May 14, 2013
I apologize for the delay in getting my first President’s Letter out to the owners after our Annual Meeting on March 10th. I had intended to send it out within a month – but unexpected obligations in my law practice interfered with those good intentions. You will receive much more timely communications during the rest of this year.
First I want to thank Tom Weber for all the generous and energetic service he’s given to the Suites during his last 3 years as President. Tom put in countless hours, after traveling hundreds of miles from Oregon, to spearhead numerous projects and to work closely with staff in handling important and difficult financial and operational issues. As they say, these are huge shoes to fill. I also need to thank Bernie Mikell for his service on the Board as we all expressed to him at his last Board meeting in March.
I’d also like to welcome Juliann Savage to the Board. Juliann is a long-term owner at the Suites, owns four shares, and has prior service as a board member of her condominium association. She and her husband Dan Berger, a noted wine authority, have offered wine tasting opportunities in the Board Room in the past and I am discussing with them ways their knowledge and interest in wine may be of benefit to Suites owners. The complete election results were as follows:
Chuck Meibeyer 270
Tom Weber 270
Juliann Savage 186
Shelly Davis-King 51
Sue Josselyn 35
Patti Hoar 3
We are pleased to see such interest in the Board. We thank these candidates for their efforts and encourage all owners to consider running for the Board as member participation in a self-managed association is critical to the health of that organization. The three elected board members join Jim White and Dr. Linda Banner as this year’s Board. In addition to my election as president, Dr. Banner was elected Vice-President, Jim White continues as Treasurer, and Juliann Savage was elected as Secretary. The Board welcomes your input and can be reached as follows:
Chuck Meibeyer 707-529-3065 email@example.com
Linda Banner 408-891-7630 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim White 530-304-0403 email@example.com
Juliann Savage 818-314-2344 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Weber 503-970-3241 email@example.com
For your information, the board meetings for the upcoming year are June 23, 2013, August 25, 2013, November 3, 2013, January 12, 2014, and March 16, 2014 (the 2014 Annual Meeting).
For those of you who haven’t stayed at the Suites within the past couple weeks we want you to know that we have replaced all of the televisions in the Suites with 42” HDTVs with WiFi connection. We had received a number of comments from owners regarding the age of the old televisions, and the difficulty of seeing and hearing them, particularly from across the room. We believe the new tvs will be a great benefit. We are also sensitive to possible concerns regarding the aesthetics of this new technology and have considered designing doors that will allow the televisions to be hidden when not in use. We would appreciate your input on this issue in the Owner’s Survey.
The Survey was delayed along with this letter due to pressing workloads. We are finalizing the questions and will be arranging for its delivery either electronically or in written form within a week. In that regard we also want to remind all of our Owners of the benefits of receiving information and notices electronically. I am attaching a “Consent for Electronic Notification” that you can sign to ensure that you can receive all notices via e-mail. In addition, the Suites benefits from these consents by avoiding the staff time and postage necessary to send out these materials by “snail mail”. We appreciate, however, that not everyone wants to use e-mail and we will always accommodate your request on how notices will be delivered to you.
As we have discussed in recent board meetings, the Association’s Bylaws and Rules and Regulations require updating to comply with changes in the Davis Stirling Act and I have made it a priority to take on that project this year. You recently received notice about an Executive Board Session. That meeting was held to discuss personnel matters and the Board determined that its employee handbook, job descriptions, and employee policies and procedures are also in need of updating. The result of the Executive Board meeting is the Board’s decision to hire The HR Manager, a local human resources consulting firm that works nationwide, with a particular emphasis in the hospitality industry. That firm has been hired to review all of our policies and procedures and update them as needed. As the first step in that project their consultant will meet with the Suites’ employees this coming week to ensure we address all issues of importance in that process. All of these efforts are designed to improve the quality of their experience for our Owners, and for our staff.
The Draft Annual Meeting minutes were posted on the website within 30 days after the meeting. For those who may have forgotten, the Suites’ website address is www.sfsuitescsa.com. Although California law only requires that the Association’s minutes be posted on the website, I am attaching those minutes with this letter because it is convenient to send them along in the same mailing. Meanwhile, the Board is also making plans to update the website to make it more user friendly in the very near future.
