tv BOS Rules Committee SFGTV September 13, 2021 10:00pm-1:31am PDT
we have about 2700 beds and 430 adults for under the age of 60. that's our current capacity and when we look at the residential care facility for the elderly, we've seen some losses and some gains for facilities. facilities loss, we have five fewer of these smaller facilities compared to 2018. most of these closures predate this zoning policy. four closures occurred prior to october 2019. two in the mission. two in the sunset. and one in gulfside. the bed growth that we've seen is driven by new licensure and that's mostly by the opening of the new frank residents memory
care facility at campus for jewish living and then the launch of portola gardens at the former university home. so on the next slide, you look at the updated data for adult residential facilities. we had a net loss of 40 beds since 2018. this loss is driven by the closure of four board and care homes all of which were operated by one company and this is closure of the residential care homes and a series of four buildings in the university mound excelsior area. these losses were significantly offset by one boarding care at home opening we also saw the closure of the 24-bed facility which closed in august of 2018.
so that is my report. as jacob had indicated, i mean, of course, there's a larger context in the challenges that these business operators have in running these facilities. it's just a really hard market to be successful in given the high housing in the city and we're also trying to balance the needs of these owners that, you know, some feel the businesses aren't working anymore and it's hard to sustain in this environment so i think that's kind of the larger context. we don't want an owner to stay in business because of this need if it doesn't work for them financially. we have to look at a broader set of policy options maintain this kind of housing in the city. happy to answer any questions and sorry to go through the data weeds with you all, but just wanted to provide that updated data and provide more
context to the trends we've seen over the last several years. >> supervisor melgar: thank you so much, ms. smith for the thorough presentation. do we have any comments or questions for the staff? okay. thank you so much. i do have -- yes? >> sorry. as a cosponsor of the legislation, i just wanted to chime in since i'm here. i want to thank jacob and supervisor mandelman for this legislation. i'm excited about the addition of removing the c.u. for new boarding care that want to open. i know jacob mentioned two of its properties, but i believe this legislation was helpful in helping us require a 29-unit or
a 29-bed board of care facility in district nine and we were also able to use the $10 million that we had put aside last -- not this last budget year, but the one before particularly and so the two work together to really put a dent, a small dent, but a dent in this crisis we're experiencing, but even more so, we were able to preserve what had previously been a board and care and was going to go away if we didn't have the law to help us preserve this type of housing available. i'm so proud to be a co-sponsor and i really appreciate all the work of supervisor mandelman's office and supervisor mandelman in bringing this forward. thank you.
>> supervisor melgar: thank you so much, supervisor ronen. supervisor preston. >> supervisor preston: thank you, chair melgar. i just want to thank supervisor mandelman for all the work on this and also supervisor ronen for her co-sponsorship and n.h.w. folks and to be added as a co-sponsor. thank you. >> chairman: supervisor peskin. >> supervisor peskin: co-sponsor please. thank you supervisor ronen and supervisor mandelman and planning and n.u.h.w. yay. >> chairman: thank you so much and if you could also add me as a co-sponsor, i would very much appreciate it. thank you, jacob, as i said for all your hard work. you know, we in district seven have a number of large homes
that no longer have folks living in them, large families and whose kids have moved away. as we also have a very large population it's really like to say. when i was on the planning commission i was this line going down and we're not making any progress and the market is driving so much of this. thank you so much, jacob, for
all your work and please madam clerk. >> thank you, madam chair. i was just checking to see if there are any callers in the queue. if you have not done so already, please press star three to be added to the queue. it looks like we have seven callers and two in queue. arthur, if you can unmute the first caller, please >> hello, this is christina. >> clerk: go ahead, ma'am. >> i operated the facility
since 2005 and we provide boarding care behavioral health and nursing services to people who are who service on mental illness and many of them have current and historical issues with substance use and many of them have medical complications and we take care of them and many of them see this as their home. i'm a little bit worried about the reviewing every three years because many of our residents considered that as the home and, you know, every three years, we have to move not have been bad that would be very anxiety provoking and like i
said if without this kind of facility, many of our residents would have been homeless, hospitalized, or dead. so having this residential facility for people who have mental health challenges, it's going to help to end homelessness at least part of the solution to help homelessness. so, yes, please approve the ordinance. >> clerk: thank you so much. next speaker, please. >> yes. this is michael nulty, i'm a native san franciscan. and also for reference, i grew up in district seven and i'm
aware of the large houses in district seven. anyway, i'm for this resolution, changes to the planning code because it's important to keep people in residential care facilities in san francisco. it's going to be a growing population in san francisco. i'm a senior and people are only going to be getting older in san francisco and we have to look out for the seniors as a living place in san francisco. we want to keep our population here and we want to have the services to be able to provide to them when they are getting older and so this is important legislation that needs to be moved out of committee on to the full board. >> clerk: thank you, mr. nulty. that was the final speaker, madam chair. >> chairman: thank you so much, madam clerk. with that, colleagues, can we
have a motion to send this out of committee with a positive recommendation? >> supervisor preston: so moved. >> chairman: thank you, supervisor preston. will you please call roll, madam clerk. >> clerk: on the motion to recommend the item. i believe this was a committee report. madam chair? >> chairman: yes. it is a committee report. >> clerk: as a committee report, [roll call] you have three ayes. for the record i've added peskin, preston, and melgar as co-sponsors. >> chairman: thank you. this has passed to the full board as a committee report.
can you please call item number five. >> clerk: yes. item number five is a hearing on the history and current status on multiple major violations of the municipal codes at 2861-2899 san bruno avenue including the construction of 30 units in a project approved for ten units requesting the department's report on the city's role and responsibility in plan review. action finalized to impose appropriate penalties and conform and mitigate harm. members who would like to call in on this item should call the number on the screen. that number is (415) 655-0001. and the meeting i.d. is 24930322236. press pound and pound again.
press three to enter the queue to speak. >> chairman: thank you so much, madam clerk. we have department of staff here today. this project is in supervisor ronen's district. this is district nine and supervisor ronen is here to conduct the hearing. thank you, supervisor ronen for joining us. and the floor is yours supervisor ronen thank you so much, chair melgar. supervisor peskin, did you want to say something before i start in. >> supervisor peskin: i do have one thing. thank you, supervisor, for calling this hearing and i look forward to calling this hearing and i look forward to it vigorously and i'm totally bummed up by the ongoing revelations and corruption in this department and as we discussed in rules committee at public works and other places after doing this job on and off
for 20 years, it just makes me sick to my stomach. this is the first time i've seen what our zoning administrator looks like. i've talked to him on the phone a couple of times over the year and i have seen his written determinations most of which i disagreed with. i've never tried to influence the guy. generally, if you don't like his decisions, you can appeal him at the board of appeals and try to seek justice there. but the reason i'm raising that is because as we worry about independent and checks and balances and stuff like this not happening and how the hell this happened is i can't wait to hear. i am deeply concerned and i will be raising it tomorrow at the board of supervisors the fact that i believe the independence of the zoning administrator is being undermined by a reorganization within the planning department. i have never discussed this
with mr. t. and he can listen with everybody else as i bring this up tomorrow. i believe that organization can lead to the exact same kind of corruption we're seeing at the building department. and i wanted to get that off my chest. i look forward to talking more about this more extensively at the board of supervisors. >> supervisor ronen: thank you, supervisor peskin, and i will say when mr. t. turned on his camera, i said oh, that's what he looks like. it's nice to see your face, mr. t. and i want to start off by saying thank you to chair melgar but also supervisor peskin and supervisor preston for allowing me to hold a hearing today. i have never held a hearing until today. i want to echo supervisor
peskin and say this case is not only unusual outrageous, unusually dangerous, unusually just mind boggling. implications that i do not believe we have discussed enough in public. there has not been enough transparency to discuss how this corruption manifests and impacts the lives and safety of our constituents in san francisco and this project in particular i think is quite an interesting illustration of that and so that's why i brought a discussion about this particular project to this committee in a way that i never have before nor have i often seen maybe with the exception of the millennium tower.
soy just wanted to appreciate you all for allowing me to hold this hearing. the project we're going to discuss today is at 2861-2899 san bruno avenue. a new mixed use building that conceded in 2017. the developer's proposed project was approved by the planning commission in 2012 and permitted by d.b.i. for ten units. the project began construction based on those approvals and permits were completed and approved for occupancy in 2017. in 2019, my office was informed by planning's code enforcement people that 30, 30 units were constructed illegally at the site. the notice of violation issued by d.b.i. and san francisco fire department and planning in 2019 ran the gamut from
ignoring the affordable housing requirement, changing the exterior design, altering the exterior staircase, corridors, and fire converting garages into other uses and converting other required space into parking. but most significant and immediately urgent, there were 30 unit that is did not meet fire and other life safety codes and 30 households were now living in these illegal units and needed to be protected. these were multiple egregious code violations. my office has been working with neighbors, and city departments to resolve this mind boggling disaster. our first focus was on safety and make sure there were no displacement of renters who truly were the victims in this scheme. there were immediate steps taken by fire to have on site life fire watchers. that's how serious the danger
was to the tenants. they required 24-hour fire watches to watch the property and make sure that a fire didn't ignite and then to construct an exterior temporary fire escape which temporary now means three years because it's still not put there today. since then, the pace of city departments to action against compliance to create permanently safe conditions for the residents has been frustratingly slow. today, we have representatives from the planning department, city of building inspections and the mayor's office of housing and community development are here to answer questions. i was originally going to have a presentation from planning and d.b.i. realizing that we have an enormous amount of questions about this property and that this is only the beginning of your long agenda today, i'm going to ask that anyone who wants to make a
presentation, they can do so extremely briefly, two minutes max because the heart of this matter's going to come up in dialog in questions and answers and often times presentations alone take up so much time that it leaves very little time that we so desperately need to have in this city. when i initially heard about this violation in 2019, one of my first questions was how could a developer think they could get away with such a brazen flouting of our laws and i was assured back then that these units were inserted after the final sign-off from d.b.i. of the occupancy permission and that perhaps d.b.i. permission should have but didn't additional that happened during construction and an application for wet bars after.
but in june, and i believe that, i listened to that and i believed that. but then in june, we learned that d.b.i. senior building inspector bernard kern who was recently indicted for fraud recently signed off. that was when i decided to take an even closer look at this project because what a coincidence that a senior building inspector that was indicted by the f.b.i. was the one to sign the final inspection notice on this project and, it was only then that i realized i couldn't just trust city staff to say that all of this happened after the city departments were involved and realized that was actually not the case and we'll discuss that more in a second. this situation points firstly to the action of unscrupulous
developers and contractors that in order to pull this off, there had to be compliciting on the part of city staff. what is particularly frustrating is at the same time we are looking at making it easier and quicker and cheaper ways to build, we see a project that needed more and a lot more scrutiny, not less. every honest developer in town should be horrified by the potential repercussions for the timing and costs for future approvals and the construction process. i want to hear from the departments on the city's role and responsibility and plan review, permitting, inspection, and compliance on the current status of building safety and its occupants on any gas and oversight that allowed this to happen on current actions to investigate allegations of unethical behavior. my goal today is to find out what happened? what signal if any did the city fail to follow up on or that
were missed completely allowing this project to go off the rails? and what the city can and should do when something like this occurs to ensure we are holding developers' commitments to be made and those harmful and mitigating laws developers are inflicting and what collusion, if any, our city staff have. it is becoming increasingly clear that this situation is not unique. we seem to be on a city path that is now uncovering more corruption, more unethical behavior. in fact, later this week, the controller will release its findings and recommendations on the grossly inefficiently profits. we have quite a lot of work to do in the city to restore trust in this department and this hearing and a full look on this and the transparency on what
occurred in this project is a central part of regaining trust. first, we need to understand really what's been going on in this department for all these years, then, we need to identify processes that didn't make sense, root out corrupt employees and hold them responsible and contractors and then change those systems and then make sure that any property that was inspected insufficiently and perhaps was a product of corruption must be reinspected to make sure people are living under safe conditions. we have a long way to go in this city to restore faith in this department. we have a lot of work to do in the process and i hope that this hearing today can be helpful in putting us on that track. i want to end by saying that i recently passed legislation to
provide additional scrutiny to bad actors through the d.b.i. permitting process. i've also introduced code regulations to tighten up to make sure developers meet their affordable housing obligations. like supervisor peskin said and i'm right there with him, these are two parts of a lot of change that needs to happen at this city and i'm looking forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the department to make that change. so, with that, i wanted to give a brief opportunity for mr. rearden or mr. teag to make some opening comments or remarks and then vi a i have a litany of questions as i'm sure my colleagues do as well.
