The permitting dustup over unsanctioned beds and bedrooms at Twitter’s SF headquarters just might end peacefully, as the SF Department of Building Inspection is giving them a path to keep the beds, though the larger problem remains that Twitter is simply not paying rent.
One of the stupider subplots to Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and subsequent oddball behavior has been a squabble over Twitter employees sleeping on-site in apparent makeshift bedrooms. Back in early December, when Twitter janitors were on strike, Forbes broke the story that Twitter was converting some conference rooms to bedrooms so that workers could stay at work round-the-clock to appease Musk’s desire that they be more “hardcore.” Supervisor Ahsha Safai complained below that this might violate city law, and sure enough, KQED reported that same day that the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection was opening an investigation.
As Janitors are on strike @elonmusk and @Twitter violate City laws by converting office space to sleeping quarters, refuse to pay janitors back wages ( wage theft) and are searching for a non union contractors. I stand with @SEIU87. https://t.co/0mkNsZWlAs— Ahsha Safai 安世輝 (@Ahsha_Safai) December 6, 2022
But that investigation may not even bring a slap on the wrist. The San Francisco Business Times reported Friday that DBI simply told Twitter to revise some paperwork and they could keep the bedrooms. (Though the Business Times adds “Twitter is also subject to a fee” to come into compliance.) Then today, the Chronicle’s Roland Li actually obtained the DBI notice, which is seen below.
SF to Twitter: Fix your building permit within 15 days to keep beds at HQ https://t.co/UwYNfze3tq— Roland Li (@rolandlisf) January 31, 2023
City requested Twitter's construction contractor label conference rooms as bedrooms. Also concluded the spaces have "a full life safety system" and don't conflict with zoning pic.twitter.com/YCVy4oHVU6
The report says: “During a site visit to investigate Complaint #202299804 it was observed that some of the conference [rooms] were being used as employee sleeping or rest areas. Beds were present in these rooms.”
“Please obtain a revision to properly label these rooms for the use as intended today. Or restore rooms to original use within 15 days,” the notice adds.
The Chronicle also got comment from City Hall. “The building isn’t out of compliance with the Planning Code or with what would be permitted for a typical office use,” Planning Department chief of staff Dan Sider told the Chron. “We see quiet rooms, rest spaces, sleeping pods, and things of the like frequently in modern office fit-outs, and this doesn’t appear to be radically different.”
That sounds like DBI is providing Twitter with a pretty easy out. But will Musks’s Twitter just refuse to comply with this very low threshold anyway, just because he likes to be antagonistic with regulators? And it’s likely a far larger issue that Twitter is allegedly not paying rent at the building, and the legal actions from their angry landlords might render these permitting disputes something of a moot point.
Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described Dan Sider's job title. Sider is chief of staff for the Planning Department.
Image: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 27: In an aerial view, a sign is seen posted on the exterior of Twitter headquarters on April 27, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X, reached an agreement to purchase social media platform Twitter for $44 billion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)