Four months into an ordeal where their building was flooded (twice!), replacement hotel accommodations were abruptly canceled, and contractors apparently pilfered a number of their possessions, more than 50 tenants of the beleaguered SoMa high-rise 33 Tehama are suing the property manager Hines.
It was on June 3 of this year when 38-story South of Market luxury apartment complex 33 Tehama had a top-floor water main break that caused about 20,000 gallons of water to flood the building, forcing the evacuation of all 383 occupied units. The building’s property manager Hines looked the good guy by offering tenants hotel rooms for the duration of repairs, but it took all of a few days for that offer to look more short-term, as tenants told SFist their hotel reservations were being rescinded by the hotels because there was a conference in town.
Other deals with tenants may have been struck since then, but it's clear that many remain disgruntled.
The timeline for the tenants’ return has been extended again and again, and now they can’t get back into their apartments until “early 2023,” according to the management company. Add to this the frustration that hotel assistance has now been cut off entirely, the place flooded again in August, and residents complained that contractors were seen on video stealing items from their vacated homes.
Scoop 🚨: Tenants of the twice-flooded 33 Tehama high-rise in #SanFrancisco have sued building owner @Hines, alleging that company's actions before and after the water leaks amounted to negligence.#housing #realestate #disaster https://t.co/ZFZiu485l5— Laura Waxmann (@laura_waxee) October 9, 2022
Now this is all ending up where you might have guessed it would have, in court. The San Francisco Superior Court, that is, as the SF Business Times reported Sunday, and the Chronicle quickly confirmed, more than 50 residents of 33 Tehama are suing property manager Hines over the whole runaround.
HAPPENING NOW: Residents of 33 Tehama in #SF have filed a lawsuit against the building’s owner after burst pipes in June forced tenants out of their homes for months. They’re claiming chronic mismanagement. Story at 5 & 6 @abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/2KONwCZ76k— Tim Johns (@tim_johns_) October 10, 2022
“The tenants were promised this magnificent building and instead they found themselves in a total nightmare,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Nazy Fahimi said in an interview with the Chronicle. “It truly took a toll on these individuals.”
The lawsuit alleges that Hines knew of the plumbing problems long before the June 3 flooding, and has failed to come through on promises of reimbursement for hotel expenses. Financial damages are not specified in the suit, but that’s clearly what the plaintiffs are after here.
While we do describe the building as “luxury apartments,” nearly 140 of the residents were below-market-rate tenants.
#Exclusive | Hines has been paying for housing accommodations, but the support ended Wed.— Luz Peña (@Luzpenatv) August 18, 2022
137 residents live in “below market rate" units at #33Tehama. Hines said they will help this group, but this resident is still waiting.
Story:⬇️https://t.co/SPuw75xIor @abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/rKijqiBUH5
Hines spokesperson Marisa Monte told the Chronicle, “We deny the allegations pled in this complaint, and we believe that during the course of pretrial discovery the court and the public will understand the true extent of our efforts to help those that had to leave their homes during these unfortunate and unforeseen events.”
The district’s supervisor Matt Dorsey chimed in with a statement that “The flooding incident at 33 Tehama in June was only the start of a cascading fiasco that continues to cause hardships and uncertainty for residents. I think civil litigation is the appropriate next step to right the wrongs that emerged from this debacle, and I’m confident the San Francisco Superior Court will ensure that justice is done.”
The 33 Tehama website still has a “Lease Now” button, as if everything were fine at this location, though there is a message at the top of the site saying there’s a “24/7 hotline” to get “the latest updates.”
While Hines is the property manager, the building was designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica. That same firm is designing a proposed tower with the floating cube top that was all over the news last week, so the current structural mess at 33 Tehama could potentially impact the approval process for that structure.
Image: SFist, Courtesy 33 Tehama tenants