>> thank you. it's good to see you all. cory teags zoning administrator for the planning department. i was prepared to give a longer presentation. the only thing i would say at this point and, of course, we're open to questions is, as you mentioned, this was a project that was originally approved, went through that approval process through the planning commission, went through the building permit process, everything through that stage seemed to be legitimate. we kind of were out of the process at that point. we got back into the process when the property owner came in to actually request a conditional use authorization to not do the on site affordable units and convert that to paying the fee instead which would have then required them to go back to the planning department and change their approval and is essentially in that process and the site visit that one of our planners
realized that something was very off and then that started to ramp up. that resulted in a code enforcement case for the lack of provision of the on site unit because we do have a provision for paying interest if you haven't met your obligation when you should have. but, again, that ramped up into additional site visits that ultimately included a joint task force of planning, building, fire, city attorney, and that really kind of kicked off the enforcement process. and, i know that we've been in direct engagement with your office i think from the beginning and i know that the time it has taken has been challenging and there are a number of legitimate although frustrating reasons why that's been the case. i'm happy to get into those as well. but i just wanted to briefly call out those points in the process. as you know right now, the project, we've kind of gotten
through the process of finalizing something that could be approved and go before the planning commission and before the zoning administrator for a required variance for that proposed scope of work and so that's something that's hopefully going to be happening very soon, but otherwise i'm available for any specific questions you may have regarding the planning department's review and role in this case. >> supervisor ronen: thank you. and, i do appreciate that. i'm not sure this would have ever come to light had planning not brought this to our attention. so i do want to recognize that and thank the planning department for that. mr. o'rearden did you want to make any opening comments and remarks. >> sure. good afternoon supervisors and chair melgar and thank you for allowing me to answer some of your questions today. as you are, supervisor ronen, i'm outraged by what happened
here. this is unacceptable and we at d.b.i. have a long ways to go to earn the public's trust. we're in the business of ensuring the safety of the citizens and county of san francisco and we have to -- we have put reforms in place. we have a reforms package we put in place in may. we have a lot of work to do. this is going to take time. it entails auditing everything from the past where we have any suspicions of any wrong doing and we're already doing that. we have started auditing projects. we started in july of last year, as a matter of fact. we started our initial audit of the $67 million project in hayes valley. that was the subject of media attention. so we're auditing on that. just waiting for a complete
response from the design professionals. and, all these other things that are coming to us by way of what's notable in criminal complaints. we're looking at that first before we look at anything else, but we will look at everything. this came to me and i was horrified when i found out about this in january of 2019 based on a complaint that we received from the planning department and we immediately dispatched a team of inspectors along with the fire department attended along with the city attorney. we issued 15 notices of violation. we take this very seriously. we want to make sure that the residents of that building are safe at least on a temporary basis. our acting deputy director was out there on august 13th and he can -- i'd like him to speak a little bit because he was there recently with our plumbing and
electrical inspectors and he can explain to you and the other supervisors what the condition of the building is as of right now. would you like me to ask joe to describe to you what he saw when he went out there, supervisor? >> supervisor ronen: we can talk about the present soon, but i want to talk about the past first, if that's okay. >> sure. >> supervisor ronen: if you don't mind if we can get into questions. you know, i will look to my colleagues. i have questions for d.b.i., the attorney's office and a couple questions for planning. we can either go by department or we can go by individuals. just let me know if anyone has a burning question they want to chime in at any time and just wave your hand or put yourself on stack and i'll start myself. i do want this to be a dialog. so, first of all, you know, i
appreciate mr. o'rearden that i did meet with you and your team prior to this hearing and i do think that what i learned in that discussion, i want to have that conversation again here in the public because, again, a full public accounting of the truth of what happened is very important to restoring trust in the department. so first of all, i want you to explain in a project like this, you know, presumably you would expect it was a 10-unit new construction. how many inspections should have taken place by d.b.i. during a project like that? >> a project like that, supervisor, and thank you for the question would typically consist of about seven inspections and that would be per building. now, if the buildings were being built all at the same time, it's possible that the
inspections may have been done for multiple buildings at one site visit. >> supervisor ronen: and how many inspections actually took place at these buildings? >> i'm not trying to hedge, supervisor, but we honestly don't know right now. what we do know, what is documented in our permit tracking system is that a final permit inspection took place at each of the five buildings. 2867-2899 san bruno avenue. now, what we're unclear about is if inspections were documented on the job card of the contractor. i was told that by bernie kern and i asked him to provide me evidence of that. he did not provide evidence. i asked him multiple times. i haven't seen that evidence. we have asked the attorney
representing the developer for those job cards and we still haven't received any evidence of those job cards. so we will now work on the assumption that those inspections were not performed since we don't have evidence to the contrary. >> supervisor ronen: so each of those seven inspections for each of the buildings should have been noted in your permit tracking system? >> that is correct, supervisor. yes. >> supervisor ronen: and, none were inputted into the permit track system or just the final inspection was? >> just the final inspections. >> supervisor ronen: and did mr. kern perform all of the final inspections? >> yes. >> supervisor ronen: is that common that inspections aren't recorded in your permit inspection system? >> it's uncommon.
it does happen, but this is a severe instance of what you're describing and what i'm explaining to you. >> supervisor ronen: and, so there was no flags that went off or no way to determine that during a long period of time -- so those seven inspections, during what period of time should those seven inspections have taken place? >> typically, for this type of a project, it probably would have been over the course of probably about 18 months to 2 years for construction of these five buildings. >> supervisor ronen: so when a project's taking place and, you know, it's under construction for two years and there's no inspection input into the system, there's nothing to alert you? you were the senior inspector at the time, there had been nothing to alert you to the
fact that inspections weren't taking place? >> unfortunately, supervisor, that's correct. there were no flags in the system that would have indicated that. i was the chief inspector at the time, bernie was the senior, and we didn't have oversight then like we do now over what senior inspectors did with our reforms package now, all of these senior inspectors are accountable for what they do. unfortunately, that was not the case then. >> supervisor ronen: so what -- and supervisor melgar and supervisor peskin i'm going to finish this one questioning and then i'll give it to you and then follow other lines of questioning. so what is different now? if a project you know over a two year period if their inspections weren't being inputted into the system, how would you know? >> so what's different now is the senior inspectors are the oversight for the district
inspectors which is what was always the case, but along with that now, the chief inspector provides oversight for the work that is performed by the senior inspectors. that wasn't the case then. unfortunately, the senior inspectors were the overseers and then we found we had, you know, this situation arose and we couldn't trust the oversight they were providing anymore. so we put another level of oversight, that's the chief inspector's overview of what these seniors do from day-to-day. so the chief is looking now with what the senior does along with the senior looking at the deadline inspector. >> supervisor ronen: so now the chief will look to make sure that inspectors are recording their inspections in the database? >> yes. the chief will verify that
everything is complete prior to the project closure. >> supervisor ronen: was bernard kern, i know the answer to this but i'll ask the question anyway. was bernard kern the senior inspector of the area where this project took place? >> i believe he was at the time, yes. >> supervisor ronen: i thought he was going outside his area when he worked on these properties? >> i may be proven wrong, supervisor, but i'm remembering that he was the senior inspector for that area. now, the question i think is more the district inspector should have been doing the inspections, not the senior inspector. >> supervisor ronen: i see. okay. so two days ago or whatever that was, four days ago, you had said, "he was outside of his area." you're saying you're not changing that. >> no on many other occasions
he was outside of his area. i believe that that particular project happened to be one of the projects that was actually in his area, but in many other instances since then, we have discovered that he was doing inspections outside of his areas. now, just as a frame of reference, we have 18 districts throughout the city and each senior, we have four seniors. they're each responsible for five or six of these districts. so mr. kern at the time was responsible for the southern portion of the city along with a couple of districts one of them being supervisor peskin's area of telegraph hill. so he had i think district 12 is where san bruno, we call it
district 12, inspection district 12 and that was one of his districts at that time, i can clarify that and get back to you and if i'm wrong i'll correct it but that's what my memory tells me. >> supervisor ronen: that's different from what we talked about a couple of days ago but that's either here nor there. but when you say it should have been the district inspector instead of the senior inspector going out to that property during the inspection time. mr. kern was outside the scope of what would regularly be his duties and his job, is that correct? >> correct. yes. >> supervisor ronen: and, my understanding is he did that regularly. you had told me a regular senior inspector may do anywhere from 25 maybe on the high end 50 inspections a year whereas mr. kern was doing upward of 300 inspections a
year. >> that's correct. we recently found that out through surveying our data. we actually got to higher data in the d.b.i. so now we're very good at finding some of these data sets. so we've found that evidence of what he was doing i want to say like in the last six months. >> supervisor ronen: okay. so now we're going to step forward to 2019 when the planning department discovered the violation and, you know, you brought mr. kern into your office and you looked at the site and you said, "how could this developer have gotten away with building 20 additional units? and why weren't any of the inspections other than the final inspection input into our system?" what did he tell you?
>> he told me that he had made notes on the contractor's job cards and he had done the inspections and he also told me that they must have created those additional units after his final inspection. that's what he told me. >> supervisor ronen: and then, when you asked him, why were you doing these inspections in the first place that's not your job it should have been the district inspector doing those inspections, what did he tell you? >> he told me that the inspector tom huey who head asked out there to go do the inspections. >> supervisor ronen: okay. and as his supervisor at that point, and i understand that at that point, you didn't realize that he was doing many more inspections than a normal senior inspector would do, but at this point, there's some
serious red flags going on. first of all, there's a project that has been grossly mishandled and a developer committing egregious violations. there's a senior inspector who should have never done but was told to go outside his normal duties and inspect the project. there was nothing noted in the permit database where it's very rare not to have inspections noted, but there was no info there. and, you know, you didn't have a job card in front of you at the time. red flags going up all over the place. what did you do as his supervisor to look into what was going on in that? >> after he told me that, are obviously, i was outraged and i reported it immediately. >> supervisor ronen: who did you report it to? >> supervisor, i can assure you
that when i found irregularities in the san bruno properties, i was communicating with the city attorney. the city attorney has advised me that disclosing any further specific details would jeopardize present communications. >> supervisor ronen: okay. that's very interesting. okay. i'm going to transition over to supervisor peskin and then supervisor melgar and then come back to another series of questions. go ahead, supervisor peskin. >> supervisor peskin: i'll defer to chair melgar relative to this speaking order, but i just want to hop in on the last thing was that our privilege communications, i just want to understand and i know that deputy city attorney keith is here. when we're talking about privilege, i just want to and i completely respect that there are thing that is should not be
said publicly relative to compromising an ongoing civil and potentially criminal not potentially but criminal investigation but i just want to understand and if you can articulate for the members of this panel and the public what that means so it's not just we can't know now, we can't ever know. i just want to understand the nature of that privilege. >> thanks, supervisor. for the members of the board, my name's peter keith, i'm the head of the code enforcement team. my team's not the only team in the office that's been involved with this project and trying to deal with this aftermath and continuing aftermath, the public integrity team in my office has also been involved and i'm glad to answer any questions about attorney client privilege. so the privilege here belongs
to the city and it belongs to the department of building inspection insofar as employees were reporting misconduct to the city attorney. the rule as to privilege, again, this is to protect as supervisor peskin this is to protect the integrity of our investigation and, you know, as much as we can disclose, i can disclose and i can say that we can disclose the generally, you know, by privilege law, we can disclose the general nature of the communications and the time frame, but if we disclose more than that, then that threatens to wave privilege as to the details of what the communications are which include very important information we use in our public integrity investigation
and our privilege case. it's to protect our ability to keep using that. that said, i did brief supervisor ronen last week confidentially and we can conduct a confidential briefings or distribute attorney client privilege memos to enlighten each of you more on these issues, but the problem is that if these statements are disclosed publicly, that would waive the privilege generally so that's why our office advised director o'rearden it's okay to disclose that he contacted our office regarding his concerns, but as to the specific content, we want to avoid waiving that. >> supervisor ronen: mr. keith, if i can follow up on that question. so when a project like this -- when it's discovered and mr. o'rearden informed your office that the director of the department ordered a senior
inspector to go outside his normal job duties to inspect a property where there was egregious violations of our code, who do you notify that that's -- that this project reaches the very top of the department? does the mayor get notified? does the board of supervisors get notified? does the controller's office get notified? what happens? >> so when our office receives a complaint of illegal or unethical conduct by a city employee, we take this very seriously. we investigate it solely. we go wherever the evidence takes us. we're constantly evaluating is there evidence that a law has been broken and is the evidence if we believe there is evidence, is the evidence strong enough to condense a decision maker whether that be a judge or an arbitrator or an
elected official to remove that official from office. so it's something that we take very seriously. we investigate and the decision about whether and when to disclose that outside of our office is one that's informed by a desire that if we do believe that this conduct has occurred, that that disclosure is going to be effective to get that corrupt official out of office. and so we wait to disclose until we believe we have enough evidence to go forward. >> supervisor ronen: was mr. huey's actions related to this particular project ever -- was the mayor or any other elected official or the controller's office made aware of his involvement in this particular project?