In those minutes you will see the Annual Meeting was well attended. The Board welcomes the participation of all of its members, whether at meetings, on committees, or by communications expressing your concerns or appreciations. At the beginning of a new fiscal year we need to update the membership of the Decorating Committee. I will be discussing with current committee members their desire regarding continuing service. As we know, every organization requires some turnover so I anticipate there will some available positions on the Committee and I encourage any of you who may be interested in serving on this year’s committee to e-mail me with a summary of your experience with these types of activities, and your involvement with the Suites. Your application will be taken into consideration for any vacant positions.
The exterior remodeling project is almost complete. We have installed new furniture in the gazebo and new LED lighting in that structure to make it more usable for the Owners, while minimizing electricity costs. The new planters were delayed, but will arrive on May 18th and will be installed on either side of each entrance as the last step in that project.
We recognize that a change as substantial as an exterior remodeling can generate much interest and input. I encourage each of you to carefully review the portion of the minutes regarding this issue for further information regarding the Board’s decision, particularly the architect’s recommendations that we found very persuasive (you also received a copy of a letter from the architect along with Tom Weber’s last President’s Letter). In addition, all of you will have an opportunity to provide input on aspects of that decorating process in the Owner’s Survey.
I want to mention an important part of the Board’s duties. Each year we are required to update the Reserve Study for the Suites, including a physical inspection of the building components every three years. That Reserve Study forms the basis for future renovation projects. Among the most immediate needs at the Suites is a renovation of the kitchens. We recognize there are issues with cabinets, stoves, and other appliances. We hesitate, however, to undertake more than urgent maintenance on these issues due to the probable need to make substantial changes in the kitchens. The Owners Survey will focus on what components the Owners desire to have in the kitchens: e.g., are ovens and full-size refrigerators necessary, should we consider adding dish washers, and should there be any modifications to the kitchen seating? Please provide your input in the Survey so that we can begin the process of designing templates for each Suite design, and implementing those modifications starting later this year or early next year.
Some owners have recently raised the possibility that the Owners could vote to sell the Suites in communications with the Board and Staff. It is true that the termination of the CCRs, and therefore the sale of the Suites’ property, is addressed in the CCRs. But, section 8.2 (a) provides that only a “Super-Majority” of the Shares may terminate the CCRs anytime after the 30th anniversary of the Association’s commencement in 1983. The 2006 First Amendment to the CCRs confirmed that a “Super-Majority” of the Shares is more than 75% of the Ownership. Given the love and appreciation for the Suites by the Owners I can’t fathom that any such Super-Majority would ever approve, or even consider, the possible termination of the Association. I think this is an issue that can be put to rest. It does remind me, however, that we are approaching our 30th anniversary of the Suites. The Board will be asking for input from the Owners in the Survey about how this anniversary can be observed, but believes that the Association’s budget doesn’t contain room for significant expenditures. There may be a way to observe the event and have costs borne by others if there is sufficient demand so we are eager to hear your thoughts.
As a lawyer I tend to go on quite a bit, but I wanted to address a number of issues of importance to us all. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the Board members.
March 5, 2013
San Francisco Suites Owners
Once again 2012 has been a very busy year at the Suites. I am happy to report that we have completed many long anticipated and much needed repairs and improvements.
The property management and accounting systems continue to be improved in order to provide greater flexibility and efficiencies.
A new security system has been installed for the safety of both guests and staff.
The current phased remodeling of the individual suites, lobby and board room is almost completed.
Remodeling of the manager’s office, employee’s area and storage area were completed last year.
The exterior renovation of the building that has been in the planning stages for some time is nearing completion.
The building was in dire need of repainting and significant repairs so the Board took a thoughtful and considered approach to determining the best course of action within our budgetary requirements. The entire process of interior and exterior renovation has taken three years of deliberation, planning and implementation. The process has been open to all and we encourage owner’s involvement in these and future projects. I can attest that all of the participants who worked on these projects are committed to the Suites and have been focused on making improvements that enhance our special place.
