One of our planning commissioners is part of an ownership group that’s redeveloping a Mission District house. Nine building permits have been revoked on that project by the Department of Building Inspection, and at an appeals hearing, said commissioner told building inspectors to “go fuck themselves” over what he calls “out of control, criminal activity.”
The usually boring and placid proceedings of San Francisco City Hall commissions tend to be tedious but collegial affairs, and people are generally not told to “go fuck themselves” by a sitting member of the Planning Commission. But if you’ve been following commissioner Dennis Richards’ revoked permit saga coverage on Mission Local, you know Richards recently had nine permits revoked on a property on which he’s a minority investor (seen above, though it’s now repainted among other improvements). Richards claims this is all retaliation from his commission-level criticism of the Department of Building Inspection, and his ownership group appealed. The Chronicle reports things got pretty heated at Wednesday night’s Board of Appeals hearing on the matter, and F-bombs were thrown at Department of Building Inspection assistant director Edward Sweeney.
“I think you should tell Mr. Ed Sweeney and his crew to go fuck themselves. Quote,” Richards yelled at Wednesday’s meeting, in a fabulous rant that begins at the 4:37:34 mark of this SFGov TV video. “This is out of control, criminal activity. It will be investigated. Trust me. I look to you to help my plight, my safety, my financial security, from this Trumpism. It's a cancer on our city that's been going on for decades and nothing has been done about it.”
The Chronicle frames this as Richards being a commissioner who “regularly rails against speculators and property-flippers,” but insinuates that he may be “engaged in a similar practice” at this property. That may be a fair take, but there’s nothing illegal about that. What’s more, Richards’ partnership that owns the house paid $350,000 to buy out the house’s four tenants, which is nearly a hundred grand apiece.
But that’s not what the appeal or legal issues are based on. The Department of Building Inspection (DBI) alleges that the partnership that owns the property, Six Dogs LLC, has done all manner of unpermitted work, and added more parking spaces than they’re allowed.
“There are clear violations here of the planning code and the building code and other issues,” Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez said at the hearing.
But Six Dogs’ attorney Scott Emblidge argued that permits are revoked only “one or two times per year” and just in “extraordinary cases.” He backed up the vendetta claim by pointing out builders usually get 30 days to make fixes before permits are yanked. This property’s permits were revoked on September 30, effective immediately on that date.
The Board of Appeals did not decide anything at Wednesday’s meeting. Despite the verbal fireworks, they kicked their decision until a March 18 meeting, perhaps out of discomfort with what seems like an ugly rivalry between a commissioner and a separate city department. “What we have here is a sloppy mess,” board president Rick Swig said.
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