over at Mission Local has brought forth news that the SF Realtors have revised their SF property map. Those in the Mission have some definite grumbling points, but I’d just like to pick up on the fact that they’ve moved the “Downtown” border to O’Farrell when we all pretty much agree that the northern border is at least at Geary if not even Post.

About the only reason that I can think of for them doing this is the swanky Hamilton Apartment on O’Farrell which is huge, very nice, and seems to always have units up for sale. But it’s just stupid to post a building like that as being in “Downtown” because once someone comes to look at it, they’re going to see that it is very much in the Loin. I realize that agents do this to upsell places, but wouldn’t it make more sense to get people viewing a place for sale who are actually in to the neighborhood as well? There is a thing called the “interweb” and prospective home buyers do use it to check out a neighborhood before buying.

This of course isn’t the only problem with their District 8 map, although I agree with Civic Center stretching across Van Ness, yet not with it being the Polk/Van Ness corridor. The “Barbary Coast” denomination is just dumb (I’d feel totally Trumpish to say that I lived in the Financial District). North Beach has actually taken over the Jackson Historic District. And uh… while I’m shocked to see Western Addition actually show up on the map, where the fuck is Chinatown? To be honest, I’m surprised that they don’t have four neighborhoods for the entire Northeest section of the city: Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, and the Marina. Peace out to everyone living in “Lone Mountain” (wha?)

The guide to subletting in San Francisco

Anyone who has been in this fair city long enough has probably been in the situation where rent control is spooning you very nicely, but need to leave town for a month or more whether it be business, pleasure, or just checking out an animist cult in Nevada City. The question arises: Do you sublet or do you swallow? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve never been in a situation where paying several months of rent is something I could kick back without thinking about.

As to why I’m writing about this here, the TenderNob/Upper Loin area is quite desirable to sublettors due to Downtown and transportation proximity. So here, I present to you, something of a tossed together set of guidelines (based on personal experience) to subletting in San Francisco that you may or may not want to prepare a grain of salt to take with.

1. It’s probably not allowed
If you look at your rental agreement, it will most likely say that you can’t sublet. Basically every agreement in the city will have this clause and even if you own your place, your Homeowner’s Association might not even allow it. For rentals, it’s there so that the owner doesn’t get hosed by rent control with people passing on the apartment for decades. If you move out, then they can raise the rent and they like that. So, as to the severity of this clause, you have to balance out the fact that subletting could indeed get you evicted or, if done properly, no one will really care as long as the person you sublet to doesn’t stay around/cause problems and the rent keeps getting paid.

2. Don’t ask but do tell your building manager
If you have a building manager and depending upon their inherent “cool factor” you probably want to tell them that you’re going to be out of town for a bit and that a “friend will be staying in your place”. Saying that you’re outright subletting isn’t anything that they want to hear as it will get their ass boiled with the building owner were things to go south and if you were to ask your building manager directly, they’d have to tell you that no, you can’t sublet if #1 is the case.

3. Do not sublet to musicians
It doesn’t matter if they’re the new James Taylor, new James Hetfield, or classical musicians. They are not to be trusted and more than likely, they’ll practice at your pad even if they say that they won’t because rehearsal space is a fortune in this town. Renting to musicians is like playing spin the bottle with a whole bunch of ugly girls–you can’t help but be the loser.

4. Do not sublet to anyone under 26
Yeah, I sound like I’m shaking my cane at those “infernal troublemakers”, but really, SF has a pretty happening scene and no end of youngsters want to come, enjoy it, and “experiment” (screw a lot and get high.) If in doubt, check out your potential sublettor on Facebook. If they’re in Australia currently and their profile photo is them drunk, avoid. If they’re under the age of 26 and have no Facebook profile, be absofuckingly afraid of whomever this tinfoil-hat-wearing weirdo is.

5. To store or not to store
So what about your stuff? Do you leave it or store it? That’s a personal decision. Most likely there won’t be any problems as you’re choosing someone to entrust your place with. At the same time, storing items that have personal value might be a good idea as you could easily find some miscreant who sublets from you and steals a whole pile of your stuff because he’s deranged and/or a musician.

6. Couples are the bestest
If you can get a couple to stay at your place, you’re better off. They tend to balance each other out in that if one is sloppy, the other is clean and if one is bad about bills, the other is on the ball. That and the fact that thinking of other people having sex in your bed isn’t the most appealing thing in the world. But really, it’s going to happen whether you like it or not and when it does, wouldn’t it be better to have it be the same two people as opposed to a random train of strangers (#4 comes up again)? Also, be willing to have gay couples. Despite all the openness about gay culture in the US, they still have to deal with a lot of crap growing up and on some level, they’ll often have more respect for your place, especially if an older couple.

7. Pay bills online, but not in advance
Thankfully we live in an era where we can pay just about all our bills online. Make sure to sign up for this as sublettors really don’t want to deal with mailing in your checks and might even flake. Also on that note, set out rent checks for the future and leave them with a neighbor or relative you can trust to mail them in. Given that if #1 is the case, you’ll need to somehow present the illusion that you’re actually still there.

8. Sublettors move shit
It appears that humans always want to put their stamp on their place of habitation. Even if your place is laid out perfectly and dry heaves of feng shui, they’ll still move things. This isn’t a big deal as long as they move them back when they leave. Just be prepared for things to be a bit “off” when you get back.

9. Beware the mid-sublet entry
Your place is going to look weird if for some reason you need to go in to it before the end of the sublet. Try and avoid this because you most likely won’t be happy with what you see. As mentioned in #8, furniture will be moved. Also, your personal smells will be replaced with the personal smells of others and it will be disorienting. In other words, be prepared for your home not to seem like your home.

10. Get paid up front
Get a security deposit of some kind and if the sublet is less than three months, insist on all of it up front. Yeah, that may mean a large cash outlay, but if someone can’t afford that, then you don’t want them because really, if they were to outright rent a place, they’d be paying about this much as well (deposit+first+last). Anyone who wants to haggle on the deposit or the up front rent should be told to take a hike. If it’s longer than three months, you’ll most likely need to take some form of monthly payment, which is tricky. See if you can get them to send postdated checks to someone you can trust to deposit them in the bank each month.

11. Contract it up
Things can go bad in sublets and even if your lease doesn’t allow you to sublet, make sure you have a written, signed agreement with the sublettors stating what is covered in the sublet rent, how the premises should be returned to you (ie in the same condition as rented), how much they’re to pay, and specifically as to when the sublet begins and ends. Whether or not this will hold up in court if things go really badly, it defines some actual boundaries and if for some insane reason you rent to someone younger, make sure a parent or someone else cosigns in order to cover full liability on your place. Because you can end up with this when you rent to single, young musicians: