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

president’s letter march 2022


As the President of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Suites I am writing regarding the March 12, 2022 Board Meeting and Elections. The Report of the Inspector of Elections is attached, but I need to add additional information regarding the new Board positions.

After the results of the election were revealed, Linda Banner, a current board member who was reelected to the Board, disclosed that, due to personal circumstances, she had decided that she could not continue serving on the Board, and resigned from her position. Those of us who know Linda, and have worked with her, are very appreciative of all of the contributions she made to the Suites as a board member over a number of years, particularly in areas of interior design, employee relations, and as a calming influence on the Board. We respect her decision and will miss her dearly.

The Board of Directors then immediately elected Dwight Walker, who finished a close third in the election, to replace Linda on the Board as provided for under the Association’s Bylaws. Also joining the Board is Fred Munroe, who received the most votes in the election.

The Board elected the following officers for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors:

President Chuck Meibeyer
Vice-President JoAnn Trembath
Treasurer Dwight Walker
Secretary Fred Munroe
Member at Large Jeff Reichel

We all expressed our sincere appreciation to Geoffrey Bellah, who had served on the Board for many years, including a number of years as President, and who is now required to step down from the Board due to term limits. Board members and owners noted the many contributions Geoffrey made to the Suites during his service, including particularly all of his efforts in addressing the impact of COVID and the restructuring of the Association’s Bylaws, at the Suites, as well as his calm, friendly, and helpful demeanor. We know Geoffrey loves the Suites and will continue to help in any way he can.

While two long-standing Board Members have left the Board, I am very excited about the talents and experience that both Fred and Dwight bring to the Board and look forward to working with the entire Board to do all that we can to continue to maintain the excellence, and the warm spirit of the San Francisco Suites. We are also fortunate to have our General Manager Cynthia Reid available to continue to work with the Board and owners toward making the Suites a wonderful “home away from home” for all of us. Please let Cynthia and the Board know if you have any suggestions or questions regarding the Suites – we are here to serve you as best we are able.

Very warm regards,
Chuck Meibeyer

President’s last letter

My Last “President’s Letter”

It is not uncommon for a professor, upon retirement, to offer up to the academic community a summation of his or her career in a formal presentation usually titled “My Last Lecture.” As I reach the end of my tenure on the Board of San Francisco Suites, as both Board member and President, I’d like to offer the Association some parting thoughts which I hope will appropriately characterize the Board’s work during the past six years and inspire other Association members to carry it forward by joining the Board.

None of the Board members with whom I’ve served, including myself, came from backgrounds in the hospitality industry although several had related experiences in law, interior decorating, accounting, and real estate development. As a retired English Professor, I admittedly brought little to the Board Room table except having previously served on my Palm Springs condominium’s HOA Board. However, I must say that serving on the Suites’ Board for anyone involves accelerated coursework in real estate law, hospitality practices, interior design, and construction, not to omit Human Resources and even psychology. Suddenly one feels as if he or she has acquired several new degrees in fields far from one’s own specialty but which have very practical and immediate outcomes on the Association’s success.

The Suites Boards on which I’ve served have done their work extraordinarily well, carrying out their regular duties with dedication and intelligence, but also meeting sudden challenges and crises with a seriousness of purpose and a commitment to get the required work done well and efficiently To give a few examples of the former, I must mention the kitchen and bathroom remodeling as well as the rooftop landscaping, the gradual raising of staff salaries and improvement of their benefits, reupholstered chairs and window seating throughout, the renovation of the “4” suites, new hires to replace retired staff, and the sales or adoption of Suites-owned shares to assure the Association’s major revenue source. Of course, none of the above could have been accomplished without the General Manager’s essential help and expertise.

Regarding the Board’s resourceful, even imaginative responses to the unexpected, I must identify two: the need to immediately revise our Bylaws and other governing documents to comply with Governor Newsom’s signing of SB 323, which in effect voided our election rules; and the best actions to take during the Covid-19 pandemic to safeguard guests and staff. Eventually “restating” the Bylaws, with the Association’s approval, divested the Association from California’s often irrelevant and burdensome Davis-Stirling Act, which oversees HOAs but poorly fits timeshares – in effect a “Declaration of Independence” for San Francisco Suites!

