San Francisco Habitation, Take Two

Last week I took two days off work and, combined with the three day weekend, uprooted my San Francisco existence to date, relocating to the Dogpatch. Not coincidentally, Richard did the same thing, on the same day.

It’s sort of hard to believe it was over two and a half years ago that dad and I drove cross country, spending three days in Motel 6’s and a 16 foot Penske truck along with Maddie. When I was in Indiana for Thanksgiving he said, “Well, I guess you’re coming up on two years in California; how does it feel?” “It feels like I’m coming up on three years,” I said dryly. He was silent as he did the math, realizing that the time has flown, and hopes that life in California is just a phase are just that.

400 Duboce Avenue was a great place for me to land back in 2007. It was close to the Castro, without being in the heart of the Castro. It was convenient to the grocery store. I had plentiful transit options just outside my door. And it turns out lots of people I made friends with were often passing through the neighborhood. But it’s been time to move on for a while.

So I moved to a loft in the Dogpatch on Saturday. I love it, whole heartedly, inside and out. We saw a friend on New Year’s Eve who said, “Man, you should be moving to the Mission, where I am. You just go outside your door and shit’s goin’ on; there’s nothing going on out there.” I simply smiled and said, “Yes, exactly.” Walking Maddie in the evenings, I am delighted at how quiet it is, how non-confrontational. For the first time in two years, I have a kitchen table that isn’t doubling as a desk. And I have a kitchen with actual counter space. It’s like I’ve graduated from the race car bed to the big boy bed; I sort of feel like an adult again.

I made a roast on Monday night for dinner. Richard and I sat at the table — as opposed to on the sofa — with Maddie sitting next to us, patiently waiting to be rewarded for her inherent, obvious goodness. Sitting down to that meal, sitting at that table, I had this feeling of belonging and of home. This is exactly where I want to be right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing San Francisco in a whole new way this year.

Although now I don’t have a desk, so I guess there was an obvious trade off there. But I do have room for both, now, which is a change.

I think the last time I felt like I had a really adult residence was in my house in Fort Wayne. I don’t think I really appreciated that feeling until this week.

date:2010-01-21 21:29:51
category:my life
tags:400 duboce, dogpatch, move

400 Duboce #113, Now from “Greg Apartments”

So things are continuing to get a little weird at my current building. First, management was “transferred“ to FirstApts. I put transferred in quotes because, really, it’s the more of the same: same phone numbers, same people, same lackluster management. Apparently an exercise in branding, trying to excise the CitiApartments name from people’s memory (for some reason). You could write a case study about how not to rebrand yourself in the 21st century based on this. Their old email addresses start bouncing, their old domain doesn’t even redirect. Hell, even some of the email addresses they put on the letter to residents bounce as non-existent. (When calling to let them know, the receptionist is hardly interested, telling me, “someone ought to update that sign.” Yes, someone indeed.)

So it’s a little strange, given all this effort to present a new, uniform brand, to see the following on Craigslist (thanks, Richard!) (cached copy):


Huh, that looks like 400 Duboce. But “Greg Apartments”?


Yup, that’s unit 113, the first one I looked at when I was looking at the building (it was leased to someone else before I got my application in two and a half years ago).

Greg Apartments website also has contact information; that’s a different phone number than Citi, er, FirstApts uses, but 2099 Market sounds awful familiar. Oh, right — that’s the same address at Citi and FirstApts. Digging a little (but not much) deeper, we find that is registered to none other than FirstApts, with Greg listed as the technical and administrative contacts.

All these shells, and they’re still trying to raise the rent.

Updated 2012-10-24: Removed Greg’s contact information.

date:2010-01-05 22:01:31
category:my life
tags:400 duboce, citiapartments, firstapts, gregapartments

Communication and Trust

This afternoon I left work early to visit my landlord and try to iron out an issue that I’ve been dealing with for over two weeks. The issue, ironically, is that I want to give them money. Some would even call it rent.

The issue boils down to this: I was having my rent debited from my checking account and wanted to stop. I called and left a message asking how to do that, and never heard back. I called a few more times, asking if it was indeed going to keep going, or if I should write a check (you know, cause I want to pay my rent on time). I never heard back. I left two notes at the office for the building accountant (“Jeff”), sent an email to the accounting email address they post online and called their general accounting phone number. Nothing. The one accountant I did manage to speak to (“Mike Z”) told me that, yes, the rent would be debited for October, but not November. I left my phone number in case that changed for some reason, but never received a call.

When I checked today and saw that the rent still hadn’t cleared, I decided I should follow up. They’re usually not this tardy taking my money, so I stopped by the office today. When “Jeff” finally came downstairs (after not answering his phone when the woman at the front desk called up), he launched right in. “Oh, I guess I stopped things too soon, but if you can just write a check, we’ll call it OK.” Frankly, stopping the debit now is fine with me; but how was I to know? My response, “That’s fine, I just didn’t know I was supposed to write a check, since I hadn’t heard anything back from you,” was met with a simple, “Oh, right.”

It’s obvious CitiApartments is in trouble; our elevator was recently broken for a couple weeks and just after Labor Day a piece of the gutter fell off the second story into the courtyard. Luckily no one was hurt. Google’s cache reveals that my building was (is?) for sale, although maybe that complaint to the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection had something to do with the page going away.

This incident, though, is the first time that my direct experience has been uniformly negative. Up until now I could say, “Yeah, I’ve heard they don’t treat residents that well, but I don’t have any direct experience with that. Maybe it’s isolated cases.” Unfortunately their lack of communication while dealing with this means that I no longer trust them to deal with me in an up front manner. A simple phone call back to say, “yes, we’ll stop debiting your account, when would you like to do that?” would have retained my belief that they value me as a tenant. All they had to do was communicate that they’d received my request and were acting on it, and trust would still exist between us.

Sorry, Citi; I won’t be too sad when you finally implode.

date:2009-10-06 15:16:17
category:my life
tags:400 duboce, citiapartments, landlord, rental