Former DJ 'bugged' by landlord
by Tom Kilduff
Former disc jockey and outspoken LGBT personality Jon Zuckman is facing an eviction hearing next week after a long simmering feud with his landlord centered on bed bugs in his apartment.
The property in question, 901 Stanyan Street, is a large yellow apartment building that sits across from the southeast corner of Golden Gate Park and contains about 20 units. Zuckman, better known in the community as Jon Sugar, has been living in apartment #14 since 1982, and took over the lease in 1987. Although he is the only party listed on the lease, Sugar lives with two roommates in his two-bedroom unit, where the rent is $1,217 per month.
Zuckman, 63, suffers from a triple disability of partial deafness, arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder. He first complained about the bedbugs two years ago.
"In 2010 I suffered a bed bug infestation," Zuckman told the Bay Area Reporter. "My landlord strung me along for six weeks until I became strident and asked what he was going to do about the infestation. He responded, 'I ain't spending no money on any bugs.' I went back to my apartment and proceeded to call the Department of Public Health, my disability advocate, and my district supervisor, all of whom gave him a call."
Zuckman said his landlord, Al De Lorenzi, left a message on his voice mail yelling, "You got them all on me don't you?"
Zuckman said that the city had to empty his entire apartment and put his possessions in freezer storage for 10 days.
"The landlord hired an unlicensed exterminator, and the bedbugs came back in six months," Zuckman said. "My landlord proceeded to tell my neighbors the most homophobic stories."
One of Zuckman's roommates, Dave Smith, elaborated on this last point.
"The landlord told us that the bed bugs happened because Jon was bringing boys upstairs and said, 'I don't know what he does to them,'" Smith said.
Although Zuckman has been in contact with nine social service and tenant agencies, he still hasn't found a lawyer to represent him. On December 12, he received a Three Day Notice to Cure or Quit that accused him of several violations to his rental agreement including "allowing homeless people to come into the building and sleep in the hallway" and interfering "with the health and safety and quiet enjoyment of other tenants in the building."
Nader Shatara, a senior environmental health inspector at the Department of Public Health, confirmed that his unit is infested with bed bugs.
"On October 17, 2012," Shatara wrote, "a bed bug infestation was verified at 901 Stanyan and a notice of violation was issued; treatment was scheduled for October 22, 2012; several pest control companies evaluated the conditions but were not able to treat a room filled with more than 1,000 vinyl records and CDs."
Shatara said that the pest treatment required the removal of Zuckman's materials and that Adult Protective Services was helping Zuckman.
An abatement conference was held December 18, Shatara said, and the items were to be removed and treated.
Shatara went on to explain that the first moving company refused the job because they didn't know that Zuckman's records may have been infested.
Zuckman said this week that all the apartments in his building have been treated except for his, because the records have not been able to be removed.
Two phone calls to De Lorenzi seeking comment were not returned.
Zuckman is praised by author Martin Joseph Quinn as "the hippest guy I ever met."
He is "a walking rock [and] soul encyclopedia, strip show comedienne, ex-lead singer of the White Trash Debutantes, former KPFA radio personality, and ex-sex club operator," Quinn said.
Zuckman founded the Gay Artists and Writers Kollective, a loosely connected social group for people involved in the arts. He's been staging free events in San Francisco since 1986.
His hearing is set for January 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the courthouse at 400 McAllister Street.