|Steve Edwards' website|
I got a room in a house in Berkeley California, up in the rich north hills, for $200 per month. That was cheap, for any kind of apartment, in Berkeley or anywhere else in the Bay Area in 1998.
I'd been living in men's shelters for a couple of months, having arrived earlier in the summer from the Pacific Northwest.
I had gotten a job at a bakery just recently. H_, my boss, told me that he had just sold a house up on the hill; that there was a room available; and that he'd introduce me to the new owner. He did so, helping me to find the only private space that I could afford.
In 1964, the year that the house was completed, it had been featured in a popular "lifestyle" monthly that was (and is) called Sunset Magazine. The cinder blocks of the lower level were always ugly; but the upper floor, of glass and dark wood, had been attractive. When I moved in, it was obviously falling down the hill.
There was a small ravine on the northern border of the property, and soil under the house had been subsiding in that direction. There was a break in the concrete, a split across the basement floor, and the front corner of the north end of the house was about a foot-and-a-half lower than the south end.
My bedroom was at the south side of the house, in the lower, concrete-block part. It was a basement room, but, on a hill, it had nearly a full-height front wall to the street, and a large window looking over the San Francisco Bay.
I cleared the space of the hoard of possessions that H_ had put into storage there except for a desk that he'd buried within it. In the far back righthand side (looking from the street) of my room was a triangle of level space that was just big enough for that desk, and big enough for its chair to sit and scoot backward a fair bit. To the left of just enough room for the desk and its chair was the crack and from there the concrete was tilted leftward, in one single slab that constituted about 75% of the area of the foundation.
By the time it reached the wall of my room a leaning arm's reach and a bed's-width away from the chair at the desk the floor's level was about five inches lower.
About a quarter-mile uphill from the property was the Hayward fault, one of the most dangerous in the world.