Letter to Owners

May 15, 2024

Greetings to all Owners and Friends of the Suites,

I’m always reminded of how special San Francisco Suites is when I call to make a reservation. Unlike almost all of its peers in the hospitality industry, I do not have to submit impatiently to a recorded anonymous announcement listing numbered options preceded by the admonition to “listen carefully as our numbers may have changed,” followed by a long wait punctured by repetitive advertising or insipid music. Instead, I’m greeted by a front-desk person whom I know and who knows me, and I’m able to have a real, live conversation where I can discuss my upcoming visit, state my preferences for certain suites if available, and share what’s new in my life with someone who cares about me. Later, the uniqueness of the Suites reaffirms itself upon my arrival when I am welcomed by the front desk concierge with a smile and an offer to accommodate any special requests: help with my luggage? valet parking? a dinner reservation at a popular new restaurant? a daily newspaper? The personalized attention continues throughout my stay, with housekeepers calmly waiting to clean my suite in spite of my late start, with the houseman allowing me a glass of wine after the wine and cheese hour has passed, with a kind inquiry from the General Manager about my dog’s wellbeing, and so on.

I’ve just read in the New York Times that hotels are moving toward a check-in process that foregoes the sign-in at a desk, with guests only needing a code they received online upon booking to gain entry to their room, similar to checking out where one just leaves by closing the door and walking away, without any communication or a goodbye. And daily housekeeping at hotels has gone the way of the dial telephone. At my last hotel stay, I was informed that my room would be cleaned only after I checked out. What about dirty towels? What about the overflowing wastepaper basket where I had left the remains of a fast-food lunch? “Sorry, but we don’t have staff for daily cleaning, and if we did, that would be an extra charge on your bill” was the reply.

I’m sure that most owners did not purchase their shares because they thought of San Francisco Suites as a good deal; they bought their shares because they love San Francisco, and the Suites offer convenient, comfortable, even luxurious accommodations while they are in the City where they can work, enjoy the culture, entertain guests, and just relax. I mentioned “peers in the hospitality industry” above, but I’ve come to believe, and I hope you do as well, that the Suites has no peers, for personal service, atmosphere, location, and amenities, in San Francisco, and few in this country.

You are probably aware that the Board has recently made three revisions to our Rules & Regulations, a document available to you at our website, which provides guidelines for owners, guests, and staff in our everyday operations. The most significant of these derives from a change in ownership which has been slowly but steadily making itself known to us. The San Francisco Suites on Nob Hill was established in 1982, almost 42 years ago, and many from the first generation of owners, those who bought their shares from the original developers or soon after, no longer can travel, no longer wish to travel, or have passed on. The result is an unprecedented number of owners (or their heirs) who want to sell their shares, to deed them back to the Association, or, in the worst cases, to walk away from their commitment and court collections and possibly foreclosure. Our budget depends on the receipt of the full assessment from all owners, a promise they made upon buying their shares; and when many shares no longer produce revenue because they are deeded back to the Association with no likelihood now of being sold or adopted, or because their owners refuse to pay the assessment, then the entire Association suffers. And the number of non-performing shares this year has increased egregiously.

Thus, the Board after consulting with our attorneys, has decided to rent out some of the time held by those shares deeded back to the Association or by those shares whose owners cannot or will not pay their assessments. In doing so, we hope to make up for the anticipated budget shortfall and avoid having to severely increase in the coming year the annual assessment, to reduce service or amenities, to lay off staff, or to impose a special assessment. Renting out share time through Airbnb or similar agencies will not diminish the ability of owners to reserve time at the Suites, it will not change the character or quality of the Suites, it may introduce new, potential owners to the Suites from all over the world, and most importantly it will help us fulfill our financial obligations. (As a point of comparison, all the other timeshares in our neighborhood successfully rent out unused share time.)

