Earlier this year, George Machuca bought the Precision Wireless business located at 4799 ½ Voltaire Street, located between Ocean Beach People’s Market and a liquor store.
“When I first bought this business it was just a mess,” Machuca told me. “None of the outlets were grounded, it wasn’t up to code, so I had to invest, like, $30,000 to completely redo the property. The first complaint we had — and I didn’t know it was him that reported us — was when we redid the floor.”
The “him” Machuca referred to is the general manager of People’s, Jim Kase, who declined to comment for this story.
“While we were pulling up the floor — this is a 40-year-old building — the contractor had two of his employees outside the front door,” said Machuca. “So, when we removed the debris and swept it out the door, they swept it up — [People’s] reported us for that. The city came and talked to us and we almost got a $10,000 fine. The [code inspector from the city] sat across the street, she watched the store, she watched us clean up the mess. We told her we were going to clean it up...and she said, ‘Well, we’ve got numerous complaints.’ All the complaints were from [Kase]," claims Machuca. "He even confirmed it was him that made the complaints.”
Machuca said he has taken the initiative to clean the area in front of his store but that his efforts are met with complaints from Kase.
“There is only a faucet in here, there is no drain,” Machuca said. “Now, because we have no sink or toilet to dump the water in — I contacted the city first. They said as long as [when you dump it] it doesn’t go in the [storm] drain, as long as there’s no toxins in the water, you’re completely fine. I said all right….
“So, my biggest thing is the homeless — no offense towards them — they come here every Thursday, get off at the bus stop, go straight to the church and eat, then they come back down and hang out along the sidewalk and the bench; that’s typically a Thursday thing. But the biggest problem I’m encountering is they sit here nightly. They drink, do dope, whatever they’re doing — pardon my French — and they piss and crap….
“So, I come every day and the filth, it stinks, so what I was doing initially — and this is when I learned I can’t do this — is take a bucket of water and just rinse it, wash it away. A couple times it went into the street. That’s a no-no, but there is nobody cleaning this. So, we’re doing that, cleaning it and cleaning it, and Kase has one of his employees put a note on the door…saying, ‘Hey, it’s neighborly that you don’t put water on the ground…you don’t do this and you don’t do that’…. So I confront the employee who put the note on the door and he took off.”
“One problem I was having — I told my landlord — is that the bums are accessing the faucet out here in front of my store, so she had the contractor close off the spigot…. She sent an email to myself and others, including Kase.”
The email from the property owners, sent in July 2017 to both Machuca and Kase, reads in part: “Last week we had the outside water spigot capped off. Our water bills had gone up 470% in the last 4 months…. The new owner had observed gathering of homeless at 9 pm at night filling canteens and buckets of water in the previous weeks. The handle had been removed and we were unaware.”
The July 24, 2017, email response from Kase to the property owners reads in part:
“As far as the phone store goes, we have had some issues. I live on Voltaire a few doors West of Jack in the Box and I walk the street several times daily. I have never seen groups of people gathering at the spigot. Several staff members, including myself, have seen young girls coming out of the phone store and dumping five gallon buckets of water (not clear water but cloudy and some with toilet paper and clumps of what appears to be plaster) on our plants and the trees along the street. This has been on an almost daily basis.
"They have also been dumping them in the gutter and in the back alley. The dumps in the alley were mixed with the blue paint that they have done the floor with. I asked them to stop dumping in our plants and they seemed to have stopped, but we are worried about the un-pure water going into the storm drains. It is illegal and carries a hefty fine. When they first took over the space they were blowing construction dust out the front door onto the sidewalk and into the street. The cloud was so thick I first thought the building was on fire. The sidewalk in front of the store was unpassable. We try to be good neighbors and live and let live, but many of us are concerned about the dumping of lots of water and more importantly the health of the children that have been working in the unit.”
Machuca said, “I was pissed, so I contacted our city code-enforcement officer, Anita Koyama, again, and I said…the owner even came out and inspected the alley and confirmed that there was no paint there — so that was probably the third false statement he made. He also claimed I was throwing construction debris in the plants — again, I called the code-enforcement officer and said we haven’t even done any construction for over 45 days: there’s no paint, there’s nothing going on. Ever since he put the note on my door and started harassing my employees and kids, we left it alone…. She told me it’s okay to rinse it off, put some Simple Green in the water. She agreed [the sidewalk is] filthy, so she gave me the green light, as long as it doesn’t go into the street....