>> well, let me step back. in terms of talking about director huey, i mean, he was removed from office or he did resign from office in march of 2020 as related to other corruption matters. as far as whether the specifics of this were disclosed from this office prior to then, i don't know. >> supervisor ronen: is that something you could find out while we continue this hearing? >> i could. and i could certainly brief you about that confidentially. >> supervisor ronen: so you can't tell us whether or not anybody else within the city was informed that the director was ordering line staff to do things outside of their regular per view for a project that was grossly mishandled? >> i can tell you that we investigate allegations like that and we investigate every allegation that comes to us. whether that was shared outside this office, i simply don't
know the answer. >> supervisor ronen: i know, you were going to ask about that and when you found out can you just give us a yes or no on that. >> well, yes. i can do that privately. >> supervisor ronen: i don't understand why that can't be known publicly because i have concerns about the city attorney's office role in this as well in this entire case and that's part of this hearing and i need to know what the city attorney's office did to investigate. >> well, the particular steps that we take in any investigation remain confidential until we publicize the investigation. >> supervisor ronen: so it's your judgment that telling us whether or not anybody else out of the city attorney's office that is an elected official or anyone from the controller's office was notified has to be done privately and you can't say that publicly? >> without knowing the context, i don't have enough information to be able to say whether i can
say it publicly. >> supervisor ronen: okay. i'll move on. please find out and let us know whether or not you can tell us that publicly. >> i will. >> supervisor ronen: chair melgar. >> supervisor melgar: thank you so much, supervisor ronen. so i as my colleagues know what's on the bick before i got on the planning commission and i want to say it was like 2015, maybe 2014 there was a grand jury investigation in one of the recommendations was that we should move toward an electronic system to keep track of all of this stuff. you know, so yesterday i was signing up my kid for an enrichment program and on the form, you know, you have to fill out your name, your first name, your last name before you could go on to step number three which is what enrichment do you choose. to me, it is just mind boggling
that we could have a system where you could check off a final inspection without doing the seven inspections that are needed before that. so my question, mr. o'rearden, is you know this. like you stated in the future you have sort of realigned the supervision which i think is in one part of it. in my 50 plus years on this earth, i have found that human beings are complicated and that whenever someone gets away with something big and this is big it's because, you know, they have done small things they've gotten away with before and there's a culture that sort of permits that so there's like a system that permits you to do that because it's paper, because it's the job card that you check off rather than putting it into your own system that doesn't allow you to go to the last step without filling
out the first seven steps. what it does to the culture when somebody gets away with this and somebody else gets away with this and you see this happening. so my question to you is what steps are we taking towards making that system waterproof, like water tight so that you cannot give somebody a certificate of occupancy when you haven't done the inspection of the foundation? so when i was on the planning commission after having been on the bick, we constantly saw, you know, projects where some plans had been submitted to planning and then when they got to building, you know, there was all of a sudden a full demolition even though that wasn't in the plans or, you know, they did a whole vertical three-story addition. that was in the paper, that happened in my district. also, that lack of seamless regime between planning and
d.b.i. where a lot of stuff falls through, right because there's no way to track it. again, second question to you is what are we doing both in the sort of system of the tools that you use and how those tools are used by the people in the accountability for using those systems consistently which is what you need for culture change? >> thank you very much for that question, chair melgar. it's a very good question and i think it has a few parts to it. part of our reforms package is it speaks exactly to the fact that, you know, these checks and balances need to be in place so that the required inspections should occur before we get all the ways down the road and are issuing a final
certificate of completion. so one of the conversations we've had is that we at plan check, we identify which inspections are necessary and put stops in the system that will prohibit the final inspection from being signed off until those required inspections are are already in place for that specific project and i know i just described to supervisor ronen that seven inspections were approximately what would be required for the san bruno type projects, but we have projects that would be 100 inspections. we have projects that would be two inspections, but the way i process it in my mind is that can be identified like sooner rather than later and put blocks in place in the system. we do it already for how we require engineers to validate the structural work that relates to a building.
somebody cannot get a sign off until those engineers letters are checked off in the system. we call that special inspection. so i kind of think about the regular inspections that we do could be treated in a similar way. that's one thing. the other part of your question i think speaks to and you and i have had the conversations about technology and i agree with you, it needs to be far more seamless between all of these departments, not just planning, but all the other departments like the fire department and everybody else that we work with. some good news on that front, we have now -- we're now at a point where we're accepting electronic fan review projects. so anyone that wants to submit a project now electronically now can do so.
the point is we have a permit center team here who are the oversight for i think it's 13 city departments and we have working groups and steering committees and we're all trying to work together to create a more seamless system that's better for all of our customers and, i mean, you as supervisors get to questions and you come to me and if the system is more seamless, that doesn't -- might not end up happening. so i'll stop and hopefully i've answered some of your questions. >> chairman: so i'm so glad that you guys are making some progress, but can you tell me, so, you know, the your new online permitting system, how do you know that what is being submitted online is the same thing that has been submitted to planning? >> well, it is reviewed and confirmed between all the
departments. so everyone is looking at the same document. >> chairman: okay. well, that's great progress. >> thank you, supervisor. >> supervisor peskin: madam chair, unfortunately, apparently my camera is broken and john c. is on his way. i don't know if you can see me or not, but i can see all of you. >> chairman: we can see you. >> supervisor peskin: oh, great. excellent. i had a few questions that may seem pedestrian but i'd like to ask them whenever the time is right. >> chairman: go for it. >> supervisor peskin: so, you know, i've been around for a little bit of time, like a generation, 20 years, and i've seen departments come from low ebbs and completely reform themselves. i've seen formally respected
departments but one thing has never changed, d.b.i. has been like this despite numerous reform efforts by numerous not mayors, mostly by numerous boards of supervisors. mayors usually liked all the money that came with control of d.b.i. and generally kept their hands off of it or in the case of one mayor exacerbated the situation. but it was in the early 2000s that the board of supervisors insisted that d.b.i. get into the dawn of the 21st century and have computer technology and i will say it's a rather aggressive charge but it's true and documentable. d.b.i. worked actively for the better part of a dozen years to sabotage the system that the board of supervisors insisted
that they get and it's still not working 20 years later. i mean, we've had departments who've, you know, add computer systems that are no longer supportive at the same time the d.b.i. is not able to get the first system online and the system they do have and correct me if i'm wrong, mr. o'rearden, anybody at d.b.i. can go and manipulate the data. so once bernie kern puts the information in, they can go in there and change it. is that true or not true? >> no. that's not correct, supervisor. line staff, only the people who are assigned the privileges can make adjustments to the data and it usually is management from m.i.s. function and it would at least be a managerial function. >> supervisor peskin: right. so the senior can go in there if the senior is corrupt and go
undo what the supervisor did. >> reporter: the senior is not a manager. the senior doesn't typically have that access. >> supervisor peskin: typically. all right. i won't belabor that one, but let me start with some basic stuff. can you provide us with an organizational chart of the department? >> yes, sir. i can -- i don't have it on my computer right now, but i can forward it to you. >> supervisor peskin: or we can do it later in the hearing. >> okay. >> supervisor peskin: next, relatively pedestrian correct question which is performance evaluations. do you do them? how often? did mr. kern get one this year? last year? the year before? how often do senior inspectors get a performance evaluation? and what does performance
evaluations if done say? >> so we do performance evaluations annually and they're for july 1st to june 30th fiscal year period. we did not do one last year because of the upheaval with covid and we are doing them now this year and they're being submitted as we speak. >> supervisor peskin: okay. and, what about mr. kern? did he get them? >> not this year because he's no longer an employee of the department. >> supervisor peskin: i get that. what about pre-covid? >> pre-covid, yes. >> supervisor peskin: and, is that public information? can we see those? >> i can check into that, supervisor. >> supervisor peskin: i would like to see all his performance evaluations, who conducted them over what period of time. and then, what is the role of the d.b.i. commission? supervisor ronen wanted to know is the mayor informed? is the board of supervisors
informed? the board of supervisors is not informed i can say that for the record. is the d.b.i. commission informed of these ethical lapses real or alleged? >> so we presented to the bick last month on san bruno and i believe they have been apprised of what happened there previously. i don't have that information for sure, but we did a presentation last month. >> supervisor peskin: and then, you know, we are under seat and it's part of the file on this item as the land use committee of information that this is -- and i think you have said this before, mr. o'rearden and i think you said it very honestly and candidly that we agree, this is not just about
2867 san bruno avenue, this is about a culture and the memo random we have speaks to another equally egregious, i will with a grain of salt stick in the word alleged mall fooes m malfeasant. then you wake up one day and you read the newspaper and you get sick to your stomach. do you think this is more part of a pervasive culture,
mr. o'rearden? >> thank you for the question, supervisor peskin. i believe the vast majority of our staff are good, hard-working, honest people who process permits and do inspections with the utmost integrity. so when things like this happen, it's hard on them and it really pains me. i have said to them at the top, many people have left the department since i took over at high levels, mid levels and lower levels. if there are any bad apples still heres, we will find them and take action. >> supervisor peskin: thank you, mr. o'rearden. and i've heard those words before but i know you are sincere in saying them and i would certainly think this board of supervisors is more than happen to make that statement come true which brings me to a statement that mr. keith uttered which by the way i think was a correct statement and i think respectfully is part of the
problem which is there's no fear out there. there's no fear by people like mr. kern. there no fear by people like tom huey because you want to know what happens when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar? we do exactly what mr. keith said, we get that corrupt official out of the city government. most of the time, i'm deeply offended because they actually leave with their retirement. and so the actual message to people who are doing this stuff and who are that morally bankrupt saying hey, i can do this, are the worst thing is i can lose my job if i made enough money being a crook, it might be a risk worth taking. most of them don't go to jail unless, you know, and who ever thought i'd be saying to the praises of the federal bureau of investigation, the united states bureau is involved.
