SF Apartment : April 2016


A Toast to the Tradeshow

by Nora Boxer

The San Francisco Apartment Association’s Winter Classic Tradeshow was held Monday, February 22, 2016. The event was celebrated with a “Vines by the Bay” wine theme. Fort Mason’s Gallery 308 was festive with giant wine-bottle-shaped balloons, candy served in champagne flutes, platters of cheese and crackers and grapes, wine-related accessories and of course the nectar of the gods itself.
Industry service providers, vendors, and nonprofit and city agencies gathered at Fort Mason to network, educate and celebrate with SFAA members and the general public. Additionally, three classes were offered to the public in neighboring Building C.

Putting a Face to a Name
According to several long-time participants, a top benefit to having a booth at the tradeshow is the networking capacity the event provides. “It’s nice to see all the faces of all the people we do business with, because we’re so often on the phone,” said Mirella Webb of Alain Pinel Investment Group. Webb also appreciated being able to give SFAA members market information, promote her current listings and network in general in a market where inventory is currently very low.

Echoing Webb’s sentiments was Paul Gaetani of Gaetani Real Estate. “We like supporting SFAA,” Gaetani said, “and having that direct contact with members is important—that natural interaction that allows you to put a face to a name.”

Manning the booth alongside Paul was his brother Marcus. The Bay Area property management company was started by the duo’s grandfather in 1946.

Matthew Sheridan of ARA Newmark said he was having a lot of conversations about the rental market’s recent corrections. Beyond that, he was simply having a good time. “The ownership community in San Francisco is like a very large family,” he said.

Joe Giovara and Mehdi Star of Colliers International bucked the wine-themed trend by serving their visitors beer. “We’re the voice of the people,” Giovara joked about his beverage of choice. He said he was enjoying interfacing with apartment owners, providing them with recent sales comps and letting them know what’s currently on the market. “Most people are concerned with where values are going,” he said, adding that soft-story retrofit was also a common topic of discussion.

Allison Chapleau of Paragon Commercial Real Estate was providing building valuations and market updates to those that visited her booth. “Most of the owners are really educated, and they want to stay educated,” she said.
Chapleau’s statement was backed by 
solid attendance numbers in the three classes on offer this year. Greg Miller of the San Francisco Rent Board held a Q&A session that touched on operating maintenance increase petitions, as well as many questions around everyone’s favorite subject—subtenants. Frank Kim of Eviction Assistance prepared a packet for his class on “Serving Notices,” where he talked about Three Day Notices to Cure or Quit; illegal assignment (when a tenant “passes on” the apartment to a friend); and the need for every unit to have an identifying number or letter in its address, as the sheriff will not evict from a location they cannot exactly identify. Amy Sinclair of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission led the third educational session, which was on CleanPowerSF, a community choice aggregation program that is beginning this year. The program allows an owner to receive power from cleaner sources at the same price they currently pay for PG&E, unless they should choose to opt out. For more information, please visit cleanpowersf.org.

Nuts & Bolts
Back in Gallery 308, one of the more unusual displays belonged to fire escape inspection, maintenance and repair service Escape Artists. Owner Jabal Engelhard, clad in a blue T-shirt that read, “ESCAPE ARTISTS DO IT ON YOUR FIRE ESCAPE,” had brought with him a collection of worn-out hardware from old fire escapes: bolts, cables and safety chains. Many of the large bolts looked fine from the exterior, but had been extremely corroded on the inside—proof that professional inspections reveal more than meets the eye. Escape Artists also had new hot-dipped and galvanized stainless steel bolts on hand for contrast with the decayed parts. “We’re getting a lot more questions in the wake of last fall’s Berkeley balcony collapse,” Engelhard said.

Just a few booths down were Susan Stanich Giaquinto and Rich Henderson of Great Escapes Fire Escape, long-time SFAA members and tradeshow attendees. They offered visitors to their booths a neoprene wine cozy while they talked about the difference between recommended 1-year inspections for fire escapes and city-mandated 5-year inspections.

Rounding out the south side of the gallery was West Coast fiber internet company Wave G. Austin Gaydos, Business Development Manager, said the company pulls fiber into buildings with fifty or more units at no cost; Wave G’s income is generated by residents who pay for the subscription service. The 1-gigabit up-and-down speed means “you can download an HD movie and it’ll be done before your popcorn’s even ready,” Gaydos said.

Community and the Environment
On hand at the tradeshow were representatives from Swords to Plowshares, the veterans’ assistance organization that has continued to work closely with SFAA in its efforts to find stable and affordable housing for veterans. The San Francisco Department of the Environment (DOE) also manned a booth, where they were focusing on energy efficiency and the reduction of toxins in buildings.
Sonia Estrada of Recology, a consulting organization that helps San Francisco best move forward with its recycling services, said the city has a zero waste 2020 goal. Recology is currently focusing on education, as about 10-13 percent of what is still going into landfill could be either recycled or composted instead. In a nice surprise, however, Estrada said that people are composting and recycling more than ever, so there is a need for smaller garbage cans.

Familiar Faces in Changing Times
The attorneys at Fried & Williams, LLP were offering the brochure, “On Pot and Property,” since medical marijuana use and cultivation by tenants has become such a hot-button topic for property owners. (See Steve Williams’ Legal Q&A on the subject on page 30 of this issue.) Steve said the attorneys had also been fielding questions about the Kim Legislation, and that they were counseling property owners to use the 2016 SFAA Rental Agreement, a lease he considers to be the industry standard. Steve said the firm “has always had a really good relationship with SFAA.” He will often teach classes for SFAA members on “Landlord Etiquette,” which, in his words, translates to, “What would the good landlord do?”

Craig Berendt of Berendt Properties popped out from behind a bunch of gold balloons to say, “The tradeshow is always a lot of fun.” He was enjoying connecting with members new and old while seeing how he could be of assistance to those with leasing or management questions.

J.J. Panzer of the Real Management Company was focusing this year on RMC’s 
new rent board passthrough petition 
service for capital improvements. “It’s a newer line of business for us,” he said. RMC property manager John Fedeli added, “We see a lot of passthroughs on the horizon; people are doing seismic work between now and 2019.”
Eric Andresen of West Coast Property Management was offering (and modeling) “wine slings”—wearable around-the-neck rubber devices that enable one to keep track of one’s wineglass hands-free. Eric’s booth this year focused on before-and-after photography of units remodeled between tenancies; his goal was to educate as to how to best add value with simple renovations. Look for more of his thoughts on the subject in the May issue of SF Apartment Magazine in a piece on “apartment turnovers.”

James Wavro of J. Wavro Associates said having a booth at the tradeshow is always like “a homecoming.” He’d talked to many DIY owners who were exhausted and at the point where they were wanting to hire a professional for property management or leasing needs. As the sky grew dark and people began packing up their booths for the night, Wavro added, “The tradeshow is always a pleasure. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Nora Boxer is the interim editor of SF Apartment Magazine. She can be reached at nora@blackpoint

Nora Boxer is the Interim Editor of SF Apartment Magazine. She can be reached at nora@blackpointpress.com.