In a city like San Francisco that is constantly evolving, there is a sense of comfort in finding an apartment home like 1560 Sacramento with a built-in community of connected residents whose manager, Paul Arruabarrena, has been an institution for over 60 years. Born on the 3rd floor of this lovingly-restored 1933 building called The Claire, Paul became resident manager in 1976, and is now, with the aid of his trusted cat Joey, the beloved patriarch of the 43-unit community in Nob Hill.
Paul’s memory is as long as his tenure. He recalls every resident by name, and he remembers when Mercury Coupes — now-classic cars that stopped production in 1951– were still lining the streets. He can recount spellbinding stories of the San Francisco of yesteryear since his birth in the Hitchcockian 50’s through the Grateful Dead 60’s, and now well into the advent of Big Tech in the 2000’s. He’s seen it all.
While some resident managers happen into the job, Paul was practically born into it. His grand-mother was the first of his family to serve as resident manager in the 1940s. She was known for always keeping a seat ready at the table in case a neighbor needed a place to eat. Her door was always open and something was always baking in the oven, ready to feed an army. “People were always dropping by to visit,” Paul recalled. That kindness and sense of community is the standard that was carried on with Paul’s parents when they assumed managerial duties in the 1950s; the torch was then passed to him, as he carries it to this day.
The details of this real estate family affair are rich and entrenched in history.
My parents moved to San Francisco during WWII and in the late 40s, and my grandmother earned this position in real estate management, which helped our family immensely.
“My father’s side is from Spain, from the Basque country,” Paul explained. “My parents moved to San Francisco during WWII and in the late 40s, and my grandmother earned this position in real estate management, which helped our family immensely”. When people from the Basque regions of France and Spain visited San Francisco, they typically stayed in the hotels in North Beach. Many eventually settled down with their families in nearby Nob Hill. That sense of cultural connection and diversity lives on to this day at 1560 Sacramento, he said, through older residents that date from ex-pat immigrant waves to the ongoing integration of newer residents from all over. “This building’s people and cultural mix are like the United Nations,” he said.
Paul says his favorite thing about the Claire is “its history, how it looks, and its location. We didn’t paint over the beautiful finishes of the lobby so you can still see original woodwork.” Even the building’s elevator is from a bygone era, seemingly from a film noire movie or Dashiell Hammett detective story.
His love for the building of course extends to the neighborhood, a classic walkable piece of San Francisco history near Union Square’s shops and the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins hotels atop Nob Hill. “And I love that you don’t need a car, it’s very convenient.”
Paul takes care of the regular duties concerning the building, such as maintenance and upkeep, but one of his favorite activities is setting up the building’s Christmas Tree.
Adding to the holiday spirit, he knows every resident and offers help when needed or even just friendly conversation. Paul is as much a part of this building as it is a part of him. “I don’t own this building, but I certainly act like it,” he said. “I take things personally when someone has a problem or needs something. It’s not just bricks and mortar, it’s their home, and my home too.”