there's no culture, if you touch that plate, it's going to burn you and your family. the culture is you're just going to get shown the door and you're going to leave in the middle of the night and nobody's really ever going to think about you again and that is a culture that is ripe with incentive to do what mohamed nuru, and arelin kenny and go down the list and the only way it's going to work if they know the city attorney, the district attorney, the mayor, the d.b.i. commission, the now brand new soon yet to be the d.b.i. commission is going to uphold those people accountable long after they leave the government. that's the way you prevent this from happening. we all know that rodrigo santos is a socio pathic crook. and the same is true for john
pollard who is mentioned in this memo and the same is for these licensed engineers who have aided them and abetted them. but we still process their permits even though we know they're crooks. i mean, we treat them better than somebody who got busted for a misdemeanor is treated by society and that's the only way this stuff comes to an end is that city employees, the vast majority of them don't do this but the fear of the consequences. thank you for letting me say that after 20 years. >> supervisor ronen: here here supervisor peskin, and i have more questions for mr. o'rearden, but i want to say on that point and ask about the settlement agreement with the contractors and developers
behind this case. so first of all, why didn't this settlement agreement come to the board of supervisors for approval? >> thanks, supervisors. let me say settlement agreement. that helps the answer to your question. the settlement agreement is an agreement that developers will pay $1.2 million in penalties and, going forward, they will follow all orders of city departments to bring the property into legal status according to the deadline set by the legal department. so the settlement agreement provides for a punitive component and for a remedial. the unfair competition law and that's the type of case where we bring claimses on to behalf
of the people of the state of california as opposed to bringing them on to the city sxount of san francisco and that law provides both severe financial penalties with a four year statute of limitations. as well as injunctive relief that's fixing the problem and another of the statutes is the public nuisance law and that also has a public remedial of the violations, and that is also the case that we bring on behalf of the people of the state of california and so for these types of claims and other civil prosecutor claims, these are not the sorts of claims that go through the board of supervisors' process because they're not claims on behalf of the city and county of san francisco. >> supervisor ronen: so is it a choice to send this to the board of supervisors or is it -- it's just not mandated and
so you chose not to? sorry. in other words, could you send it to the board of supervisors for approval and you chose not to or is there something preventing you bringing it to the board of supervisors? >> i mean, generally speaking, whatever the apparent legal process is we follow and since the board of supervisors approval isn't part of it, we wouldn't normally follow. there's also in the sense that we bring claims on behalf of the people under the city's attorney granted under state law. that said, i have to say that there are some code enforcement cases that involve components like zoning cases, or real estate transactions and those we would certainly bring to the board of supervisors. but this type of case, that would not be the type of case we'd bring to the board of supervisors. >> supervisor ronen: well, that's a shame. had this come before me, there
have been no chance in hell it would have been approved. i don't know that every apartment of the 20 unit that is were illegally built, i don't know that those apartments aren't renting for $3,000. i do know that someone from the chronicle intervieweded one of the tenants living in one of those two-bedroom units and said he's a hotel maintenance worker and he's paying $3,000 a month for that two-bedroom apartment. since the violations were noticed, if all of those apartments were renting at $3,000 a month, the developers would have earned $1.8 million on those illegal units in rent. if they've been earning $3,000 since 2017 when they were given
the certificate of occupation illegally, they would have earned $3.240 million. how is a $1.2 million fine supposed to make it not worth the next developer to do everything in their power to go ahead and build 20 additional units that they're going to profit on handsomely despite a $1.2 million fine? >> so let me begin by agreeing
with you. i don't think a fine is enough. i agree with you and supervisor peskin that criminal prosecution is necessary in these cases and everyone here knows that our office only has civil prosecuting power and we only have the information and evidence gathering tools of a civil entity. we can't serve secret warrants and stuff like that. criminal authorities can. what we can do is bring to light what we can bring to light and what we can do is seek a civil settlement that is consistent with what we believe a court would award if we brought a case to court. and, you know, again, there's lots of details that go into analyzing settlement values of a case and i'm glad to brief you privately how this office arrived at the appropriate settlement value for this case. but fundamentally it compares favorably with what we have achieved in court. >> supervisor ronen: since you can't tell me what went into your thinking publicly and i'm
happy to hear that privately. i think it's outrageous that this city attorney's office is settling for a third of the amount that the developer has already profited off their illegal activity and then allowing them to gain at least $500,000 a year in perpetuity for this illegal scheme. it is highly insufficient. it will do nothing to either renovate the behavior of the past, put a, you know, whip the hand of the person that got caught with their hand in the cookie jar or make it less likely for actors in the future to do exactly what this developer did. it is barely a slap on the wrist and doesn't do anything to stop this behavior in the future and i have absolutely no
idea why we are settling for crumbs on such an egregious case. thank god there wasn't a fire in that building or we'd have dead bodies on our hands. the original demand letter was for $1.8 million which was not even close to sufficient, but why are we going forward and settling for $1.2 million on such an egregious complaint. >> you're right. and i think i already answered your question which was the amount of this settlement is favorably to what we would have done in court and what our office has and the reality of what courts award in cases like this. >> supervisor ronen: why did you decide to settle and not go to court and see if the egregious nature of the case would order the judge to order
a bigger penalty? >> i can brief you on the details privately on that. >> supervisor ronen: i'm just going to say, i am extremely angry. i wish this will go before me. i will look to see whether or not we can force 7,200 cases to come before us that impact the future behavior and life and safety of our constituents and i can't tell you how frustrated i am. >> supervisor, one final step to take is to the past legislation that enhances our ability to get penalties. i mean, again, i can say that with the remedies we have and with the experience that we have and the awards we do get, this was a settlement that
favorably. >> supervisor peskin: madam chair. i just want to make one suggestion, was why don't we have a closed session rather than there being one off conversation between supervisor ronen and the city attorney's office. maybe we can all join together tomorrow and call for a closed session. i think this rises to that level. i'm sorry for interrupting, supervisor preston, but i just wanted to throw that out while it was on my mind. >> supervisor preston: thank you, supervisor peskin. i certainly would support that kind of effort if you choose to bring that up at our hearing tomorrow. i just wanted to -- a lot of thoughts on this, i wanted to speak more immediately to the line of questions that supervisor ronen was just pursuing and just clarify a bit on what i was not expecting to be discussing but i'm very concerned about which is this idea of what does and what does
not come before the board of supervisors. i will say as chair of g.a.o. and the body that hears the settlements it's news to me that we don't review settlements of 7,200 claims and probably because in many cases, we do review settlements of 7,200 claims that presumably involve other causes of action. and so i imagine that the difference and maybe, mr. keith, you can clarify, but it's certainly not the case that our g.a.o. committee does not review 7,200 claims even if those claims are brought on behalf of the people of the state of california. if you can just clarify that is what makes it different that the city attorney's office opted to only pursue 7,200 and the other claim that you mentioned that were state law claims and did not also choose
to pursue any claims that were local in nature and would have required you to come before g.a.o.? >> i mean, i think the type of claim that could be that would compare with the 7,200 claims would be, for example, a breach of contract claim, informing a city contract and the city had a claim to get that money back and that claim predominated, that would be the reason why such a claim would come before g.a.o., but this case did not involve any type of a contract claim. >> supervisor preston: i mean, this is really concerning. i am happy to talk off line and not in a public hearing about the thinking behind the decisions of which claims to bring but it's very concerning to me that this claim would not come before g.a.o. and there's considerable discretion. it's inconceivable to me that
we're alleging such an extension corruption complaint that there are not also violations of local law. i imagine there may be tactical reasons for choosing one cause of action or another, but i certainly hope one of those tactical considerations is not whether it triggers board of supervisors' review. i doubt that's the situation and i don't know if you're free to comment on it, but there's just no way these are only -- like they're certainly violations of local law wrapped up in the factual allegations here. >> yeah. that's true. there are allegations of -- >> supervisor preston: i would just say as chair of g.a.o., i am alarmed of this case of importance that the decision your office makes and whether alleging them on behalf of the people of san francisco versus the state of california is
going to dictate whether the board of supervisors ever sees this kind of settlement before it's finalized short of someone calling for a hearing. so, please comment on that publicly. >> yeah. i mean, so there are lots of different types of claims that can be brought by the city attorney's office and whether they're brought under local law or under state law is not the only issue. it's also the type of claim that's brought and so i think the answer is longer than that. i can say that for the past 20 years and counting, code enforcement cases have not been brought before a board of supervisor approval unless they do involve some kind of zoning change or real estate transaction. i mean, that's just a matter of history. so this is nothing new and to the point of whether we -- when the office considered bringing
it to the board or opted to, this, i mean, not having brought this case to the board is simply consistent with what the practice has been for 20 odd years. again, as to the legal analysis, i think we're now getting down into the weeds to a point where it needs to be done on a more confidential basis. which, again we can provide that. >> supervisor preston: we have a lot of ground to cover here. so i don't want to belabor the point. i will say that i look forward to some further discussions with your office. again, if it is and the city attorney's office settles cases of this importance all the time including these corruption cases when they have a civil component that land in the g.a.o. committee. we've had robust discussion either in public or closed session as is appropriate.
it is -- i'm really disturbed by the bakt that this one didn't land there and also have only been chair of g.a.o. until this year. if there's history, i'd love to know it. i'd like a little more information on just the past practice of these code enforcement or corruption cases and whether outside of this one are or are not coming through g.a.o. and my hope is that there's discretion whether it has to come before g.a.o. or not that our committee would at least be briefed even a formal board approval is not required, but i'll leave it at that and turn it back over to supervisor ronen. >> supervisor, if i can just make a point to the corruption cases. >> supervisor preston: sure. >> cases against corruption those come to g.a.o. because of the nature of the case. again, i want to be as clear as i can about what the practice has been and how the nature of the claim dictates whether
board of supervisors' approval is needed. >> supervisor preston: yeah. the final thing i want to say, virtually any violation is the evolution of business and professions code 1700, the unfair competition. city attorney can up to pursue virtually any case under that law and anyone who is familiar with that law knows how incredibly broad it is. so it is, i will just repeat that it is alarming that a case brought under that statute would not come before us and i'm looking forward to engaging with your office further going forward and history making sure we're seeing those in our committee. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor melgar. >> supervisor melgar: thank you, supervisor ronen. i just wanted to go back into something in your line of questioning. so in mr. teags' presentation,
you recounted how we found out about this in that your planner went out to inspect the inclusionary housing obligation of this developer and found that things were not as they should be. and so i remember because i'm, you know, old, when after the supervisor codified the inclusionary housing obligation, we spent time in coming up with this system where a certificate of occupancy could not be issued until that obligation was met. so i'm wondering what happened here, you know, like so and then i also want to know what was the outcome. so in this $1.2 million settlement, are we also
assessing? because, you know, if they building 40 units instead of 10, that's more inclusionary housing if they wanted to cash out rather than include it. so are we charging them interest on those $4.2 million that they should have paid into the affordable housing fee? what's up with that? what happened to the inclusionary housing obligation? [please stand by]
. >> now, we're doing it by square footage, and we're capturing it by the square footage, and it's going to capture the expansion to the sixth building. it didn't get tacked on, because the sponsors didn't include that. the original buildings were five on one lot, but part of the time it took to get to where we are is because things changed while we were doing it. the sixth building has been pulled into this overall project and abatement process and will be part of the approval that's in front of the
planning commission and myself when it goes forward. >> supervisor ronen: so i'm sorry. i'm confused now. so you're saying that the affordable housing fee is part of this -- because that cannot be. >> no, not the settlement. >> okay. >> the affordable housing fee that we have to charge, we can only charge what the code says we can charge, and then, it calls out it's not a punitive program, it's just designed to bring about abatement, whereas the city attorney has more
authority. >> supervisor melgar: just for the planning code. so then, the 1.2 million fees, those are assessed based on the building code enforcement or they're punitive? >> they're punitive, yeah, as opposed to the affordable housing fees, which are just set by the planning code, and then, there's the provisions that mr. gee mentioned for interest. >> and i said that i'm just covering -- mr. teague mentioned for interest. >> and i just said that i'm covering for planning. i don't know if there's additional fees for violations through the fire department or d.b.i. >> supervisor melgar: i understand. thank you for that, and i look forward to a closed session to get to know all of the details because it seems if somebody gets approved for ten and then
all of a sudden builds 40, that's a de facto change. and then, my question was to director o'riordan, if he's still around. thank you, supervisor ronen, for making the law of the land, but i know one time we did have a different system. did we do away with it or did it just get ignored in the system? what happened? >> yeah. in this instance, chair melgar,
yes, you're right. this was a check, and if it was a requirement, even mr. kern wouldn't be able to issue a notice of violation because the system would shut it down. either it wasn't in there, but the c.f.c. could not be issued if that requirement was in the system, and then, i see it in the system all the time. i can get back to you on that. >> chair melgar: so what do you mean, it was in the system? >> well, if it was in the system, it would have made it so the c.f.c. could not be issued and it would show as complete in the system. simply put, it wouldn't show
from issued to complete with this guardrail in place. >> chair melgar: so does that mean that at planning it was missed or the mayor's office of housing didn't do the checkoff? >> i don't know. i don't know at this point, chair melgar, but i can certainly look into it and get back to you on that. >> chair melgar: thank you. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor peskin? >> supervisor peskin: yeah, so a few disjointed thoughts and questions. who is the project sponsor? this shows my profound ignorance. who is 2867? what is the name of the project sponsor? who are the humans associated with probably what is an l.l.c. or whatever? >> supervisor ronen: director
riordan, do you want to answer that? >> yeah, i am associated with the group, and i think the group included probably five or so individuals, and peter can probably correct me on this, but one gentleman was alfred lee. >> supervisor peskin: and is alfred lee known to you, mr. riordan? >> yes. >> supervisor peskin: and how is he known to you? >> the department has had to deal with some violations related to his work in the past, obviously, on a much smaller scale than san bruno, but he would be known to me and people like joe duffy in the department who have had to deal with complaints related to his projects in the past? >> supervisor ronen: sorry, supervisor peskin. let me give you all the names just in case. the one that is known to the
department is mr. lee, but there's also [inaudible], who goes by margaret tan, [inaudible] who goes by melton tong, young ling lee, who goes by alfred lee, who mr. riordan was just talking about, and cindy jalzy. >> supervisor peskin: okay. those names mean nothing to me, but i never forget a face. is mr. lee a contractor, a developer? what is mr. lee in your experience, mr. riordan? >> i remember him as both, actually, supervisor peskin. he would have been a developer on some projects, and i think he might have been a contractor in some other instances. >> supervisor peskin: and insofar as as this board of
supervisors has expressed our on going concerns -- as a matter of fact, i just did a letter of inquiry last week as to why mr. rodrigo santos' names continues to show up on fliers -- i'm just looking here. i saw one in my stack of papers somewhere in this file -- and to that, you created a list or your department created a list of project sponsors, contractors, ne'er-do-wells for scrutiny. did mr. lee make it on your list of people that get extra scrutiny? >> can i defer that question to mr. duffy, supervisor, if you don't mind, because he is our expert in the arena of the
audit? >> supervisor peskin: sure. >> so supervisor peskin, absolutely. mr. lee will be part of our audit. we're going to be reviewing projects that he's done in the past. my experience with him over a few years as a district inspector, as a senior, and i have dealt with him over a few years, nothing rises to the level of this problem, but i did have some run-ins with him, but we will be looking at his projects as part of the audit control team. he's not on the compliance control file yet on the ordinance that supervisor ronen has introduced. that was only since april 27, i believe, of this year, so he hasn't been on it yet, but we are going to be looking at his projects. >> supervisor peskin: got it.
