Jonathan Zaidman isn't like most San Diegans. He doesn't bitch about the city's lack of soul or moan about the Groundhog Day-like feeling inspired by never-ending pleasant weather.
Nope. Zaidman is a proud San Diegan, born and raised. He worships the Chargers--rarely, if ever, missing a game--and he loves the weather. He keeps a longboard skateboard in the back of his car and uses it to sneak in some warm, fresh air whenever he can.
The 24-year-old native truly does see San Diego as his longtime home. He's built a strong sense of community, which he says has given him the desire to give back. A few months ago, he took that desire, mixed it with the entrepreneurial blood he says he's had since his days as a 10-year-old selling popsicles in an industrial park and came up with two benevolent business ideas.
'I didn't want to just buy a Quizno's franchise or the first thing that would make me money,' Zaidman told CityBeat. 'If you know me, I'm the last thing from a capitalist you'll ever meet in your life. My goal is to support myself, eventually support a family and help my parents retire while not causing harm to society--or actually helping, which would be even better.'
Zaidman, a senior at San Diego State University, started with what he knows: his own age group. He thought about all the people he knew with DUIs, then thought about all the people he knew who deserve DUIs, then came up with a solution--the Z Bus, a biodiesel-powered bus that will take college students from SDSU to Pacific Beach and downtown and back.
He bought the bus off craigslist from a guy in Modesto for $5,000. He has the business license and has talked to a few Pacific Beach bar owners interested in sponsoring Z Bus or at least buying a panel ad. So now Zaidman is just waiting for paperwork from the Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates passenger transportation, and trying to figure out how to pay for insurance during the first few months of operation.
With the Z Bus business (www.myspace.com/ridethez) well on its way, Zaidman recently came up with another idea that would help his peers. It came to him in the steamy warmth of a morning shower.
'I was just like, Hey, a lot of people get screwed on security deposits, and they shouldn't. What can be done about that?' Zaidman says.
He found out by researching everything there is to know about security deposits.
'California Civil Code Section 1950.5, in case you're curious,' recites Zaidman without hesitation.
He started Secure Your Deposit (www.myspace.com/secureyourde
posit), and, so far, has helped out in three cases. Zaidman simply steps in as an intermediary and quietly, calmly and confidently calls landlords and asks for either the money or reasons why the money is being withheld. If that doesn't work, he sends a letter of demand or helps his clients take the landlords to small-claims court. He takes either a percentage of what his clients get paid or charges a flat rate.
'I haven't figured out how the charging situation is going to work out yet,' Zaidman explains, 'I don't like taking people's money.'