Outer Sunset, The Final Frontier

Bay Area native James Kirk sits on the bridge of his Starship Enterprise, inside his rebel base two blocks away from Ocean Beach, which is adorned with relics of his childhood growing up in San Francisco. A rebel alliance flag flaps in the driveway. A Batmobile replica is parked out front. “Surf Rock” from the 1950s blares down the street.

Kirk considers his house a community center, museum and amusement park. Kirk strives to recreate the Sunset District he grew up knowing. He remembers the Sunset District being a place with landmarks like Playland at the beach, a defunct amusement park. 


Locals gather at the Sunset Rebel Base to play pool, ping-pong, and jam out while surrounded 70’s pop culture memorabilia. Hosted by James Kirk, owner of the Rebel Base, on Saturday October 19, 2019. (Photo by William Wendelman / Golden Gate Xpress)

His home is a tribute to pop culture and old San Francisco. It’s fixtures include a replica of the Starship Enterprise, as well as a room that has been transformed into the bridge of the ship. There are handmade replicas of the Murphy Windmill which stands in Golden Gate Park, and the Adolph Sutro Cliff House.

 “When I grew up in the sunset, we had a lot of open doors. A lot of people were into going to the movies and playing music, really interacting with one another. It’s something that I’m trying to keep alive here with the house,” Kirk said.

Kirk lives in the Outer Sunset District of San Francisco. He shares his name with Captain James T. Kirk, the main character of Star Trek played by William Shatner, but was not named after him. 

Kirk’s plan to unify his neighborhood is working. The home is open to the public. Neighbors stop by to hang out, those with children play kickball outside. The bases are outlined in white paint on the asphalt and home plate sits at the end of Kirk’s driveway. Tina Khamphakdy, who lives two doors down, believes that Kirk’s addition to the community has increased neighborhood interaction.

“I think it’s cool, it’s really creative and he works really hard on it,” Khamphakdy said.

His backyard contains a shaded seating area with a fire pit and an oversized ping pong table. The indoors area is scattered with musical instruments and a pool table. Over the summer Kirk hosted a miniature golf tournament that spanned the inside of his home. He hand built the obstacles for each hole.

“It really does appeal to all ages, the kids love it, the adults love it. Adults feel like they’re a teenager again,” Kirk said. “It’s a place where people can actually interact with each other and physically pick up a guitar or play ping pong or learn how to build stuff with their hands.”

An influx of guests stop by to check out his home on weekends. People learn about his home through word of mouth or accidentally on foot. From the sidewalk Kirk’s space draws the attention of most pedestrians. There is an abundance of lights and the sound of rock music draws looks of curiosity from people passing by.

Justin Martinez is a graduating senior from SF State. Martinez lives across the street and regularly visits Kirk’s house to hang out.

“Sometimes there’s too many people here, and I’m like ‘hey man I’m gonna head home,’” laughed Martinez. “I first recognized this place from the ‘open’ sign. I was looking outside the window from my home.”

Kirk enjoys the company of his guests, for the most part. He has mentioned having to ask people to leave if he doesn’t feel they respect the space.

“The house tends to attract a really amazing crowd of artists and musicians. There’s also a lot of fun stuff to do,” Kirk said. “It’s a place where the community comes together and people meet each other here.”

While many of his neighbors enjoy the space, not all do. Kirk said that some neighbors are not fans of his community center.

“To be honest I think there are some neighbors that do have a problem with the noise. For me normally I don’t hear it as much because I live in an in-law,” Khamphakdy said.

The origins of this home is rooted in Kirk’s past. Growing up, he was fascinated with history. Kirk displays an assortment of vintage novelties he has amassed throughout his lifetime.

“I used to dig in the backyard and I would find amazing things. I found a dog that was buried in 1915 in the Sunset. I know because it said on the tags,” Kirk said. “It was my dream to become an archaeologist, so I’ve been collecting my whole life.”

Kirk wants to give Sunset residents the opportunity to experience the neighborhood he grew up in. The rebel base gives guests the opportunity to go back in time, a reality before the age of social media. 

“Rebel Base comes from Star Wars. The rebels are fighting against the evil empire which is like government and big business. The rebel base signifies freedom from real takeover of power. It’s a parallel to that,” Kirk said.

The rebel base is also inspired by the music Kirk grew up listening to. He says he learned a lot from 70’s icons like Jim Morrison and Ozzy Osbourne, people who taught him to “break away from the norm.”