Our CC&Rs, in an amendment passed a few years ago, expressly forbid City Share owners from renting out their share time for commercial purposes through a third-party agency. With this in mind, the Board asked our attorneys at Adam Stirling if the prohibition applied equally to the City Share Association. Two attorneys, working separately on this question, reached the same opinion: the City Share Association is not the same legal entity as an individual City Shareowner, and must act for the financial security and betterment of the whole Association. Unlike City Share owners who would rent share time as a source of personal income, the City Share Association, as a non-profit, might rent share time not to increase revenue beyond the budget but to offset revenue loss to meet the budget requirement.

I’ve taken some time to explain the reasoning behind the new Rule #13. (Please keep in mind that it is not a rule change, as the attorneys agreed that our CC&Rs never excluded the City Share Association from renting, only the individual City Shareowners. Rule #13 seeks to summarize and clarify then what is already stated and implied in the CC&Rs, like many other rules.)

I can promise you as President of the Board and as a loyal owner that I will do all in my power to maintain and enhance the experience of staying at the Suites so that it remains that special and unique place I described at the beginning of this letter. I can also assure you that every Director on this Board is committed to a productive year of service to the Association, to guide the staff, to respond to owners, and to ensure the Suites’ financial integrity.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey Bellah
President of the Board of Directors
San Francisco Suites

Rules and regulations announcement

Greetings, Owners,

I would like to call your attention to three proposed revisions to the Rules & Regulations which the Board discussed at its May 4, 2024, meeting. If you need clarification for any of these changes, please contact General Manager, Cynthia Reid at creidgm@sfsuitescsa.com or me at gpb1999@gmail.com. You have 28 days from this announcement to reach out to Manager Reid or to me if you have any comments. After this 28-day period, the Board will formally approve them, and they will take effect 15 days later.

1. The first revision slightly changes the fee for renting the Board Room. Previously the rule differentiated the rental fee of $30 for a reservation from the two set up and breakdown fees at $23 each. Although it may be possible to reserve and use the Board Room without needing set up or breakdown or any staff assistance, this is rarely the case. The new flat $100 fee includes the set up and breakdown and insures the availability of a staff person. Of course, there is still no charge for casual use of the Board Room not requiring a reservation.

2. The second revision changes the advance time needed to reserve Bonus Time from seven days to fourteen days. This change will allow some owners who live farther from the Suites and who must make travel arrangements, such as airline reservations or car rentals, a better chance at Bonus Time. It will also mean that all owners who plan ahead can more easily take advantage of Bonus Time. Certainly, the hope is that as more owners, their designated friends and family members, and share adopters use Bonus Time, the more revenue will be generated for the Association’s operating fund.

3. The third and last change to the Rules & Regulations is an added rule. Rule #13 under “Miscellaneous Rules” summarizes and clarifies the Second Amendment in our CC&Rs, which prohibits individual City Share owners from renting out their share time to unknown third parties through agencies such as Craigs List, eBay, Airbnb, and VRBO for commercial purposes. The rule also allows the City Share Association, however, to rent out time from non-performing shares, whose owners are unable or unwilling to pay their annual assessment. By doing so, the Association hopes to offset any loss in assessment revenue which could result in a reduction in services or amenities, staff layoffs, significant increases in the annual assessment, or a special assessment.

Here is the newly added rule:

13. Can I rent out my share time on Craigs List, eBay, Airbnb, VRBO, or other short term vacation rental agencies? No. Individual City Share owners cannot rent their regular use or bonus time to third parties without any pre-existing relationship to the same owners or the Suites, nor can they rent out share time, regular or bonus, for commercial purposes. Owners with unused regular share time might consider offering this time to other owners on the Suites’ website or exchanging their Use Period through one of the Suites’ Exchange services. These rental restrictions on individual city share owners do not apply to the City Share Association, which may rent non-performing shares in order to make up for an anticipated deficit in the annual budget.

Thank you for your attention,
Geoffrey Bellah
President of the Board of Directors
San Francisco Suites

BOD Election Results Notice

San Francisco Suites on Nob Hill

San Francisco Suites BOD Election Results Notice

Uncontested Election

Tuesday. February 6, 2024

 

The deadline for the applications for the 2 open positions on the SFS Board
was February 1, 2024, at 5 pm.
There were 2 applications received:

Jo Ann Trembath

Nancy Hudson

The SFS Election Rules state:

“When at the close of nominations, the number of qualified candidates nominated does not exceed the number of vacancies, the candidates may be declared elected without the need of balloting and will take their seats on the date set for the annual membership meeting.”

