Hotelier Adam Sparks is sentenced to jail for violating the city’s Residential Hotel Unit Demolition and Conversion Ordinance.
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Hotelier Ordered Jailed Wednesday
By Dolores Ziegler
Daily Journal Staff Reporter
Barring a last-minute reprieve, hotelier Adam Sparks must be at the San Francisco jail Wednesday to begin serving six days behind bars for breaking the city’s residential hotel conversion law.
Sparks was ordered to jail Monday by Superior Court Judge Richard Figone for renting more than 15 rooms of his 84-rooms Pacific Bay Inn to tourists. Doing so violates a 1988 preliminary injunction and the San Francisco’s Residential Hotel Unit Demolition and Conversion Ordinance.
Figone also fined Sparks $3,000. “I feel strongly the ordinance is unconstitutional,” said Sparks, who plans to ask the U.S. District Court to stay Figone’s order.
“If the stay is not forthcoming,” he said, “I am prepared to serve my time.” The 1st District Court of Appeal in January 1991 rejected Sparks’ constitutional challenge of San Francisco’s conversion law, which is aimed at preserving the city’s housing stock by limiting the number of hotel rooms that can be rented to tourists. The Supreme Court declined to review the case.
The residential hotel conversion law was upheld in 1990 by the 1st District in a case involving the Abigail Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.
Sparks first was sued over his rental practices at his Jones Street hotel by the city and county of San Francisco, CCSF v. Bay Pacific Inn, 885533. The city won a preliminary injunction in April 1988 barring Sparks from renting too many rooms to tourists. In November 1989, Superior Court Judge Claude Perasso held Sparks in contempt for 32 violations of the court order and sentenced him to 178 days in jail and $89,000.
In April, the 1st District Court of Appeal affirmed six of the contempt counts. On Monday, Deputy City Attorneys Michelle Goldberg and Shaun Clarke asked the court to hold Sparks to the penalties imposed for these six violations.
The actual number of violations is more, said Randy Shaw, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which has joined in the city’s suit against Sparks. “This guy has completely ignored the preliminary injunction,”said Shaw. “He violates the law everyday.”
Based on Sparks’ replies to interrogatories, Shaw estimates there were 900 violations in October 1990 alone. Sparks said figures “don’t sound far off,” but he declined to comment on whether he continued to rent more than his allotment of rooms to tourists.
A trial to determine whether to issue a permanent injunction is set for August.