Pigeon Poop Problems

Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’d like to open my windows and get some fresh air in my apartment. The problem is that the windows and building are filthy grimy and covered with pigeon poop on the outside. The ledge and the side of the building are too. If I open the window the soot all blows into our apartment and I don’t even want to know what diseases could come from the poop. Are landlords required to wash the facade of a building? What about windows? I can still see out of them, but just barely. And if a landlord is required to do this, how can I get mine to do it? Our landlord does the bare minimum to maintain our building.

My friend, Emma, is two and a half years old. She’s a big girl now and doesn’t need a diaper. But three or four months ago she could fill a diaper as well as any 6’5″ sailor who ate all the beans in the galley. I’m talking arm pits to knees! Where does it all come from? It’s as if small children are packed with adult-sized digestive systems. Same with pigeons; they generate a remarkable volume of poop given their size. Maybe it’s because they will eat anything, including the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Everyone who lives in a city has a pigeon story. I used to drive an MG convertible. I remember waiting at a stop light on Division Street. I happened to look up and from the steel girder above I noticed a pigeon’s ass maneuvering to drop a bomb. I couldn’t go anywhere! I ended up with what seemed to be a bucket load of shit running down the back of my shirt. Needless to say, I don’t believe any of wives’ tales about pigeon poop bringing good luck.

In fact pigeon poop is dangerous. There are several diseases associated with p-scat. Pigeons are the subjects of eradication programs throughout the world’s large cities.

In San Francisco, we have laws prohibiting the feeding of pigeons. The San Francisco Department of Public Health has a program devoted to dealing with pigeons and their excrement. If you have already complained to the landlord about the problem in writing and he has done nothing, call them.

I am not aware of any specific legal requirement for landlords to wash windows or facades of their buildings. But I’m willing to bet that there are other issues with the building and your apartment, given the lack of maintenance. Take a look around and check to see if there is peeling paint; windows that won’t open (sealed shut with shit?); cracks in the walls; leaks; other safety hazards, etc. If you believe there are violations, inform the landlord in writing. Again, if he doesn’t respond, call a Housing Inspector with the Department of Building Inspection, make a complaint and arrange for an inspection.

If the landlord tells you there is nothing he can do, maybe he needs a diaper.

Crow & Rose's legal practice emphasizes eviction defense, wrongful eviction and other landlord tenant and real property matters.

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