Applications are below:

Please join me in congratulating Jo Ann Trembath and Nancy Hudson and welcoming them to take their seats at the Board of Directors Annual Meeting

Saturday, March 9.2024

11 am

They will both serve 3 years on the Board.

The Annual Business Meeting Agenda will soon follow.

Thank you,

Chuck Meibeyer, President
San Francisco Suites

The State of the Suites – January

San Francisco Suites on Nob Hill

The State of the Suites – January 2024

My very warm regards to the San Francisco Suites owners. I am finishing my 9th year as a member of the Board and my fifth year as President. Due to other commitments I am not running for another three year term. Before I step down, I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

The Suites’ faces a number of challenges. Many of our owners have reached an age where they do not come to the Suites as often, and many in the younger generation do not have the same feeling about the Suites.

Inflation has impacted our ownership; and increased insurance costs and the costs of maintaining and upgrading a 113 year old building require increased Assessments. San Francisco’s reputation has declined due to economic struggles – particularly in our backyard around Union Square and formerly vibrant areas such as San Francisco Center which has lost most of its businesses. And there is no doubt that homelessness, mental illness, and drug addiction are a terrible tragedy in San Francisco.

But Cynthia’s General Manager letters remind us all, however, that San Francisco is still a beautiful City with wonderful restaurants, art, culture, and sports teams. It also has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world with world class beautiful sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, the new Tunnel Top park, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, and the Embarcadero. Cynthia and the staff will continue to inform our owners and their guests that there is still much to love about San Francisco. And the ongoing improvements to the Suites make it a comfortable and elegant “home away from home” for our owners.

As I step off the Board, I want to share with you my belief that we have the best collective Board membership that we have ever had during my service.

This Board is cohesive, thoughtful, intelligent, and hard working – constantly thinking about what is best for the Suites and its ownership. We have faced surprise costs and other challenges, but we have been proactive and creative in managing the Suites and its finances. Jeff Reichel is “termed out” and I am leaving, but the three remaining Board members – Fred Munroe, Dwight Walker, and Geoffrey Bellah – share many leadership characteristics that will provide a solid foundation for the next Board. I hope that those who run for election, and those for whom the owners vote, share those characteristics.

  • Collegiality and Respect. The entire Board works well together because we respect the other Board members, the staff, and the owners, and have worked collaboratively on problem solving. That has not always been true in the past, but it is essential for an effective Board to address the important issues we face.

  • Expertise. Dwight provides in depth and comprehensive financial information that helps the Board carefully plan for the future, and to pivot when circumstances change. Fred’s work in the travel industry provides important insights into how small lodging facilities can provide better services to their guests. Geoffrey served several years as Board President and is dedicated to the aesthetic qualities of our property.

  • Selflessness. None of these Board members are serving on the Board to achieve some personal agenda. Their decisions are made with the best interests of the owners and the staff in mind.

  • Energy. While there are only five Board Meetings in a year, there is a substantial amount of research outside of meetings through various Board subcommittees. Board members need to be hard working to help guide the management of this 113 year old building and complicated lodging operation.

  • Passion. These Board Members have (and those joining them must have) a love and passion for this beautiful property, and the well-being of those owners and guests who stay here.

When voting for new board members – PLEASE choose candidates who share these qualities. The Suites will be much better off if you support those kinds of candidates. It would also be helpful to have women run to serve, the Board needs a balanced membership to reflect the interests and needs of all owners and guests.

I thank Jeff Riechel for his service on the Board. After earlier Board membership (including as President) I reached out to Jeff and asked him to rejoin the Board in an emergency. He has been a valuable Board member and has become a very good friend.

Last, but not least, I have to shine the spotlight on Cynthia Reid, our General Manager. In my nine years’ service on the Board, my most important action was being President when we hired Cynthia as our General Manager. When you read her GM letters, or talk to her in the lobby, it is obvious how much she loves San Francisco, and this incredibly special property. Cynthia joined us after having served decades as the Chief Concierge at the Huntington Hotel and she helped elevate the quality of the customer service provided to our owners and guests. In recent years she has become incredibly effective at helping to find solutions to financial and estate planning challenges faced by our owners, while helping to maintain the financial health of the organization.