With a foresight not given to many others in San Francisco’s hotel industries and timeshare organizations, who remain closed to this day due to staff shortages, this Board decided to keep the business of the Association operating during the mandated shutdowns to handle reservations, to maintain and secure the property; and to not lay off any staff, thereby ensuring that our staff would stay healthy, not seek employment elsewhere, and could return to work at the last minute. This was done without any budgetary shortfall, mostly because our revenue is not dependent on bookings but on assessments and partly due to the government-provided Paycheck Protection Program or PPP loan, which was subsequently forgiven precisely because we kept all our staff employed.

Once the Suites reopened, the Board devised a compensation plan to allow owners who had lost share time during the shutdown periods to rebook that time up to August of this year. It was an extraordinary move, given the Bylaws’ prohibition on banking unused share time, but the Board felt strongly that doing so was fair and that it would create goodwill and confidence in the Association. Were we not independently owned, managed, and governed, unlike so many corporate timeshares, the Board would not have been able to act in a way specific to our owners’ needs and preferences.

Finally, I must say that what is truly exceptional about the San Francisco Suites is precisely that responsiveness to our ownership, in making sure that every guest feels as if he or she were visiting their very special second home, which incidentally is shared with an extended family of over 600 people. The Board’s explicit function is to ensure the financial integrity of the Association while maintaining or even enhancing the high standards of service and accommodation that owners expect of San Francisco Suites. I can say with confidence that for the past six years this Board has met and even exceeded these responsibilities.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to serve you.

Geoffrey Bellah

President’s Letter August 2021

Greetings to all Owners and Friends of the Suites,

The San Francisco Suites City Share Owners Association was incorporated in January 1983 soon after the conversion of what had been a nondescript apartment building at 796 Pine Street into the San Francisco Suites on Nob Hill, with a more prestigious address at 710 Powell Street. The developers’ intentions had been to create a full-service, luxurious urban timeshare in a style mostly evocative of the Edwardian era, but with contemporary conveniences (jacuzzi tubs, stereo systems with turntables) and modern flourishes (art-deco stained glass). To accomplish their stylistic goals, they embarked on a shopping excursion to England to purchase antique furniture and period artwork which was shipped to San Francisco in large crates. Many if not most of these acquisitions still grace our facility, from the elegant chandeliers and a large grandfather clock to the variety of English paintings, prints, and watercolors throughout.

As we approach our 39th year of operation, we can point to the high standards of accommodation and service which have endured despite obvious changes in management, Board direction, and even artistic taste. But what I would like to focus on in this letter is a change that we are experiencing now, which may have significant and exciting consequences for our future, namely the changes in our ownership population.

The first members of the Association, who purchased their shares directly from the developers, paid generously for ownership at the Suites; parlors and masters both sold in five-figures. Many of these owners are still members, loyal, even protective of the Suites’ ambiance and traditions, and actively involved in its governance. But thirty-nine years is a long time, and we are witnessing a kind of transformation whereby these original owners are passing on their shares to younger friends and family members, selling their shares, or deeding them back to the Association if they are free of any legal or financial encumbrances. And what we are also seeing is a new kind of owner buying into the Association. These new owners are often from a later generation whose attitudes, taste, and service expectations may differ from those of 1983. Admittedly, they may have bought into the Association precisely because they like the Suites the way it is and would prefer that it not change to suit them. Even so, the large question remains: how do we balance the Suites’ long-standing traditions and old-fashioned ambiance still enjoyed by most owners against some features of modern life deemed essential by many newer and some long-time owners?

Sometimes technology forces our hand, from installing and continually improving Wifi to upgrading our computer-based reservation system. But almost any alteration in amenities or accommodation is met with some resistance. I remember some concern when the smaller televisions discreetly hidden inside the entertainment consoles evolved into larger outside flat-screen sets; or complaints about the remodeling of the kitchens and bathrooms which necessitated the removal of the brass fixtures and oak-paneled cabinets; or the dismay expressed by some at the newer, “busier” reupholstered window-seat cushions which replaced the older, faded, plainer ones. And who can forget the outrage expressed by many owners at the removal of the beloved stained glass windows, allegedly for safety reasons, when the exterior of the building was remodeled? To illustrate a more recent difficulty in balancing comfortable tradition with modern convenience, the possibility of allowing owners to access their share time use and to reserve directly online has been countered by considerable pushback to keep the personal connection of speaking to the Front Desk to do the same.