and i assume there is an architect of record? there may be an engineer of record, there's probably a contractor of record. who are they? what are their names? >> supervisor ronen: mr. riordan or -- >> sorry, supervisors. joe duffy, d.b.i. here. so the architect that i have is maimai lee, and i have a jeremy swab as an architect, as well. >> supervisor peskin: what about any permit expediters? >> i did see a permit expediter earlier on the permit that was submitted to legalize the work, and that was someone called by the name of p.m.t. consulting. not sure who that is. >> supervisor peskin: and who
is the contractor? >> on the main permit, and that was richard -- richard lin. >> supervisor peskin: and i see, mr. teague, you have your hand up. is that in response to any of this? >> there's actually a follow-up to chair melgar's questions about the system for ensuring affordable housing, so i'm happy to respond to that when you're complete with this line of questioning. >> supervisor peskin: got it. mr. teague, do you have any information -- i assume it's not just the project sponsor, but it's a contractor with a valid contractor's license, it's an architect with the state of california, architectural license to practice in the state of california. here's what happens. this goes back to my original thing, which is i expect that when crooks employ crooks, that we have an affirmative obligation to go to the licensing board of architects,
to go to the licensing board of general contractors, and to have them disbarred and have their licensed revoked by the state of california. have we done that? >> we have the ability to do that to the state licensing board. we have done it in some cases? in this case, we have not. it's not one of the issues here, is that it is unclear who did the illegal work beyond the developer, which, based on their record, we suspect that they did it. >> supervisor peskin: okay. so we are still fact-finding, but if we find that the contractor did it, do we report the contractor to the state? >> yes, and it's with the state licensing board. >> supervisor peskin: do we know, mr. -- >> supervisor ronen: if i could chime in here, supervisor
peskin, not only is it possible, we have a d.b.i. administrative bulletin number 40 that we passed in 2002 that requires d.b.i. to report to the state licensing board, and so i don't -- i don't understand -- so i want to confirm with mr. o'riordan, have we done that, and if not, why not? >> so the process -- and thank you for the question, supervisor ronen. if you look at a.b. 40, i believe it states that we work with the city attorney on a referral to the state licensing authority, and this is an on going investigation, i believe, and we are -- all of those conversations are probably being had, peter, is that correct? >> i'm sorry. i don't understand what your question is. >> so a.b. 40 requires the
referral of these individuals to the state licensing authorities to the city attorney's office, so we're still assembling the list of folks. we don't know who did the work. that's one of the things -- who did the work to create the additional units, i think that's still under investigation. the architect -- and i'm not, you know, saying anything here about if we should refer the architect, but the architect may have been long gone when all of this happened. they may know nothing about it. >> supervisor ronen: i'm sorry, but the contractor is richard chuen, with a san bruno address. he received permit to build ten units and then built 30, so
why, you know, four years since we discovered this violation, have we not reported pursuant to d.b.i. administrative bulletin 40, him to the state licensing board? >> we don't know if he did the licensing work. we're unclear on that. >> supervisor peskin: well, that's for the state board to figure out, right? >> supervisor ronen: so i'm sorry. this is who is listed on the contractor on the project, so it would be this person's responsibility to clear that up and explain who did the work. that might be the best way of getting to the bottom of it, and it's very [inaudible] my legislation requires now, by law, that you make that referral, but i -- i -- i --
i'm a little bit dumbfounded that it hasn't happened already, and i want to understand why that hasn't happened, mr. keys. >> as i alluded to earlier, we don't know who did the work -- [inaudible] >> supervisor ronen: you don't think it's appropriate that the person listed on the project who's responsible -- the responsible contractor of record is referred to the state licensing board when so many egregious licensing violations have taken place? >> we don't know if this developer did the work or if subsequent developers did the work. >> supervisor ronen: and this information, it's very important that we let the state licensing board know that? again, with this -- [inaudible] >> -- if we don't know that -- if we don't have evidence that someone was involved, then it doesn't rise to the level of a
referral. we simply don't -- [inaudible] >> supervisor ronen: so it doesn't matter which contractor they put on the permit? we can say, put any contractor that you want, and until we can hold you responsible if you did the work. >> no, that's not what we're saying. >> well, you're saying we don't make referrals to the state licensing board when a contractor's name is on a project where there's violation until we prove that it's that contractor that did the work, so we really don't hold them responsible for the project? that doesn't really make any sense to me. >> we don't know the timing of when that work was done, so we don't know if the contractor that was on the original permit was responsible for that work. >> supervisor ronen: so you don't hold them responsible for the project.
>> no, we do hold them responsible for the project, but we don't know if that work happened before or after this specific contractor -- >> supervisor ronen: and how has this contractor, mr. tulin, license number 22844, been held accountable in this project? >> if more information comes to light that he did the work, then he'll be held accountable. >> supervisor ronen: you just said you held him accountable and he has been held accountable. how have you held him accountable? >> no, i'm saying we don't know when they did the work -- >> supervisor ronen: in reaching a settlement agreement, did you not require knowing who did the work before you reached that settlement agreement? like, isn't that a basic fact to know before you reach settlement terms?
>> we reached settlement terms based on the nature of the violations that were done, and he agreed to the violations. that was not a piece of information that, frankly, we would have found credible one way or the other had he provided it to us. >> supervisor ronen: mr. keys, inspections done on this property were not inserted into the system that the city has. the chief inspector that was indicted by the f.b.i. and let go maybe a month before the indictment but, you know, tons of information showing that there's some problem with this individual did not lead to discipline as we know about it until the indictment from the f.b.i., but said there was a job card, even though it's been years since we've seen a job
card. there is a contractor listed on all of the permit applications that you say you don't know if the work was done by them or not. how were these basic evidence and answers to these questions not obtained before a settlement agreement was reached? >> there's no way to verify who did that work. >> supervisor ronen: mr. keys, you can ask for anything in a settlement agreement. >> we certainly ask questions, and we certainly -- >> supervisor ronen: may i finish? [inaudible] and until i know that all the tenants will be kept in this building. you can do that in a settlement agreement, no matter what the agreement is, no matter what the remedies are agreed to in court.
you can demand all of these things before a settlement agreement. why didn't we make any of these demands to get this vital information to help us not only in the investigation of corruption in this case but in protecting the tenants who live there and getting to the bottom of whose license needs to be suspended for doing this unpermitted outrageous work? why didn't we use our power to get that basic information in this case? >> so we did request the job card. the developer claimed that the job card no longer existed. and with regard to the safety of the tenants, following the initial measures that were taken by the fire department and by department of building inspection and our services, demands that those measures be followed, the tenants were protected, and it was the judgment of the fire department and the building inspection department that the building could safely be occupied
pending legalization, so those two things were dealt with and addressed. >> supervisor ronen: i will finish with this. i'm an attorney. i've settled a number of cases in my time. i have looked at the overall well-being of my clients in the public when negotiating those settlement agreements because you give up quite a bit when you decide not to go to trial. for example, a penalty amount that would, in any way shape or form, dissuade the behavior. make sure they're credited for back rent when they were living in a -- in unsafe building. i mean, we are not holding these contractors, these owners, these developers' feet to the fire in any way, shape,
or form in this settlement agreement. we're not even getting basic information, like who is the contractor that built these units in the first place. i'm extremely disappointed, and you cannot tell me that we can't get those type of agreements in a settlement agreement because we can get whatever agreements we so choose to pursue. and it is, once again, my opinion, as an attorney that this settlement agreement is not protecting the tenants, it's not protecting the city, it's not setting any precedent where we are dissuading the type of behavior from this contractor or future contractors, and it's certainly not making sure that we get these guys to the state licensing board. it's a complete failure in my opinion, and i don't understand why we're not taking this matter more seriously. >> as to protection of the tenants' rights, the tenants
have rights, as do their landlord, whether they want to seek protections. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor melgar? >> supervisor melgar: when i was on the planning commission, we would see developers who built outside of their permits, and then, they would blame it on their contractors. contractors operate on a fairly thin profit margin, so if they're not specifically getting paid to do something,
they're not going to do it because it costs them time, materials, all kinds of things, so i'm interested in holding the owner accountable because i do think that's where this came from. i don't believe the contractor would have done something without the owner's, you know, permission or pressure, right? so i am wondering, mr. keys, because i am wondering in the past -- probably not recently because our real estate values are so high. but in the past, the city attorney has taken possession of the city when buildings were in immediate danger to the tenants through neglect. i know that buildings were put
into receivership. i wonder if you guys thought about that. not just exposing the tenants that are there now, but future tenants, so it seems to me that this owner has proven that they are not a responsible owner, landowner and developer, and it's -- you know, i'm not an important, but it seems to me, knowing the enforcement of the code enforcement division, and i know that code enforcement has done this in the past, when property owners were irresponsible and neglectful and put their tenants lives' at risk because, you know, a code
enforcement issue, the city steps in and took possession of those buildings, so i'm wondering if that was considered at all? >> yes. well, in the beginning, when the issue came to light in terms of fire and just generally speaking, whether the electrical systems were what was required for a certain number of occupants. had the -- had the property owners disobeyed the orders issued by the department of building inspection and the fire department, there would have been a basis to seek a receiver, but they followed those orders, and that meant there was not a basis to seek a receiver. a receiver, as you pointed out, they're to make sure that the property isn't terribly unsafe, and so since they followed the orders from the department to make the property not terribly unsafe, not legalized, by a far
cry, but that there was no basis at that point to seek receivership, we certainly would have, had they certainly disobeyed those orders. >> supervisor melgar: so it's because they asked for forgiveness and took steps to come into compliance. so if they take steps to come into compliance, that sort of channels you into one step or another, and then, you're looking into -- >> since the danger to the residents of the building was dealt with, we did not have a path to a receiver. it wasn't so much giving them
another chance, it's just that the law says if you [inaudible] then you -- there's not a basis to get a receiver. >> supervisor melgar: but isn't it now -- so i -- i mean, i drove by -- it's been a while, because it was before the break that i went by, but there was scaffolding still up instead of likes a proper egress. isn't there safety -- >> i agree. there are degrees, and there has to be substantial endangerment. if there were further orders that they disobeyed, that would be further, but i defer to fire about the safety of the property as we speak.
