The permitting process for the remodel of the home of Angus McCarthy, above, president of the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission, has raised many questions. (Department of Building Inspection official photo)

The permitting process for the remodel of the home of Angus McCarthy, above, president of the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission, has raised many questions. (Department of Building Inspection official photo)

The Department of Building Inspection is broken

Supes call for city attorney investigation — and pledge ballot measure to transform corruption-plagued department

By Joe Eskenazi

Special to The Examiner

Because this is San Francisco, this story starts with a party.

It was May 2015, and Mayor Ed Lee had just turned 63. The City’s Residential Builders Association, a politically significant group of largely Irish immigrant builders, threw him a fantastic soiree. A cavalcade of elected officials, politicos, movers and shakers descended upon a spacious and elegant Forest Hill home for cake, Irish dancing, drinks and an all-around good time.

Because this is San Francisco, it warrants mentioning that the permitting situation for the spacious and elegant home hosting this party is a bizarre amalgamation of confusing irregularities; the permit enabling the construction of the downstairs living space where revelers at the mayoral shindig sat on couches and mingled had never been signed off and was never inspected by Department of Building Inspection personnel, not even to this day.

Because this is San Francisco, yes, disgraced former building inspector Bernie Curran, now a federal defendant in an alleged bribery scheme, had a hand in pushing through the permitting here. And, in the cherry atop the San Francisco sundae, this is the home of Angus McCarthy, an influential builder — and, for the past decade, the president of the commission that oversees the Department of Building Inspection and ostensibly ensures that building codes and rules are followed.

But this wasn’t just a party. It was a metaphor. Obtaining permits and building projects can be a nightmare for regular folks and out-of-town contractors. But for the connected insiders, the princes and princesses of The City, everything is different.

After all, it was their party.

On being named Department of Building Inspection employee of the quarter in April 2016, Curran said, “It is a pleasure and privilege to serve the people of San Francisco on a daily basis.”

To read the whole story…

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