Being able to respond carefully to the demands or benefits of modern life keeps the Suites relevant, but seeing familiar faces in the lobby and in the hallways, knowing the light and sounds and comforts of a particular suite, being pampered by the staff who seem to know exactly our needs or preferences – these are the qualities that keep us as members, not the strength of our Wifi signal.

I personally believe that participating in this discussion of old versus new to be the most interesting part of my role as Board President, and that the decisions the Board makes on “change” might be the most important legacy they leave to the Association.

I welcome you back to the Suites,

Geoffrey Bellah
President, Board of Directors






president’s letter


March 1, 2021

Dear Members of the Association,

Perhaps it is a function of our recent national Presidential campaign and election, or of heightened interest in political affairs, but the Board and I have devoted a good portion of the past year to issues surrounding our Association elections, membership voting, and the rules which govern the process. I’d like to summarize for you four important items which have recently come before me or the Board and which could have a significant impact on our future as a self-managed and governing Association.

First, you are probably aware of the just-approved revision of our bylaws – a move which was prompted by the passage and signing into law of California Senate Bill 323. This new law created a nightmare for all HOAs, but especially for timeshares, by complicating and extending the election process, and by setting out many new requirements that either seemed irrelevant to timeshares or burdened them unduly. Our “new” bylaws have freed us from the most egregious of these requirements and restored to us our simpler election procedures. The changeover, however, was not easy. First, the Association had to adopt SB 323s new rules by a vote, had to conduct last years Board election according to them, and then had to replace them through revamped bylaws, again needing the Association’s approval through another election. The Board thanks the membership for trusting us as we wended our way through the process and for approving the revised bylaws by a vote of 337 to 7. Let’s hope our newly adopted bylaws with new/old election rules will serve us well, without revisions, for a long time – unless the state intervenes once again.

Even with the new/old election rules, the process remains complicated and fraught with the potential for error. Even one mistake could render an election invalid or subject the Association to a lawsuit. (You may recall that a Board election in 2019 had to be postponed and rescheduled at considerable expense because of a mistake in the voting instructions.) As you may have noticed, the Board has employed an outside agency to conduct the last two elections. In both instances, the agency we hired guarantees the integrity of the process and takes over the more onerous aspects of conducting an election, for example, photocopying instructions and ballots, stuffing envelopes, addressing the same, validating and counting ballots, providing a bonded inspector, and so on – all at a cost not much higher than our own in-house expenses to do the same. I believe strongly that contracting with an outside agency to oversee and conduct our elections is the safest, most efficient, and practical way to go forward in these litigious times.

According to California law, when an Association “owns” properties that have been deeded back to it or returned to it after foreclosure, those properties’ shares can be cast in an election. Currently, our Association owns 17 shares with an equivalent 51 votes, a considerable number if one remembers that in the most recent election only 344 members voted.

The same California law states that the votes accruing to these properties may be cast for various purposes: to ensure a quorum in an election, to help the passage of a resolution before the membership, such as the question to deposit surplus funds into reserves, or – and this is the problematic one – to support candidates running for the Board. Moreover, the President of the Board has sole discretion to distribute these votes as he or she wishes.

Since I have been President, I have cast the Association-owned votes in favor of the revised CC & Rs, the new election rules, the restated bylaws, and of course, the surplus funds resolution, believing that passage of the above measures benefits the whole Association. However, I have not cast any Association votes for any candidates for the Board, a stance that surprisingly does not have the full support of the Board.

There are obvious reasons for me not to do so. I would not want to give the impression that the Board is a self-perpetuating body, protecting itself by favoring only incumbents and not voting for those candidates who are new to us or often critical of its work. And I certainly want the selection of the Board decided by the owners, not by the Board itself or Board President. Finally, I do not want to create a precedent that future, less honest Board Presidents might abuse. My view is that the Board President or the Board should not influence the election. Although my casting Association-owned shares for candidates that I or the Board prefers would be legal, to my way of thinking it would not be ethical.

