Today (Friday, May 25th, 2012) I received a “Written Notice Violation” of my lease for taking pictures inside the building. Apparently, I am guilty of “taking pictures of staff in the manager’s office” and for stating that “I do not speak to liars” when asked to converse. Last but not least, for creating a “nuisance by annoying, disturbing, inconveniencing, or interfering with the quiet enjoyment and peace of any other tenant or nearby resident” because… “other tenants” have complained (allegedly) about my photo documenting. For a look at all of the write ups that I have received in my seven year tenancy here at the All Star Hotel, click this link.
I have never taken a picture of a tenant without their permission and I try to be completely unobtrusive in consideration of my neighbors. I do not take shots when tenants are in the vicinity and lower my camera until they are out of the area or, come back at a later time when they aren’t around. I have only been asked once not to photograph a person, and that was in response to me announcing myself first, by saying that I WAS NOT including that person in my picture taking. “Alright, good because I don’t do photographs” to which I responded “OK, I won’t get you, thank you”. Whenever conditions are favorable, I try to take advantage of natural lighting and turn the flash off.
I have been taking pictures throughout the entire building for well over three years now, without so much as a single complaint. It is only now since announcing that I was starting a weblog about this place (two days ago in fact), that the issue of me being a shutterbug has suddenly become a “serious” problem. No matter, for after three years of continuously mashing on the aperture button, I have an ample supply (thousands) of shots and video from which to choose. I guess it was OK to take thousands of pictures so long as it was believed that we were too functionally and technically illiterate to do anything meaningful with them (there are few young or educated people living here). Once however, the threat of widespread public exposure loomed, my photo and video documenting activities became a potentially serious PUBLIC RELATIONS CRISIS FOR SLUMLORD TENDERLOIN HOUSING CLINIC.
Conversely, since learning of my blogs construction, I have received nothing but praise and encouragement from my fellow neighbors. They have seemed to find in me a “champion” of sorts, one who is uniquely positioned to accomplish what they themselves would like to do, but are simply too hobbled to muster. To tell our story that is, to both the local San Francisco tax paying public (who are being ripped off) and to the world at large. Hopefully, and at long last, breaking the oppressive strangle hold of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, poverty pimping monster. Sunshine after all, is a natural disinfectant.
An overwhelming majority of the pictures I’ve taken are of the deplorable conditions of the building itself, for which numerous Department of Building Inspection violations have been issued and remain unabated. I have also taken a total of six (6) pictures and four (4) short videos of staff at various times (and over a period of months) doing things that I and other tenants have complained about, all to no avail. I took pictures of staff doing such things as dragging leaking trash bags down the carpeted halls, throwing those bags out of the window to burst on the side of the building below (a violation of house rules for us tenants but not staff).
We (the tenancy) have complained that having the image of a convicted sex offender, drug dealer, violent felon and gangster was not appropriate in a much lauded “supportive housing” setting such as this, and that it sent the wrong message. The people who live here are trying to get off drugs, rehabilitate and leave criminality behind. Why on earth then, would you shove an Icon in their face who, before being murdered, was the very antithesis of those goals? General Manager Kia Bautista however, thinks that Tupac was “a poet” and refuses to take his glaring portrait down. My belief actually, is that Kia wishes to in some alternate way, convey and express her own repressed gangster values with this portrait. Ms. Kia Bautista you see, just happens to be profusely covered with gangland tattoos herself, very much like her Idol, the late Mr. Tupac.
She must be ashamed of them (her gang tattoos) since she hides them under layers of clothing. If she (Kia) has enough consideration to hide all of her many gang tattoos, why then will she not take down the portrait of her Gangster Idol so that we aren’t forced to look at that either? Maybe what she hides from the general public is alright to expose us to. Maybe us lowly dregs of society need not be extended the same consideration as more worthy, normal human beings. After all, we’re all former homeless and should be grateful to live in a cardboard box, let alone a shabby hotel with crooked walls and floors. Anyway, all of the aforementioned bad practices by staff are still going on to this present day, without a word of reprimand from Kia. Throw garbage out the window, attracting roaches and mice well, that’s A-OK. Take pictures of a building that is literally falling down around us and it’s time to head for eviction court. Kia must have Al Capone somewhere back there in her family tree. I guess my complaints as an activist tenant are completely ignored while a few select others (unenlightened kiss-asses more than likely) are honored. I’m only trying to improve our decrepit living conditions and assure a supportive atmosphere for my neighbors whom I really do care about, something that Kia’s unheeded job description says she should be doing but does not. Many of us pay full rent by the way. (see tenant complaint, management response and tenant response to management response below).
In our building, we have a system of video cameras that I was told, are also Internet enabled. There are fifteen cameras total. I find it interesting that tenants are under surveillance from the moment they leave their rooms however, the corridor containing managerial offices is devoid of camera coverage. These offices are those of General Manager Kia Bautista, Resident Manager Vien Do (his very spacious apartment rather, with private kitchen, bath & rest room, three times bigger than a tenants “hovel”), and the Case Manager’s office. Why is it that tenants are under constant surveillance while management is not? Why the double standard? Maybe because staff are instructed to observe any incident that happens in that corridor (like a heated disagreement between management and a tenant) so that they can concoct their own story without a video to say otherwise? Whenever there is any kind of commotion there, many employee heads suddenly appear. You have read in my complaint above, I was indeed concerned about false allegations, and this was BEFORE I learned that there was no camera coverage in that lone corridor.
I have no voice in objecting to being put on an Internet enabled camera, in my own home, beaming out to God knows who, yet I am not allowed to take snapshots? Hypocritical, oppressive and Orwellian. I also find it peculiar that Kia will not allow tenants to review the building video should any incident involving them go down, without getting a subpoena. After telling that to a tenant, Kia doesn’t bother to also tell them that in order to get a subpoena (something most of us don’t know how to do) you have to file a lawsuit first. Oh, did I forget to mention that the Tenderloin Housing Clinic non-profit property management company was founded by a slime-ball attorney named Randy Shaw? They all do so enjoy beating us poor, dumb tenants over our heads with their legal acumen, and train management staff to do a pretty decent job of it as well.
The “write up” at the beginning of this post came just two days after I submitted a complaint stating, among other things, that I had established a blog to highlight the poor management practices and uninhabitable living conditions, here at the All Star Hotel. Do you think that maybe that might have had something to do with me being prohibited from taking pictures? Hmmm, not to seem “paranoid” but I do wonder, I do wonder. Anyway, what I am quiet sure of though (and is also common knowledge amongst us 100 or so tenants) is that there exists a small cabal of five to ten “tenants” whom, and for whatever reasons, are willing to write or say, praise in public and “testi-lie” in court to, pretty much anything that General Manager Kia Bautista wants. The predominate opinion is that some form of rent forgiveness is awarded for obedience and loyalty. If you were to examine the witness lists of all the evictions that Kia has participated in, you would probably see the same arse kissing, “tenant” rogues gallery of names witnessing for the plaintiff (Tenderloin Housing Clinic and Kia), over and over again. I could name a few names however, being an eternal optimist, I’m always hoping that rehabilitation and enlightenment will somehow trip up and ensnare those few pitiful souls who are still stumbling around in the darkness.