I love this property, and I am very honored to have had the opportunity to participate in helping preserve, protect, and enhance the building, and the people within. Thank you so very much for allowing me to have this opportunity.

Sincerely, Chuck Meibeyer

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

January 1, 2024 

San Francisco Suites Owners, 

As we begin a new year, we are preparing for our Annual Owners’ Meeting to be held on Saturday, March 9, 2024, and for the election of two (2) Directors. We encourage those interested in serving on the Board of Directors to complete the accompanying application and review the Board Directors’ commitment pledge. You may also include a one page resume. A candidate must be an owner in good standing and meet the qualifications outlined in the Association’s By Laws. (located on the web site www.sfsuitescsa.com). 

We are a self-managed Association, and Directors are required to attend scheduled Board meetings at least five times a year and to actively participate in the business of the Association. The Board establishes policy, manages the financial affairs of the Association, and works closely with the General Manager, who oversees the daily operations. The Board is also responsible for strategic planning and special projects. Serving on the Board requires a commitment of time and effort, but it can be very gratifying while providing an important service to the Association and the Suites. 

Applications from all candidates must be returned by 5pm on February 1, 2024, in order to prepare the voting packets for mailing to the membership on February 9th, 2024. Applications received after 5pm on February 1 cannot be included in the election. 

Please send your application to: 

Cynthia Reid, GM
San Francisco Suites
710 Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94108 

The Inspectors of Election has been hired to mail the election materials, ballots and to count the ballots during the March 9.2024 BOD Meeting which will be held on zoom. 

Thank you for your consideration, and please remember: VOTE! 

Sincerely, 

Chuck Meibeyer
President, Board of Directors
San Francisco Suites City Share Association

Presidents Letter September 2023

I hope everyone had the opportunity to read the General Manager’s Letter that was circulated yesterday, which reminded us all how wonderful San Francisco has been, and continues to be, despite many challenges.

Today’s letter will not, however, be as uplifting as Cynthia’s. In advance of Saturday’s Board of Directors Meeting, the Board wanted to inform its ownership of some challenges we’ve recently faced in obtaining insurance coverage for the Suites.

At the beginning of July, Farmers Insurance notified us that the insurance for the Suites would not be renewed on September 1st, although we had been a loyal Farmers’ customer for decades. The “official” reason the insurance was not available was because the Suites no longer qualified because the building is more than 100 years old, but that cancellation was really based on a massive failure in the insurance industry, particularly in California, where many carriers such as State Farm and Allstate have abandoned the state. In previous times, many carriers were able to share risks by buying “reinsurance” — we learned, however, that market has collapsed, and carriers are much less willing to take on risks and have substantially increased the cost of insurance if you are lucky enough to find it.

We asked our existing agent to seek out substitute coverage, but we knew that we needed to pursue other alternatives. Through our Treasurer Dwight Walker we were fortunate to get help from Gallagher, one of the largest insurance brokerage companies in the United States – which ordinarily would not have helped a small time share like the Suites. During August we worked exhaustively toward finding possible coverage through both agents and sought ways to lower costs. Gallagher was able to find all the needed coverage but at a substantially increased cost. We received indications of a possible smaller increase from our existing agent, but that coverage failed to be available at the last minute. Fortunately, we had a backup from Gallagher.

Our property and business insurance from Farmers cost us $39,606 from 9/1/22 to 8/31/23. Despite efforts to reduce costs, the premium for the next year will total $140,284 – almost exactly a $100,000 increase. When divided among the 816 shares, that is an annual cost increase of $123 per share (and that’s before accounting for other cost increases, we face due to inflation and continued supply chain disruptions).

We want all Suites owners to know that the Board will continue doing everything it can to keep costs down to minimize the financial burden for our owners during these challenging times.

My very warm regards,

Chuck Meibeyer,
President of the San Francisco Suites