City slaps derelict property owners with $675,000 in fines

A week after the city agency that enforces building codes was criticized for not referring cases to the City Attorney’s Office to have charges brought against owners of derelict properties, the legal office announced the outcomes of two lawsuits filed in 2006.

One Mission district residential hotel will have to install a security gate and cameras to stomp out drug activity while another building owner must fix code violations and cease renting out the illegal “tiny” units, judges have ordered.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced Monday that owners of two properties in the Mission neighborhood were given a combined $675,000 in penalties after failing to rectify innumerable violations issued by the Department of Building Inspection.

Last week, The Examiner reported that Supervisor Tom Ammiano was critical of DBI for not referring a different Mission building to Herrera for litigation.

The City Attorney’s Office also said last week that referrals had dropped off within the last year. A year ago, DBI came under a new leadership.

DBI defended the department’s code enforcement and said all appropriate cases were being referred to the City Attorney’s Office after its own internal process is exhausted and progress is no longer being made.

Herrera filed a civil lawsuit in October 2006 against owners of the Mission and 15th streets single-room occupancy residential hotel, the Grand Southern Hotel, for “long-standing narcotics activity, in violation of the Drug Abatement Act” and for violations of local and state housing, electrical, plumbing and health codes. The hotel, which houses many immigrant families, had no working showers or toilets “for weeks at a time,” Herrera said.

The owner of a building on the 300 block of South Van Ness Avenue was ordered by a Superior Court judge March 5 to keep the building vacant and fix all code violations within nine months. The tenants were largely mostly non-English-speaking immigrants with children “who rented tiny rooms with no leases.”

“These back-to-back judgments send a clear message to negligent property owners in San Francisco that neither The City nor the courts will tolerate code violations that endanger the lives of tenants and neighbors,” Herrera said in a statement.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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