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Renting houses in San Francisco

Started: 2016-05-05 18:20:46

Submitted: 2016-05-06 20:47:41

Visibility: World-readable

6 February 2016: In which the intrepid narrator settles into San Francisco and finds a house he wants to rent

After arriving in San Francisco, I had the weekend to get settled before showing up at my new job bright and early Monday morning.

Temporary apartment living room
Temporary apartment living room

Saturday morning I unpacked in my furnished apartment in Mission Bay. (This proved fairly easy, since I didn't have that much stuff, but my apartment did not see fit to provide any shelves, so I unpacked my boxes of books onto the coffee table.) I found my building's bike room, an unmarked door off the lower-level garage that was almost, but not entirely, full of bikes. (I quickly figured out that I could use the second proximity tag I was given to access the parking garage on my bike, but it took me until my last week in the building to notice the button I could press on the interior wall to open the garage door so I could exit.)

To-be-read pile on the coffee table
To-be-read pile on the coffee table

My next order of business was to get a library card. I had just enough credit left on my Clipper card (which I'd used on two previous trips to San Francisco, including my interview) to take the T light-rail line from the Mission Rock stop, behind my apartment building, to the main library at Civic Center. The guy at the front desk took my library card application and gave me a card without even asking to see any of my address documentation. (I was a little worried about having the right documentation, since I didn't even have a real lease for my temporary apartment, but I figured that the city library would be less inclined to make a big deal about it, since their mission is to actually serve people.)

My next mission was lunch, and the start of my quest to find the best vegetarian mission burrito in San Francisco. (A mission burrito is the over-stuffed, foil-wrapped hand-held burrito that Chipotle, among others, serve.) The mission burrito began life in San Francisco's Mission district, and I was pleased to find taquieras on almost every corner. I found one such taqueria near the library and ate lunch, then marked the site on my map to revisit later.

Mangels Ave, Glen Park, San Francisco
Mangels Ave, Glen Park, San Francisco

I reloaded my Clipper card and took BART to Glen Park, an elegant Brutalist subway stop next to a commercial strip (including, not surprisingly, another taqueria) on the edge of a hillside surrounded by residential neighborhoods. I walked to a house for rent staging an open house where I met the realtor that my corporate relocation package had hooked me up with to find a place to live. I joined the people inside touring the house and found it generally underwhelming: the layout was weird and the house was dingy. (It didn't help that it still held the current occupants' stuff, and that stuff was dingy too.) The back yard was poorly-maintained, with tall grass growing between the cracks on the patio. The one interesting part was the planter beds on the hillside in the back yard, that looked like they were intended to be a sizable garden, though they were currently overrun by grass and wild flowers. I took some pictures and called Kiesa and we decided it wouldn't be our first choice.

Rental house back yard
Rental house back yard

Our realtor talked to the property management company representative who was staging the open house, who had several other properties in the neighborhood that he was happy to show to me. We drove to an attractive Victorian on Diamond Ave, a block or two up hill from the commercial strip at the heart of Glen Park. The house was quite charming, with tastefully-restored Victorian-era finishings, and was furnished with antique-looking furniture, but it lacked the living space we required. (As it was laid out, it would have worked better for house-mates who didn't want much common living space.) I regretfully passed on the house.

The last house in the neighborhood was across I-280, which probably put it in the Mission Terrace neighborhood (though I'm still somewhat confused by San Francisco's overlapping neighborhoods). This was a three-bedroom, two-story row house, built in 1941, which had been refreshed with a complete paint job. It had some interesting quirks, like aggressive pink tile and fixtures in the main bathroom, which somehow made the whole thing more charming. I called Kiesa and walked her through the house (she had the pictures posted online, but found it difficult to figure out how everything was laid out together), and we decided we liked the house and wanted to rent it.

I've lived in Colorado for my entire adult life, and as such, I think of rosemary as an annual, which grows outdoors for the summer, and will survive only if it's brought indoors for the winter. This house, though, had rosemary growing as a perennial shrub in the back yard.

Back yard rosemary shrub
Back yard rosemary shrub

My realtor gave me a ride back to my apartment in Mission Bay, leaving me to figure out the exhaustive rental application process for the badly-over-subscribed San Francisco rental market. I had one more day to get settled before starting my new job.

I sometimes refer to you by your real names to real people.
- Neelix, 10 March 1999