>> supervisor melgar: how long can the scaffolding be up on the -- it just still seems like they're getting away with a bunch, to me. >> supervisor, yeah, so the scaffolding, it's considered temporary, and as the city attorney and d.b.i. worked through the settlement, coming them into order direction, so we are working with them to keep the building occupied and providing safety as much as possible, and providing a second egress. that was one of the conditions or problems, the occupant on the fourth floor not having a second way out, and they do since we've been notified. >> supervisor melgar: and how long can the scaffolding be considered a temporary egress. we live in a very foggy climate. scaffolding is metal, and it
rusts. so i'm the supervisor for district 7. i cannot imagine that something like that would happen in my district or region or in pacific heights. the neighbors would just, like, have our heads, so i'm just wondering how long can that be up there as that temporary measure? >> well, we don't determine, or -- the temporary measure. i know they most likely rented scaffolding, so the company that's rented it has to take responsibility for the scaffolding. >> supervisor melgar: we're letting them get away with it. we're letting them get away with that as using the secondary fire egress instead of using a proper -- >> and i would defer to the city attorney and then d.b.i. who's working out a way to get them to comply and make it a legal resident. in the meantime, to keep everybody housed, that is their -- this is the solution
to keep people in their homes. otherwise, by code, if they don't have that second egress, everybody on the fourth floor, those ten units, would have to move out tomorrow. >> supervisor melgar: sure, and they're paying $3,000 a month. >> supervisor ronen: on that same note [inaudible] worst case scenario, none of them happened. how are we making sure not just the fire egress issues, but these units are safe, foundation is safe, the roof is safe, the walls are safe? what are you doing? >> that's a good question, and thank you, supervisor ronen. so initially, we have conducted a site visit, and mr. duffy was actually out there on august 13, and we determined, at least
proposal for ten units, and similarly, i'm going to be considering variances for the project. i'm going to have discretion to approve or grant or deny conditions, so we will have the same level of approval of conditions that we typically have. the difference is we're not starting from scratch, but with that in mind, the commission would have the typical level of discretion, and the settlement agreement calls that out. the settlement agreement states the violation. that has to be followed
diligently and completed. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor peskin? >> supervisor peskin: yeah. supervisor ronen, i really appreciate your line of questioning and completely share your frustration, so let me try this a little bit differently and see if i get any further. i'm just going to change tactics just a little bit relative to admin bulletin 40 with respect to all of this, and that is, mr. riordan, how many wrong doers have you referred to the state licensing boards over time? >> in total, honestly, supervisor, not very many. rodrigo santos was one that we worked with the city attorney for that referral, and it has been a long time since that referral was made, and i don't -- we know that i still
maintains his license, and they haven't -- to to my knowledge, they haven't moved the ball on revoking or suspending his license. he's one -- i remember somebody else from several years ago, but it's not a common -- d.b.i. enforces its codes, it is mostly on the property owner, the owner, but there are contractors and developers and architects and everything else, but i hear what you're saying. >> supervisor peskin: yeah. i mean, if you want to change the culture, you don't want to just -- you've got more than changing the culture within. you have to change the culture without that influences the culture within, and if you can have an entire change in the
ethos of d.b.i., where everybody actually realizes in addition to the fundamental duty of life safety and inspections, that their job is to root out corruption both inside and outside the department, it is this is corruption that gave bernie kern the alleged $180,000 loan. they're worse than bernie because it's out-and-out corruption. this notion of having scaffolding doesn't rise to the level of a super serious violation, that is some janky duct tape and bubble gum solution to a life safety issue. it's funny. you look at this project the
wrong way, it's oh, well, you know, they've got permits for ten, and they built 30 units of housing. that's more housing. but if there's a fire -- people go oh, we have to streamline this process, but that's why we don't have fires where 300 people burn to death like what we see in other countries. i don't want to be -- when people die or get seriously hurt, that's really, really bad, and the notion that this doesn't rise to the level of the city attorney's office because this form of egress, which is literally from scaffolding -- it's been in the newspaper. you can see it on-line -- that,
to me, rises to the level of, like, serious. i don't know how that doesn't -- i mean, i don't know what the test is, but mr. keeffe, you said what would help the city attorney -- and i don't recall the city attorney ever asking for this, but i'm happy to work and provide this -- with additional penalties. what additional penalties would you propose? >> well, they can be key to the nature of the violation, they can be set, minimum types of violations for certain violations per units. there's a certain number of ways to get at problems like this. i mean -- let me put it this
way: there are ways to enhance ways to get penalties, and if the board is interested in them, we would be happy to propose those ideas. >> supervisor peskin: absolutely. i would be happy to work with my colleagues on this panel, supervisor ronen, to get to this. the problem is every time something like this happens, the city does not use the tools that it has because of some extenuating circumstances. the extenuating circumstance in san bruno is oh, my gosh, the $3,000 a month tenants, and we can't displace them; so we have to reward the law maker. you guys did something so far beyond the pale that you guys have to relocate and compensate these people.
and often times, we have illegal demolition. well, the code says if you do an illegal demolition, the department can, but almost never, can say that no building permit shall issue on that site for a period of ten years. i cannot remember the department invoking that tool in a month of sundays, and the reason they don't do that is because nobody wants to see that hole on their block, so that law isn't used to punish the law breakers because it punishes the neighborhood so d.b.i. doesn't use that. so basically, the law breaker has every incentive to break the law until we get serious, which is especially forcing the lay, invoking the five-year
penalty. you want additional penalties and fines? i think you'll get -- i don't want to speak for my colleagues, but i think you'll get an 11-0 vote. no disrespect to mr. riordan, who i think in my heart is trying to do the right thing. by the way, when i'm looking at that organizational chart, can you tell me, mr. riordan, what spot did mr. sweeney occupy in that organizational structure in that chart that you provided us? >> he was a senior inspector in building services. >> supervisor peskin: and what happened to mr. sweeney? >> i decided to retire in november time frame last year, i would say. >> supervisor peskin: okay. i won't spend anymore time on
that, but after 20 years -- and maybe, colleagues, it is time to see what the charter provides us. i know mr. riordan is trying hard. i know he's restructuring his command staff and leadership, and supervisor ronen, we bumped into each other over the weekend, and we both said it's time for some big ideas, but as we're thinking those big ideas that may require charter reform, they come in many different flavors that have been talked about but never done over the years which range from merging with planning to putting it under the city administrator, i really wonder out loud, as somebody who used to work in receivership, and no disrespect to mr. riordan, whether we can actually invoke emergency provisions of our
charter, [inaudible] when all of this with commissioner richards happened, i think many of us rolled our eyes and said he was in some kind of a political vendetta. well, not so much. and by the way, this implicates a number of people. this implicates a gentleman who was put on the board of appeals by a mayor and now was put on the board of appeals by the board of supervisors. this is pretty systemic, and i think in addition to having a closed session at the board of supervisors around the things that are privileged, i think we should explore whether or not we can invoke emergency powers to put temporarily at least
d.b.i. under the city administrator. thank you. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor peskin, real quick, before turning this hearing back over to chair melgar, mr. riordan, was anyone referred to the city attorney? >> i'm not aware of that happening, supervisor ronen. >> supervisor ronen: mr. keeffe? >> the individuals we refer for criminal prosecution, we keep as confidential. >> supervisor ronen: chair melgar? >> supervisor melgar: thank you, supervisor ronen. so just going back to something that supervisor peskin was talking about in terms of the
potential for legislation to increase penalties, especially -- of culture change within and without the department, so i hope that we can work together to give you the tools that you will need to do this, even if it's, like, major changes. just like i think contractors don't go off and do stuff without being paid for it if the owners are not paying for it, they're not going to do it. i also think that somebody like
bernard curran, who was supposed to do 25 to 30 inspections a year and ended up doing 300, those extra 270 inspections were just for a reason. i don't think he went out there for the heck of it and didn't expect something because we don't do that as humans, right? so i'm just wondering what we're going to do in terms of, you know, any, like, potential tools to help you, you know, make sure that folks who stray from what they were supposed to be doing, that they're held accountable in the future so they won't do that. >> chair melgar, i thank you, and i appreciate any assistance
that the board can provide to this department, because like i said earlier, this is all about finding out where we were, and to a future where we -- you know, we can establish -- reestablish the public trust. so, really, it started with the tone at the top, and my leadership, i've made it clear to staff and especially managers that i value transparency, accountability, and efficiency, along with good customer service. i've made it clear that i expect them to perform their jobs with integrity. i'm fostering a culture in which i'm encouraging people to speak up and call out wrong behavior. we are making progress, and to what supervisor peskin said about a.b. 40, assigning some of these contractors and referring them to state agencies through the city
attorney, that is all a discussion we're having in relation to our reforms and our audits of all of these projects that have, you know, gone before, you know, up to now, so we're looking at that. christine is looking at that. she's working with the controller's office, she's working with the city attorney's office on what our reforms package -- on what our reforms are because we've been looking at this and working on reforms for several months now. if you would like, i can have christine just give you a quick update on what we're doing with our reforms and our audits. christine, would you mind? >> good afternoon, supervisors. christine [inaudible], assistant director at d.b.i. really, there are two parts to it. back in may, we launched a
reforms initiative. we worked with all the department managers, came up with a log with the reforms and started putting that into action later this year. it involves administrative reforms, customer service training, more customer service training, especially for our staff, and some of the controls that we've been talking about here with inspections, and with -- and with [inaudible], and then, regarding the control -- the work that we're doing with the controller, the controller's office has been working with [inaudible] -- i'm sorry? can you hear me? >> supervisor ronen: yes, we can hear you.
>> so the controller's office has put together a report that i think is going to come out later this week. a lot of the suggestions that the controller's office made are things that we've already put in place, and we've put together an independent review process for that, and we are bringing in a new committee as well as bringing in a compliance unit in the department. >> chair melgar: okay. thank you.
>> supervisor ronen: i just wanted to note that the last question that chair melgar asked was the last question that i had. but i hope that when, you know, the different set of allegations and complaints against mr. lee are settled, that [inaudible] because it's because of his incompetence that d.b.i. is having to do this work. again, we're not going to change the culture. we're not going to dissuade future similar behavior if there aren't real repercussions for this pattern and practice of corruption at the department, so, you know, it
shouldn't be a taxpayer that has to cover, you know, a reinspection of his failed work. it should be that -- the people that engaged in the corruption and criminal behavior in the first place that paid for that work. i know this hearing has gone on long, and people need to get going, so i'd like to let mr. teague provide some closing comments, and then i'll hand it over to chair melgar. >> thank you, supervisor ronen. the original project had, you know, five individual buildings, and it was a new construction permit for each of those, and we talked about the contractor on file there. each one of those buildings also had a revision permit issued while it was under
construction, and at least for a couple of those permits, the listed contractor was also the property owner, so just to put that information out there in terms of whoofs actually listed on -- who was actually listed on which work. and then, responding to chair melgar's comment about a system for affordable housing and ensuring that it was put in place. i was a little thrown off about thinking about it as a specific system for affordable housing and failed to think about it in the context, we have a number of housing units that come into existence -- we have it built into the permit tracking system, so things like impact fees or when street trees used to be a requirement in the planning code, or affordable housing -- the in-kind requirement, so i was able to
have staff look into that. and for this particular project, the affordable housing requirement was input into the system, but because there was never a fulfillment date, and the box was never checked in this case, but the system does require, like for any obligation that's permitted after the site permit, generally, those obligations have to be met before the t.c.o. you're correct. i was just thinking about it differently from the way you were describing is, so i just wanted to clarify that. >> supervisor melgar: thank you, mr. teague, but that still doesn't answer my question, that how they got the certificate of occupancy without the box being checked. >> yeah, i don't have that answer. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor
preston? >> supervisor preston: thank you, supervisor ronen and chair melgar. it's hard to know where to go on this. colleagues talked a lot about the need for potentially stiffer consequences, and in the case that someone is criminally prosecuted, that they're unlikely to [inaudible] i think i want to focus a little bit on the other -- on another aspect to that. like, no matter how stiff your penalties are, no matter how good your system is, when you
have this kind of misconduct, it really requires people to blow the whistle, right? it requires -- like, whistle blowers are an absolutely key part of any system, and so i just wanted to comment a bit but also to hear a bit from director riordan and perhaps others on this. i will say this as someone who only came into city hall in the last 1.5 years. there's a lot of good things about the city hall culture in san francisco. one of the bad things is not just the thought of people profiting through their scheme. one of the things is in san francisco city government, the
willingness to compromise your values, to keep your mouth shut and just go along, is not just rewarded financially in a particular scheme and how much the unit sells for, but you see people sail through the ranks, and it's really deeply offensive. and i want to say it's such a disservice to all the people that are actually working their butts off, from folks at the lowest levels to those working on the frontlines. we cannot ignore the so-called culture of corruption, people coming forward and calling that out. people feeling like they risk their careers, their lives, and gain more by being quiet than they do by speaking up. and i've talked about this in
g.a.o. and other context. we need to change about how we look at our whistleblower contexts. we need to benefit from coming forward, which incenti incenti private individuals significantly by coming forward. let me just ask you a couple of questions around this issue as applied to -- like, director o'riordan, to the extent that you can address this publicly, is it your understanding that other folks in the department beyond the people who have been named in criminal complaints
were aware of this misconduct and did not go -- come forward? you're muted. >> sorry. i'm not aware if that is the case, whether it is or is not the case, but i agree totally with your sentiment, supervisor preston. i couldn't agree more, and i think a lot of what this is is giving people a sense of empowerment. >> supervisor preston: you know this department well. you've been there a while. it seems absolutely
inconceivable, the not just alleged but admitted corruption occurring, it seems completely inconceivable that there were not many people who knew who was going on. am i incorrect in making that assumption, from your -- and again, i'm not asking for you to talk about specific people or confidential, you know, whistle blower complaints or so forth, but am i looking at that wrong? based on what you know of the department, is it possible that something like this occur and only people that know about it know about it within the department? >> no. what i know about that supervisor, and thank you for the question, is a lot of people have left since my appointment. we have a whole new executive team, and i keep going back to
this. you know, it's a culture shift at the top, and if people feel empowered to report wrongdoing, and they feel that those responsible will face accountability, that's how i'm approaching it. now i wouldn't venture to guess who all these people were in the past and what they did. i simply don't know, and i've always been on a different track than to be, like, one of those people. >> supervisor preston: thank you for the comments and for -- you know, i agree on setting the tone at the top. i think that's part of it, certainly, and in this -- in
that spirit, i guess, my next question is what are you doing to support whistle blowers coming forward, and what is your support of your knowledge of people who may have known what is going on? how are you going to support them if they speak up? >> thank you, supervisor. we are letting them know if they know of any wrongdoing -- and part it is messaging.
