The Only Person Who Can Judge Me Is Judy

My appeal has been denied. And it only took a week.

The Court of Appeal had been taking four months to issue decisions which resulted in a huge backlog of cases. So they’ve started summarily rejecting anything filed by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic without review. That’s one way to handle a backlog.

But judges are people too, they have the same real estate investments as their other wealthy friends. It’s in their interest to keep this real estate bubble growing. It seems neither City Government, State Government or the Courts are willing to take on the housing affordability crisis. They know which side their bread is buttered on.

My attorney says I might have to be out of my apartment in 30 to 60 days. He’s mulling our options. I have faith in him, he’s creative and passionate about what he does. And the THC attorneys are about the only ones in town willing to fight for renters. I meet with him tomorrow.


The Eviction Story


Eviction Countdown: Day 22

The rod, or staff, of Asclepius. For some reason I prefer rod.
The rod, or staff, of Asclepius. For some reason I prefer rod.

“When you’re being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like you’re leading the parade.”
–Sally Stanford

The pilasters in my lobby are replicas of the Rod of Asclepius, the symbol for medicine. Which would support stories I’ve heard that there was once a pharmacy in the building. Probably in 1915 when it was first built. I’m guessing it would have been in the unit off the lobby which is now an (unoccupied) in-law apartment.

It wouldn’t have been the only drug store on the block because three doors up at the southeast corner of Pine and Jones was the Fairmont Pharmacy. By the time I moved here that building housed Betty Wong’s laundry service. But the door stoop still had “Fairmont” spelled out in chicken wire tiles. It then became a gay bar, The Gate.

Today The Gate has been torn down and replaced with nondescript condos in the Ed Lee/Willie Brown Developer Kickback style of architecture that is sweeping the City.

A series of rods greets the visitor.
A series of rods greets the visitor.

Half a block west on Pine Street was Sally Stanford’s old brothel where Herb Caen said “the United Nations was really born.” Prominent on her guest list were many mid-20th Century politicians. She herself would later be elected Mayor of Sausalito.

Miss Stanford’s johns would often call her from the Fairmont Pharmacy to gain entrance. It was rumored that long after it ceased being a profitable business the drug store remained open solely to preserve Sally’s entry system.

In the more modern mobile phone era, my upstairs neighbor Jim used to sit at the bar at The Gate and chat up chauffeurs waiting to be called by their clients. Most of whom were frequenting prostitutes down on Bush Street. Unlike the Stanford White designed digs of Sally’s, the Bush Street sex workers were a little more discreet. I have no idea which building(s) they were in.

It seems my block has never been lacking for drugs or licentious behavior. I’ve done my best to fit in.

The Stanford White Whorehouse

1144 Pine Then
1144 Pine Then


1144 Pine Now. Note the gables on the faux Stanford two buildings down.
1144 Pine Now. Note the gables on the faux Stanford two buildings down.

Next: Eviction Countdown Day 21, Chartreuse Lady
Previous: Eviction Countdown Day 23, Check Is in the Mail
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Life on Dirty, Filthy Nob Hill

Yesterday I turned the corner into my entry way and about six pigeons flew out at me. They had been down nesting in the corner. Hell, why not, everyone else has.

Vince Young has said he plans to move his family in but it has been eight months and nothing has happened. And five of the seven units remain unoccupied.

In the 39 years I’ve lived here it has never looked this bad. But when neglected buildings are allowed to stand derelict and there is no occupant activity, this is what happens.

If you want a good feel for Mayor Ed Lee’s San Francisco all you need to do is look at the two people sleeping on the pavement in front of an apartment building that has twenty empty rooms.

Next: With Extra Tartar Sauce
Previous: Second Floor, Women’s Lingerie
The complete saga, From the Beginning

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man?

Rolling back odometers one clunker at a time
Rolling back odometers one clunker at a time

I’ve been watching the Roosevelts on PBS and learned how TR’s pledge not to seek reelection compromised his second term agenda. He regretted it later but he did the honorable thing and kept his word. That we should have been so lucky with our mayor.

Ed Lee was an unknown City Administrator named to finish Mayor Newsom’s term when he was elected Lieutenant Governor. Lee made it clear he was just a placeholder.He solemnly swore he would not be a candidate in the next election. Until the filing deadline approached and he declared he was a candidate.

His reasoning was that, in a town where most people didn’t even know his name, there was a groundswell that could not be ignored. “Run Ed Run!” became the battle cry of the hundred paid volunteers who made themselves available for every possible photo op. The City was swept with the fervor of organized spontaneity that only machine politics and docile local reporting can produce.

Other than sitting by passively and watching diversity in San Francisco vanish, he’s had a rather unnoteworthy reign. In the City’s blood feud with the 49ers he was able to persuade Paul McCartney to have his concert at Candlestick and not at the new Santa Clara stadium. It turned out to be a huge fiasco because of inadequate staffing.

Friends told me it took  3 1/2 hours to get in and reportedly two to five thousand ticket holders missed the whole concert because they couldn’t park. The Mayor responded by adamantly standing behind a no refunds policy. It’s what he does best, take the money and Run Ed Run!

As Mayor, real estate developers are walking all over him as old landmarks are torn down on every block and new luxury condos go up in their place. In a nod to the people, about 10% of the new units are earmarked to be affordable, i.e., $600K instead of a million. In his dollars and cents administration, there’s a lot more revenue in property taxes on condos than there is in rentals.

Meanwhile entire apartment buildings are being vacated in record numbers by Ellis Act speculators. They find it more profitable to take units off the market for five years than to allow current renters to stay. With people losing their apartments, the number of available units dwindling rapidly, and the lack of any new apartment construction, no one has stepped forward to lead us out of the mess. The Mayor’s bold position has been to wait for the State Legislature to pass something, if not this year then maybe next.

The symbol for the crisis is the Google buses that ferry workers back and forth to the peninsula. They stop at several Muni bus stops around the City which probably isn’t legal. Whether the riders are the source of the apartment problem is debatable but they do represent a class of people with a lot of money to burn on housing.

To quell the uproar the Mayor is charging the tech companies a token dollar a day for use of the stops. He cites an old state law that prohibits him from charging private companies for use of public infrastructure. Funny, as an individual I can be fined $200 and towed if I park in a bus stop. But when it comes to our fellow citizens the corporations, Run-Ed-Run’s hands are tied.

For aesthetic purposes alone the buses should be banned. They are ugly, generic cereal boxes on wheels that don’t fit the City’s quaint streets. But San Francisco loves its transportation history and my theory is that someday tourists will have a new option to add to climbing cable cars and sentimental trolleys. It’s only a matter of time before they’ll be selling tickets for the Goog-Mobile at the Wharf.

Inevitably they'll be winding down Lombard
Inevitably they’ll be winding down Lombard


The Eviction Story