Please Upgrade the Tenants in City Heights Apartment Buildings
(Originally published in the San Diego Reader November 2, 2011.)
On a hot Friday evening in late August, Jennifer Bernal and Jamila DeCarli sit at the kitchen table in their 998-square-foot home on the rim of Fox Canyon in City Heights. Their two small dogs rest on the floor nearby, as does the 70-pound husky they’re dog-sitting. A red-eared slider turtle named Sushi floats in a murky tank near the window.
Bernal, the more streetwise of the two, admonishes her girlfriend DeCarli for having purchased this house, for which she paid $345,000 in 2006. Had they known each other then, Bernal says she would have talked DeCarli out of buying on this street.
“To tell the truth, I was just excited that I owned a house. I didn’t care where it was,” DeCarli admits. “I was excited about living in a diverse neighborhood. I was excited to get out from under the thumb of my snotty HOA in my condo-setting in Hillcrest.”
When I ask if she’d make the same decision today, DeCarli says, “Move here? Hell, no.”
“But do we convince nice people to move in here?” Bernal says of the house for sale next door. “Heck, yes. I tell them, ‘It’s not that bad.’ I lie. I totally lie. Because we want more nice people to move in here.”
The two women are hopeful that the neighborhood is changing for the better — especially since DeCarli is upside-down on her mortgage and has decided to stick it out.
“I’ve been living in San Diego since 1998,” Bernal says. “I’ve seen this transition moving east on University Avenue, from Hillcrest to North Park to Normal Heights, and I’m, like, ‘Keep moving this way! Keep moving toward City Heights!’”
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