James T. Kirk boldly went where he’d gone many times before – and walked out of probate court with an agreement to sell San Francisco’s beloved “Starship House.”
Kirk – yes, that’s his given name – had been fighting for years to hang onto his family home, a two-bedroom, one-bath a few blocks from Ocean Beach in the Sunset. Born just before “Star Trek” premiered on television, he’s lived there for decades with homemade creations including a replica of the bridge from the Starship Enterprise. A car dressed up to resemble a Batmobile is parked in front and visitors are welcome.
The home is a beacon for the “wonderfully weird” and a “resource for thousands of people every year,” according to Supervisor Gordan Mar, who represents the Western San Francisco neighborhood.
The wonderfully weird Starshiphouse on 46th near Taraval is a landmark and resource for thousands of people every year. James T Kirk (yes, that’s his real name) is in a battle in probate court to purchase the house from his mother’s estate. pic.twitter.com/4ygDAcrsOx
— Gordon Mar (@D4GordonMar) December 5, 2021
At a probate hearing this week, Kirk and neighborhood friend Jason Hodge were prepared to outbid a $1 million offer. Instead, the prospective buyers “turned out to be pretty cool and like what Kirk does,” said Hodge, a firefighter who is married to California State Treasurer Fiona Ma.
Once Hodge was sure Kirk wouldn’t be summarily evicted, they made a handshake deal with the buyers that will allow Kirk and any tenants to stay on at market-rate rents for one to two years while “the Captain” figures out “the next option for his universe,” Hodge said. The buyers live in San Jose and plan to eventually make the Outer Sunset home their primary residence.
While the lease terms must still be put in writing, and the probate proceedings left Kirk “a little numb,” he said the time has come to move on. “It’s going to open up a new chapter in my life,” he said.
Kirk has been battling his two sisters to keep the house since their mother died about three years ago. The artist and handyman hasn’t ever had a bank account or credit card, which made it difficult to secure a loan.
Hodge was so committed to the cause that he put his Southern California beachfront bar up as collateral. He also organized a GoFundMe that raised more than $22,000 to help Kirk keep the property.
“The house is such a community resource,” Hodge said. “Kirk never turns people away when folks need a place to stay.”
Kirk thanked his supporters, some of whom had never seen the tinfoil stalactites in the garage or jammed in the band space. Some donors said the house represented the stranger days of San Francisco’s past, before people needed an income of $350,000 to afford a median-priced home and properties sold for millions over the asking price.
“This is the San Francisco weirdness that makes the City great and has been slowly dying out,” wrote one $20 donor. “We need to support folks like this to stay here.”
Hodge said the GoFundMe money that hasn’t already been spent on legal fees will help Kirk craft a lease agreement with the new owners. After the property closes, he will get a third of the proceeds to help find a new home for his treasures, including an enormous ping-pong table that takes up much of the yard and oversized hieroglyphics-inspired paintings.
Hodge is also trying to find Kirk a more enduring form of income. He was recently approved to captain Batmobile tours of San Francisco on Airbnb, and already has people signed up.
Kirk hopes he can find another place in the neighborhood to recreate his weird yet welcoming home. “What I do is not going to stop,” he said.