I am including a letter from our consulting architect explaining the lengthy and deliberate process we went through to arrive at a plan for repairs and renovation of the exterior facade of the building. The Board took a considerable amount of time to consider options and alternatives in light of the painting and repairs that were required as well as the local governmental permitting requirements.
We have been able to maintain our annual assessments with modest increases thru savings in operating costs thanks to the efforts of our General Manager, Henry Potter. However, we have experienced significant repairs and replacement, maintenance and improvement costs that have been funded by the savings in operating costs and from our Reserve Account.
The Board commissioned a new Reserve Study last year and an analysis of future funding requirements in order to confirm an accurate repair and replacement schedule as required by law. The Board recognizes this is a historic building that requires constant maintenance and repair. The Reserve Study recommends that we will have to increase our reserves over the next several years in order to meet future funding requirements. The increased contribution to the reserve fund combined with additional operating costs beyond our control resulted in modest increases in our annual assessments. The Board considers any increase in our assessments very seriously and has determined that some increases were necessary to insure the financial future of the Association. The Board is entrusted with the responsibility to oversee the management of the business, maintain the property, make repairs and improvements when required, protect our investment, spend our money wisely, and to assure the financial integrity of the Association.
I would like to acknowledge those who have contributed to the success of the Suites this year; Henry Potter, our very capable General Manager and his competent, hardworking and friendly staff. The Decorating Committee for their extraordinary contributions and the members of the Board who have committed their time and considerable talents to the Suites. And to the Owners who care for and about our very Special Place.
President, Board of Directors
San Francisco Suites on Nob Hill
S í o l
I n t e g r a l A r c h i t e c t u r e P r a c t i c e
311 Fillmore Street, SF. CA 94115
t 415 655 9722
Working on a sensitive project of this nature demanded thorough research and working very closely with the Historic Preservation experts at the San Francisco Planning Department.
The first step in any historic renovation is procuring information on the building's past. After several visits to the San Francisco Public Library, and with help from the records department at the Planning Department, we were able to ascertain some key information. We found significant information on the architect, the contractor, how much the building cost to erect, the dates of construction and a key photo showing a side facade profile of the building from Powell Street taken in the 30's. The original structure designed by the architect was very much Edwardian. It was built at a time directly after the 1906 earthquake when the mood was more somber and the architectural language was not over frivolous or ornate. There was a more elegant simplicity that almost bordered on the austere in many cases. The colors of the buildings were also toned down and did not have the same fanciful exuberance that many typically Victorian buildings have. I have attached the historic investigation information for your review.
After meeting with the lead preservationist at the City, Moses Corrette, he asked that we bring back the authenticity of this aged structure and strip it down to its former self, removing the layers of postmodern pseudo Victoriana that it was drowning in. It was shown that the superfluous layers of form on the facade, such as the skeleton towers, the diamond language and the stained glass screens, had zero historic relevance and were only integrated during the remodel in the Eighties. The paint color palette imbued on the facade also did not reflect the time and language of the authentic structure. We were also advised to take off the asbestos siding on the facade to reveal and restore the original redwood siding that exists beneath these layers. However, after some site investigations, this move would have proved too costly. We were advised that the only true architectural features remaining were the intricate cornice detail and the exterior metal staircase above the Pine Street entry. Hence, our facade celebrates the top cornice and brings attention to the Pine Street metal staircase. We also took the language of the staircase and reiterated this design on the new metal screens that we installed on the ground floor. Though the gazebo was not part of the original structure and separately added perhaps mid-century (we have no exact record of this), it was agreed that it could remain as it was well integrated into the architectural language of the facade.
We were guided by the Preservation department in making these decisions and they were in complete alignment with the facade redesign throughout the design process. The City Preservationists would not have signed off on our permit and allowed us to do this work unless they were completely satisfied with our strategy. This type of collaborative discussion with the City is typical for this type of historic project. The fire department were also closely involved in the project and asked that the existing stained glass screens be removed per present day egress codes in case of a fire. The screens had been fixed in place and were a hazard in their existing locations.
I personally think that the remodeled facade has now a much more elegant and refined presence that it's previous incarnations. It stands proud as a direct authentic reflection of its time and place in San Francisco history. It has been stripped of the superfluous layers and is a testament to the in depth design process that we went through.