A month and half after a noise and vibration dispute between Schmidt’s and a residential tenant above the restaurant at the corner of Folsom and 20th, the standoff continues without resolution.

The dispute became particularly acrimonious in May, after Patricia Kerman, who has lived in her rent-controlled apartment for almost 30 years, put up a sign that reads “Bad Neighbors” and points down toward Schmidt’s.

Mission Loc@l first wrote about the story six weeks ago, but could not reach Kerman at the time. She commented on the story, and after a follow-up interview we put in a request for the file on a public health inspection.

It recently became available, and shows that a noise reading conducted by the Department of Public Health on Sept. 24, 2009, found Schmidt’s in compliance with the noise ordinance law. The inspector noted, however, that “excessive vibration was observed during the inspection.”

There is no vibration city ordinance.

In October 2009, Schmidt’s paid several thousand dollars to fix the fan. Kerman said that although the vibration has improved a lot, it still disturbs her everyday life.

No subsequent noise readings were filed by the Department of Public Health.

“He brought a disturbance and I want him to change it,” Kerman said. “You can’t just move in and say ’I am here now, too bad for you.’”

“We never had this problem before,” said David Pierce, co-owner of the Berlin-style restaurant, adding that he and his business partner own another restaurant and furniture store in the Mission. “I want to get this off my plate — I want to keep trying.”

One message points down, another up.

Kerman said she didn’t have problems with the space’s previous tenant, El Farito Market.

Pierce said he is willing to do additional work, but wants specifics from Kerman about what needs to be fixed.

“I am not going to spend more money unless it’s well-spent,” he said.

Kerman countered that he can make the repairs without having to talk to her or come into her apartment.

Supervisor David Campos’s staff, which has been responsive to constituent complaints, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Mission Loc@l’s story elicited 49 comments, generally supporting Schmidt’s. Soon after the article was published, Pierce put a copy of the story and comments in the restaurant’s window, with an arrow pointing toward Kerman’s unit.

This tit-for-tat standoff underscores the complexities of coexistence in many of San Francisco’s mixed-used buildings. Going to court — if the standoff escalates — or relocating is something both parties are financially unable to do. Mediation is a possible solution that might come with some conditions.

Pierce said he would go through third-party mediation “in a heartbeat.” He tried to go through the community boards, as the police recommended, but Kerman has said that option wasn’t offered to her. Pierce said that in a letter to Kerman last week he tried once again to convince her to agree to mediation.

Kerman said she was never contacted by the community boards and has yet to receive the letter. She said she would consider mediation if it was offered, but doesn’t want to talk to Pierce because she doesn’t trust him. She feels that he has consistently misrepresented his business operation and that he ignored her pleas to fix the noise and vibration problem for five months before making any repairs to the kitchen fan.

Pierce denied the allegations and said that Kerman is the one causing noise disturbances and harassing Schmidt’s staff and customers.

For now, Kerman said she has no plans to remove the “Bad Neighbor” sign because she feels it’s the truth, and because it has helped her to feel empowered at a time when she feels helpless. As for Pierce, he said posting the story in his window has at least helped him explain the sign upstairs to his customers.

Both said they were unhappy about the situation.

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Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. great followup.

    i particularly like that you pulled the Department of Public Health report to get the real facts.

    i think this sentence really made my mind up on this story : “Kerman countered that he can make the repairs without having to talk to her or come into her apartment.”

    it’s pretty clear there’s one party willing to work to resolve the dispute and one who isn’t.

  2. Tragically… a sad person is crying out for someone to say that they count. Schmidt’s, the target of her angst, responded as best they can. It seems Schmidt’s says, “tell us, specifically, what is wrong and we’ll try to remediate.” Unfortunately, no contractor can fix a lonely heart.

  3. In the follow up, were you able to determine which, if any, commenter on the original post was in fact Ms Kerman? It appears that either “IrishH” or “Manny Festo” is actually her.

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