The last matter I would like to raise here is again related to Davis-Stirling, California’s law governing HOAs, including timeshares. You recently received a campaign letter from a member of our Association in which she publicly endorsed three candidates for the Board. This may have struck you as unusual, unseemly, or even intrusive. However, this member was completely within her rights to contact you and advocate for or against candidates. Be assured that your email addresses were not disclosed to her or to other members. As the disclaimer states, her views are hers alone and do not represent those of the Board, the Association, or the management. The exciting thing is her letter provides the membership with a perspective outside of the ones offered by the candidates’ own statements, and one that can be countered by any other member who wishes to add to the discussion by submitting his or her own campaign message.

Elections, voting, and campaigning may not seem to be the primary foci of the Board’s work, but in this time of bitterly fought campaigns, alleged voter fraud, and challenged election results, I can assure you that as long as I am President of this Board, our elections will be conducted legally and transparently, and always aimed towards helping the Association select the best candidates or improve its governance.

Be well,

Geoffrey Bellah
President of the Board
San Francisco Suites

Presidents Letter December 2020

San Francisco Suites

Dear San Francisco Suites Association Members,
In March 2020 the Suites closed to guests, following the mandate imposed by the mayor of San Francisco on all hotels, lodges, short-term rentals, and timeshares. Then, in September, the Suites was permitted to reopen, with strict safety protocols and reduced occupancy. Now, we are closed again, effective December 6, ordered to do so by the mayor in response to alarming increases in infection rates combined with a serious reduction in available ICU spaces in the city.
As before, we remain in operation with a skeleton staff, to maintain and protect the facility and to answer calls, to cancel and rebook reservations, and to prepare for the eventual resumption of full operations. We learned when the facility was closed to guests for seven months that it needs continuous attention, especially when unoccupied, lest major systems such as plumbing and electrical fail due to inactivity. We also realized that the task of running the Suites is ongoing, whether we are accommodating guests or not, from scheduling and completing repairs to preparing for upcoming elections.
For example, during the time the Suites was closed, decorative grillwork was placed at the Powell Street entrance, providing more security to an area increasingly vulnerable to intrusions. (A planned gate for the Pine Street entrance is currently under review by the city.) The Board Room’s wallpaper, which last year had been damaged by a water leak, was replaced. A new, more powerful wifi system was installed. A second bannister was added to the stairwell between the fourth floor and roof. And, equally significant, protective plexiglass barriers were erected at the front desk to ensure that our staff and guests are safe during interactions.
General Manager Cynthia Reid has been working closely with the staff to ensure they understand the importance of following the health guidelines, whether they are at the Suites or at home. She has also continued the business of the Association, monitoring sales of shares, conducting auctions and adoptions, preparing the budget, anticipating future projects, and maintaining contact with the Board.
We are fortunate that we have such a loyal, dedicated staff who are committed to performing their duties to the highest professional standards, even when doing so might risk their health and perhaps their lives. And on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the on-site staff for their diligence and commitment to the Suites during these very difficult and dangerous times. Also, to thank the staff staying at home but promising to follow the recommended health and safety guidelines as we eagerly await their return to work.
The Board has also been busy during these past nine months. As you know, the long anticipated and once-delayed election for revised bylaws is currently in process, and you should have received by this time your voting packet and ballot. These revised bylaws define and describe us much more accurately than the current version, which under the strictures of California’s Davis-Stirling Act governing HOAs inappropriately places us in the same category as condominiums and corporate timeshares. I urge you to read the letter from the Suites’ attorney Wayne Louvier summarizing the positive changes in the new bylaws which will unbind us from Davis-Stirling and allow us to function more efficiently and independently, especially with respect to elections.
The deadline for returning your ballot is Saturday, January 9, 2021. Please complete your ballot soon, and send it to The Inspector of Elections, signed on the pre-paid envelope that we have provided. The Inspector of Elections, with whom we’ve contracted to conduct this election, will show the ballot count via Zoom on January 9.
As a reminder, you may access the “refreshed” San Francisco Suites website to read the latest information on the pandemic from the Mayor’s Office and the San Francisco Department of Health as well as the current and past editions of the Board meetings’ minutes, the General Manager’s News, and President’s Letters.
I wish you all good health and happiness in the coming year. I know I speak for everyone at San Francisco Suites – staff, management, and the Board – when I say that we look forward to seeing you once again at “your home away from home.”
Geoffrey Bellah, President
Board of Directors