we send e-mails to staff and encourage them to anonymously make us aware of any wrongdoing in their day-to-day work here at the department, and it's an on going process. it doesn't happen overnight. there's a lot of heavy lifting with this, because in the culture shift, you have to go from a place where they may not have been comfortable reporting these things to where, you know, they're happy to do it because they feel that it's going to make their world better, too, if they can report something, and their integrity is restored to a department by doing that. >> supervisor melgar: mr. --
>> supervisor ronen: mr. o'riordan, if i could just chime in, because we have a long way to know. in 2018, there were three whistleblower complaints, and in 2019-2020, there were 14, so we're going in the right direction. i will say that, based on the size of department, it's only the sheriff's department and the building inspection department that have a high ratio of whistleblower complaints in ratio to their size in the entire city, so i think whatever you started doing is working, and we need to continue to do that even more. my question, though, related to yours, supervisor preston, is we don't know what happened to
those 22 complaints over the last three years, and there's so little information that the public and even the supervisors get in terms of what the results are in terms of those investigations, and that is definitely -- you know, this report coming out from the controller's office later this week is something -- we have a lot of follow-up from this hearing, and one of those follow-ups is about the results of whistle blowing complaints in the city and what gets released publicly, and there's more that should be released, in my opinion, and that definitely happens on the federal level. [inaudible] before this hearing. curious about the same thing. >> supervisor preston: thanks, supervisor ronen, and the whistleblower reports, we have heard some of those in g.a.o. and discussed ways to try to
connect the dots in those complaints. i did want to ask specifically about whistleblower complaints regarding specifically the -- mr. curran and his conduct here. are you aware, were there whistleblower complaints about mr. curran and the subject matter of this hearing? >> i'm not aware, supervisor preston, but i can definitely seek out that information and get back to you on that. >> supervisor preston: thank you. and i don't know if the city attorney, mr. keeffe, if you know? >> i think the rules around the whistleblower confidentiality allow me to disclose that publicly, but the rules are on disclosure on that, so i'm sorry, but i can't answer. >> supervisor preston: okay. well i, think it would be good information for us to get or if it can't be disclosed, to
discuss that. to discuss something like this topic and to not know -- again, i'm not talking about the identity of a whistleblower, but that -- there's a difference between that and whether someone was the subject of whistleblower complaints or not and looking historically at that. and it may be nothing. there may have been no whistleblower complaints, or nothing may have come of it. so whether it's a key fact on this, whether it's available publicly, hopefully, you can get an answer for us on this. >> absolutely, supervisor preston. thank you. >> supervisor ronen: supervisor peskin?
>> supervisor peskin: yeah. mr. o'riordan, were you around when supervisor g was put on the ballot and passed? >> supervisor peskin, i'm a youngster. no, i was not. >> supervisor peskin: mr. teague, you're a youngster, so i know you weren't. is the perception or reality of d.b.i. that it was less corrupt when it was under a different part of the governmental system? i mean, 'cause if you -- i was just looking at prop g of 1994 that was supported by an interesting array of folks and in essence took it away from the city administrator when it
was at [inaudible] and created the zoning inspection commission with the power to appoint the support and allowed the commission to reverse certain decisions and what have you. i was wondering -- maybe we have to call rudy nothenberger. but that brings up one last question. mr. o'riordan, we do believe that you are trying to change that culture, and we want to help make that come true, and maybe i can leave office in 20 -- however many years and you could have made a few steps in the right direction. i think it's very difficult for you to do that with the now i don't know how long it's been with the title of interim.
how does your -- and i'm did not -- and i'm not -- i don't want to interfere with the authority of the city. but who is it, the mayor or who makes you or somebody the permanent director? how does that work, mr. o'riordan? >> i believe the building inspection commission has that discretion, supervisor peskin? >> supervisor peskin: well, mr. mccarthy, if you're listening, i hope you create some stability at the top of this department. thank you, madam chair, for letting me get one last statement in. >> supervisor ronen: and thank you, madam chair, you can take
over the rest of the hearing. >> supervisor melgar: i have to be excused because i have a meeting that i was going to go to in my district. i was going to ask supervisor preston to make the motion. >> supervisor preston: motion to excuse chair melgar for the remainder of the hearing. madam clerk, please call the roll. >> clerk: on the motion to excuse chair melgar for the remainder of the meeting starting at 5:16 p.m. -- [roll call] >> clerk: we have two ayes. >> supervisor ronen: thank you so much, chair melgar, for holding this hearing? should we now turn this over to
public comment? i'll turn it over to you, mr. vice chair. >> supervisor preston: yes, i think we'll open it up for public comment. >> clerk: thank you, mr. chair. operations is checking to see if there are any callers in the queue. it looks like we have nine listeners and five in queue. could you please unmute the first caller. >> my name is george [inaudible] with san francisco land use coalition. there is no satisfactory oversight at the d.b.i., only a for sale sign on the front lawn. i think people should remember supervisor peskin when he tried to create prop m, which gave independent oversight over oewd and mohcd. i strongly recommend the city
retain a forensic structural engineering firm to perform a comprehensive independent review of the project at 2867 san bruno avenue. d.b.i.s top directors have historically been involved in scandals and could not be trusted to police their own agency. internal d.b.i. oversight is inadequate. 2867 san bruno's 19 illegal units is just another example of d.b.i. corruption and oversight failure. to correct these programs, d.b.i. has said they're going to improve staff training, put inspection details and notes on-line and the approval of a new senior inspector to
supervise. i do not believe this will work. the only thing that will work is an independent forensic instructal engineer -- structural engineers should oversee audits done by d.b.i. thank you very much. >> clerk: thank you. next speaker? >> my name is jerry dratler. [inaudible] the district inspector had to know.
former mayor bruce [inaudible] the abatement permit at 2525 17 avenue. how could this happen? also, why has the city failed to report former structural engineer rodrigo santos to the california licensing structural engineering board in the last ten years? the contractor is responsible for making sure the project is per the approved plans. did that architect call out the unapproved instructions? if not, they should be called
on the carpet, and lastly, why would the planning department recommend approval of a permit before the city determines the building is code[inaudible] and code compliant? there were no violations over the last three years. thank you. >> clerk: thank you. next speaker. >> hey, thank you, guys, for allowing me to speak. i just want to say we talked a lot about how this happened, but you really need to go back to the commission hearings in 2013, january 17, 2013, and just listen to, like, five minutes of the project sponsors and developers in front of the planning commission, i mean, at their hearing, and the issue came up.
the vish came up about the potential for illegal units. this happened because the building was designed in a way to [inaudible] and was talked about at the planning commission, and the planning commission asked them about it, and the developers and the architects addressed the issue about the fire escapes, so they were 110% aware of the situation going into this, and it was clear at the planning commission that they were not supposed to do this, so please go back to that hearing, watch the video, january 17, 2013. it's only about 15 minutes or five minutes. they knew what they were doing. they knew what they were doing in the beginning, and the b.m.r. issue, i found about it in vis valley when i lived
there then, so it's been known. this happened in the plain daylight, and who knew what and when did they know it? thank you. >> clerk: thank you. we have nine listeners with three in queue. if you have not done so already, press star, three to lineup to speak. next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors. ozzie reaume with san francisco land use coalition. i'd like to point out the fact that every year, we're faced with some egregious act related to building and construction practices in our town. if it's not an il-lela addition, it's an -- illegal addition, it's an illegal demolition, and it's a culture of corruption.
these acts couldn't have happened if the culture of corruption was not endemic in other parts of city government. [inaudible] astonishing. the fact is that the city attorney's office routinely dismissing whistleblowers and the cases they bring to light. beating up on d.b.i. for their misuse is par for the course, but let's not forget about other arms of the city government, such as the city attorney's office, that has been awol on such shenanigans. here we are on another development that will soon appear on a planning commission agenda to get legalized as mr.
teague advised us earlier. once again, developer violates the permit, slap on the wrist, and asks for forgiveness. lastly, i'd like to draw your attention to the casualties of this illegal construction, and that is the -- >> clerk: thank you. next speaker? >> good afternoon. this is sue hester. i want to head off the next couple of projects that are coming your way. you should have a list that's available of who all the names are of all the developers and the agents are of these
projects, and that list should be available to the planning department and to the public because other projects are heading their way to the planning commission right now, and any project that has one of these agents needs to be scrutinized by planning department staff. secondarily, there's a real problem with l.l.c.s, limited liability corporations, and those should be flushed out immediately, and -- when the project is going through the planning department, so there has to be transparency of who is acting through a limited liability corporation. we had a lot of them historically in the academy of art situation which went on for a lot of years because they were the academy of art, but
they used the limited liability corporation as the address of the limited liability corporation. and i want to agree with what supervisor peskin raised at the beginning of the project, the [inaudible] project, the process. there's no link between [inaudible], which is used by the planning department, and the d.b.i. system. there should be transparency between the departments so the plans and the ruling and the approvals are available to planning department staff people, not just to the building department staff people. there's been a lot of -- >> clerk: thank you very much. next speaker, please. >> ah, yes. my name is michael nolte. i'm the director of the
alliance for a better district 6. our organization was formed with the idea that accountability at all levels of the government, and it seems like, you know, we weren't -- that there still needs to be a lot of accountability, and it's a shame that it has to come to -- still, things have to be worked out, and in this case, i believe it needs to be worked out in a closed session in the full board of supervisors, and, you know, maybe the public will not be able to hear what's being discussed, but hopefully some recommendations will be made. there also are other bodies of government that exist to oversee these kinds of egregious kinds of issues that are happening right now in city government, and i hope some of them are also tapped to review and make recommendations so that these corruptions will
stop happening in our government because, you know, we are the city and the county, and i think a lot of times people forget that we are the city and the county government, and the city could do one thing, but we also are a county, and we're accountable to the state being a county, and we have obligations to be fulfilled. thank you very much. >> clerk: thank you for your comments. mr. chair, that was the last speaker in queue. >> supervisor preston: thank you, madam clerk. seeing no more callers, public comment on this item is now closed. supervisor ronen or supervisor peskin, any additional comments or questions? >> supervisor ronen: i mean, first of all, i just want to thank everyone for taking a significant amount of time and having this really productive conversation. there is a lot of work to do,
and after seeing the attention and willingness and interest of this board of supervisors and d.b.i. and planning, i think that we can do the necessary work before us, but it's [inaudible] because what has been allowed to go on in this city and particularly in d.b.i. for a very long time is outrageous. it's, as supervisor peskin said, sickening, and the only way that it will change behavior in d.b.i. and all city departments is no small feat.
