Planning commissioner Dennis Richards has, following a leave of absence from his post, just submitted his letter of resignation from the commission.
As SFist reported previously via Mission Local, Richards has been at war with the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) for a number of months over a building that he co-owns in the Mission. The four-unit building at 3426-32 22nd Street saw nine of its building permits revoked in September due to what DBI said was remodeling work that exceeded the scope of those permits. It appears much of the work must be completed, and the property is on the market for $7.88 million.
Richards and his attorney appealed the revocation of the permits, saying that it was a retaliatory action against him personally for comments he made about corruption at the department. And at a December hearing on the matter, Richards notably told DBI assistant director Edward Sweeney "and his crew" to quote-unquote "go fuck themselves." Two weeks later, Richards announced the leave of absence, citing the need to "clear personal issues" and address his conflict with DBI.
Now, as the Examiner reports, Richards has decided to fully resign, saying in a letter to Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, "I now feel that it is time for me to pass the torch to new Commissioners." As reasons for his resignation, Richards cites the "legal action" he's undertaken against DBI, and the time that that will require. "I am hopeful this action will help to root out any corruption or abuses and restore confidence in the Department," Richards writes.
Richards also cites his increased involvement "in advocating for changes to statewide housing policies," perhaps referring to his activism against Sen. Scott Wiener's SB-50.
Interestingly, Richards throws in a hope at the end of the letter that his successor will "continue the Commission policies through our precedent setting decisions around taking Discretionary Review to prevent tenant displacement through 'Renovictions'." This issue is one that Richards still seems to be defending himself over with regard to the 22nd Street property — in that case, he and his co-owner offered relocation payments or "buyouts" to existing tenants in order to renovate and resell the building empty of tenants. Richards later defended the payments saying that all four tenants had expressed interest in being bought out before he and his partner purchased the building. So I guess that doesn't count as a "renoviction"?
Photo of Richards' swearing in via Rafael Mandelman