S.F. judge allows residential hotel’s doors to stay open

A Mission district residential hotel that was sued by The City and accused of being a public nuisance will remain open after complying with a host of court orders and fines, a San Francisco judge decided.

The Albion Hotel, a single-room occupancy establishment long the sight of drug dealing and other criminal activity, according to the City Attorney’s Office, was a menace to its tenants and the surrounding neighborhood, The City claimed.

The hotel has come into compliance with city building codes and must maintain certain security measures under an injunction made final Wednesday.

On Sept. 22, City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued Albion owner Vena Shotiveyaratana, asking for court orders that she implement security measures and bring the building into compliance. On Wednesday, the injunction — requiring locking security gates, a “competent” night front-desk attendant, security cameras and logs of calls to police, among other things — was made permanent.

Shotiveyaratana also had to prove she had come into compliance with building codes. She was fined $120,000, about half of which is to go to The City’s court costs and the other half of which will go to The City as a civil penalty under housing and drug abatement laws.

Shotiveyaratana’s attorney, Arthur Lipton, was unavailable for comment Monday.

“It’s a two-fold case, having to do with the conditions of the building and the drug problem,” Deputy City Attorney Michael Weiss, who prosecuted the case, said Monday.

“The part of it that relates to the condition of the building has reached a point where the Department of Building Inspection is satisfied, in terms of they cleared all the violations. That’s a definitive point that we can measure, as opposed to thedrug problem, which still needs monitoring because that’s a fluid situation,” Weiss said.

Those who work with tenants of single-room occupancy hotels say that while conditions at the Albion Hotel have improved, as well as those at the Grand Southern Hotel, on which The City also cracked down in September, much more work needs to be done to improve the conditions of SRO residents.

“In a general way, I would say most of the conditions are the same,” said Mariana Viturro, of the St. Peter’s Housing Committee. “There’s still a lot of enforcement to do. There’s still a bedbug infestation that still needs to get wiped out. It just requires a lot of continual treatment and monitoring on behalf of The City and [hotel] management.”

Viturro said there are 55 SROs in the Mission district, housing between 1,900 and 2,000 low- and very-low-income people.

amartin@examiner.com


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