i am glad because it looks like this is something that we are taking on collectively in different departments of the city, and we're going to have to take head on, and think about what this can be, and not just limit ourselves to the way we used to do things or, you know, the, you know, the last letter of the law. we don't often have such power as we wish we had at the local level to get done what we'd like to get done for our city. we have the power, and if it's used right, we can make great change here that's lasting and that can be incredibly positive for the city. so i do want to thank everybody that participated in today's hearing. it was robust, it was long, and i want to thank my chief of staff, amy, who has been
focused incredibly on not only this hearing but two other pieces of legislation that we have pending related to the subject of this hearing. we're just getting started, and we're looking forward to working with you all to get this done. and especially, really want to give a special thanks to my colleagues. your questions and engagement in this hearing for something that -- for this particular project that did not happen in your district was extraordinary, and i just really appreciate you all for spending the time and energy that i think this hearing deserved. >> supervisor preston: supervisor peskin? >> supervisor peskin: thank you, supervisor preston, and thank you, colleagues, on the land use committee. so a few take-homes.
sounds like, supervisor ronen, i'll give you a shoutout -- we're not a quorum at this committee, so i can call you, that we might call for a closed session at the board relative to what mr. keeffe cannot divulge publicly, that we will hear from mr. keeffe as to policy suggestions around additional penalties for d.b.i. violators or building code violators or, for that matter, planning code violators. i am confident that d.b.i. has heard our admonition, that we're going to have a tone from the top, as our controller reported last september, you have to have a stable top, and they can get that by having a permanent head at the
department, and if necessary, our board of supervisors could urge that commission under our powers of the 1994 act to do such. and finally, the issue that is not related to san bruno or other similarly situations projects or corruption at d.b.i., but more pervasive pattern and practices of the city attorney's office which is what comes before this body for settlement, i would like to have that conversation on-line and offline. and i think this is actually an appropriate time to have that conversation because it's not aimed at any one city attorney because as we know, mr. herrera will be leaving imminently, so
i think this is a good time to have that. it's not aimed at a particular city attorney, and we can create the tone for the new city attorney, so that should be a fun project, and i look forward to working with you on that and any other colleagues that are interested. >> supervisor preston: thank you, supervisor peskin, and i want to thank you, supervisor ronen, for bringing this forward. this has been a long hearing, but i think this is a worthwhile discussion. one project in my district, there's a certain amount of -- for those of us on this board with 11 districts, if we all did this on every project that came up in our district, the board would never be able to conduct business, so i think we don't do this lightly when we bring something like this forward. i won't speak for the chair who's been excused for the
remainder of this hearing on her views, but i imagine since she scheduled it here, she'd be happy to have that. i just think that the policy issues that arise from this one fight and issues that have been brought out into the open are absolutely essential for us to discuss at the board, and i'm very glad you did that and are able to participate in that. i do want to say that i am -- i'm just, through this hearing -- we've been having this conversation in and out of city hall in this city for so long. it's just like you can break the law and people doing a cost benefit analysis and getting away with it. supervisor peskin, i think you'll recall a lot of this the city apartment skyline, and i
was a tenant attorney at that time, and they were going building to building, and tenant by tenant. this is a long-standing problem. i just want to say this is not one director or one person's issue, and i think we also need to be -- to be realistic that, like, only a tiny fraction of these cases come to light, and when they do, it's always very unsatisfying, and we need to be looking at systemic changes. it's why i think some of the structural good government-type changes that have been brought up here are so important. it's also why, and it's beyond the scope of this hearing, but
it's why i've been a champion of the tenant. we look at the city attorney's office, the d.a.s office, they have constraints on them. the city attorney is not at liberty to discuss their investigation on matters that are privileged. anyone knows, the district attorney, the best in the country, is only going to prosecute a tiny, tiny fraction of the most extreme cases that come forward because of the burdens of proof in a criminal case, and i think we need to be open to the discussion we've had both with voters in the past and at the board ornd whether -- around whether, you know, the discussions that we've had at the board, the district attorney, ethics commission, are those sufficient to rat out the corruption that continues to
plague the department, but thank you all for participating so candidly and openly in the hearing and for all your work, and i think, madam clerk, are there any further items before the committee? oh, i'm sorry, before i do that, supervisor ronen, what is your pleasure in terms of continuing the hearing to the call of the chair or filing the matter? >> supervisor ronen: i'm fine filing this hearing. this is -- the next hearing or
the next intervention that take place won't focus on this situation, so i think i'm fine with filing this hearing. >> supervisor preston: so moved. >> clerk: on the motion as stated by supervisor preston -- [roll call] >> supervisor peskin: i can never figure out if you're saying preston or peskin? >> clerk: we should enunciate more. >> supervisor preston: all right. the hearing is filed. thank you, supervisor peskin. madam clerk, is there any further business before the committee today? >> clerk: that concludes the business for today. >> supervisor preston: thank
>> my name is angela wilson and i'm an owner of the market i worked at a butcher for about 10 years and became a butcher you i was a restaurant cook started in sxos and went to uc; isn't that so and opened a cafe we have produce from small farms without small butcher shops hard for small farms to survive we have a
been a butcher shop since 1901 in the heights floor and the case are about from 1955 and it is only been a butcher shot not a lot of businesses if san francisco that have only been one thing. >> i'm all for vegetarians if you eat meat eat meat for quality and if we care of we're in a losing battle we need to support butcher shops eat less we sell the chickens with the head and feet open somebody has to make money when you pay $25 for a chicken i guarantee if you go to save way half of the chicken goes in the enlarge but we started affordable housing depends on it occurred to us
this is a male field people said good job even for a girl the interesting thing it is a women's field in most of world just here in united states it is that pay a man's job i'm an encountered woman and raise a son and teach i am who respect woman i consider all women's who work here to be impoverished and strong in san francisco labor is high our cost of good ideas we seal the best good ideas the profit margin that low but everything that is a laboring and that's a challenge in the town so many people chasing money and not i can guarantee everybody this is their passion. >> i'm the - i've been cooking mile whole life this is a really, really strong presence
of women heading up kitchens in the bay area it is really why i moved out here i think that we are really strong in the destroy and really off the pages kind of thing i feel like women befrp helps us to get back up i'm definitely the only female here i fell in love i love setting up and love knowing were any food comes from i do the lamb and that's how i got here today something special to have a female here a male dominated field so i think that it is very special to have women and
especially like it is going at it you know i'm a tiny girl but makes me feel good for sure. >> the sad thing the building is sold i'm renegotiating my lease the neighborhood wants us to be here with that said, this is a very difficult business it is a constant struggle to maintain freshness and deal with what we have to everyday it is a very high labor of business but something i'm proud of if you want to get a job at affordable housing done nasal you need a good attitude and the jobs on the bottom you take care of all the produce and the fish and computer ferry terminal and work your way up employing people with a passion for this
>> (clapping.) >> i've been working in restaurants forever as a blood alcohol small business you have a lot of requests for donations if someone calls you and say we want to documents for our school or nonprofit i've been in a position with my previous employment i had to say no all the time. >> my name is art the owner and chief at straw combinations of street food and festival food and carnival food i realize that people try to find this you don't want to wait 365 day if you make that brick-and-mortar
it is really about making you feel special and feel like a kid again everything we've done to celebrate that. >> so nonprofit monday is a program that straw runs to make sure that no matter is going on with our business giving back is treated just the is that you as paying any other bill in addition to the money we impose their cause to the greater bayview it is a great way for straw to sort of build communicated and to introduce people who might not normally get to be exposed to one nonprofit or another and i know that they do a different nonprofit every most
of the year. >> people are mroent surprised the restaurant it giving back i see some people from the nonprofit why been part of nonprofit monday sort of give back to the program as well answer. >> inform people that be regular aprons at straw they get imposed to 10 or 12 nonprofits. >> i love nonprofits great for a local restaurant to give back to community that's so wonderful i wish more restrictive places did that that is really cool. >> it is a 6 of nonprofit that is supporting adults with autism and down syndrome we i do not involved one the wonderful members reached out to straw and
saw a headline about, about their nonprofit mondays and she applied for a grant back in january of 2016 and we were notified late in the spring we would be the recipient of straw if you have any questions, we'll be happy to answer thems in the month of genuine we were able to organize with straw for the monday and at the end of the month we were the recipient of 10 percent of precedes on mondays the contribution from nonprofit monday from stray went into our post group if you have any questions, we'll be happy to answer theming fund with our arts coaching for chinese and classes and we have a really great vibrate arts program. >> we we say thank you to the customers like always but say 0 one more thing just so you know you've made a donation to x nonprofit which does why i think
that is a very special thing. >> it is good to know the owner takes responsibility to know your money is going to good cause also. >> it is really nice to have a restaurant that is very community focused they do it all month long for nonprofits not just one day all four mondays. >> we have a wall of thank you letters in the office it seems like you know we were able to gas up the 10 passenger minivan we were innovate expected to do. >> when those people working at the nonprofits their predictive and thank what straw is giving that in and of itself it making an impact with the nonprofit
through the consumers that are coming here is just as important it is important for the grill cheese kitchen the more restrictive i learn about what is going on in the community more restrictive people are doing this stuff with 4 thousand restaurant in san francisco we're doing an average of $6,000 a year in donations and multiply that by one thousand that's a
>> this is a huge catalyst for change. >> it will be over 530,000 gross square feet plus two levels of basement. >> now the departments are across so many locations it is hard for them to work together and collaborate and hard for the customers to figure out the different locations and hours of operation. >> one of the main drivers is a one stopper mitt center for -- permit center. >> special events. we are a one stop shop for those three things. >> this has many different uses throughout if years. >> in 1940s it was coca-cola and the flagship as part of the construction project we are retaining the clock tower. the permit center is little working closely with the digital
services team on how can we modernize and move away from the paper we use right now to move to a more digital world. >> the digital services team was created in 2017. it is 2.5 years. our job is to make it possible to get things done with the city online. >> one of the reasons permitting is so difficult in this city and county is really about the scale. we have 58 different department in the city and 18 of them involve permitting. >> we are expecting the residents to understand how the departments are structured to navigate through the permitting processes. it is difficult and we have heard that from many people we interviewed. our goal is you don't have to know the department. you are dealing with the city. >> now if you are trying to get construction or special events permit you might go to 13 locations to get the permit.
here we are taking 13 locations into one floor of one location which is a huge improvement for the customer and staff trying to work together to make it easy to comply with the rules. >> there are more than 300 permitting processes in the city. there is a huge to do list that we are possessing digital. the first project is allowing people to apply online for the a.d.u. it is an accessory dwelling unit, away for people to add extra living space to their home, to convert a garage or add something to the back of the house. it is a very complicated permit. you have to speak to different departments to get it approved. we are trying to consolidate to one easy to due process. some of the next ones are windows and roofing. those are high volume permits. they are simple to issue.
another one is restaurant permitting. while the overall volume is lower it is long and complicated business process. people struggle to open restaurants because the permitting process is hard to navigate. >> the city is going to roll out a digital curing system one that is being tested. >> when people arrive they canshay what they are here to. it helps them workout which cue they neat to be in. if they rant to run anker rapid she can do that. we say you are next in line make sure you are back ready for your appointment. >> we want it all-in-one location across the many departments involved. it is clear where customers go to play. >> on june 5, 2019 the ceremony was held to celebrate the placement of the last beam on top of the structures.
six months later construction is complete. >> we will be moving next summer. >> the flu building -- the new building will be building. it was designed with light in mind. employees will appreciate these amenities. >> solar panels on the roof, electric vehicle chargers in the basement levels, benefiting from gray watery use and secured bicycle parking for 300 bicycles. when you are on the higher floors of the building you might catch the tip of the golden gate bridge on a clear day and good view of soma. >> it is so exciting for the team. it is a fiscal manifestation what we are trying to do. it is allowing the different departments to come together to issue permits to the residents.
good afternoon and thank you all so much for joining us. i want to begin by thanking our attorney general rob bonta for coming here to the visitation valley community. it's really great to have you here in san francisco, but especially in this particular community and thank you for cohosting this round table discussion that was so important to talk about the challenges that exist around hate crimes in this city and in this state. especially as we have seen an uptick in violent hate crimes against so many of our communities in san francisco and the bay area and across the state and nation. in just a few short months on the job, he's already taken action on a number of initiatives related to criminal justice reform and racial justice which are issues that we all car