Tenants advocacy groups file a lawsuit against the Bureau of Building Inspection.
One or more scans of original printed documents are included here. To read the text of these documents, please activate the Read the Text tab.
Tenants to File Against Agency for Code Lapses
Assailing the city of San Francisco for failing to enforce its own laws, a group of tenant advocacy organizations are expected to file a lawsuit today accusing the Bureau of Building Inspection of negligence in its pursuit of landlords that violate the building code.
The suit, St. Peters Housing Committee v. Larry Lichtfield, filed in Superior Court, seeks a court order requiring the bureau to hold hearings on complaints of violations within 73 days, the timeline-set by city ordinance.
Dozens of tenants, tenant rights advocates, and homeless people testified two weeks ago before the Board of Supervisors’ Government Efficiency and Labor Committee that the bureau allowed landlords found in violation of the building code to put off repairs for months, sometimes years.
They also complained that the bureau harassed compliant homeowners for trivial matters while letting slumlords get away without repairing broken plumbing, cracked walls, or restoring heat and eliminating rats and roaches. One homeless man said he would rather live on the street than spend one more night in his rodent-infested hotel room.
“When a city agency ignores city law, where does the public go?” said Randall M. Shaw, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and the lead attorney representing the petitioners. “We have not made any progress, and the bureau itself has created the vehicle for delay.”
Bureau of Building Inspection Superintendent Larry Lichtfield was not available for comment, and Deputy City Attorney Judith Boyajian declined to comment until she had reviewed the suit.
The lawsuit is part of a larger strategy on the part of tenant organizations to reorganize the Bureau of Building Inspection. Shaw said his organization and others are pushing to have the bureau extracted from the Department of Public Works and be appointed an oversight in commission. Currently, the bureau is under the authority of the Chief Administrative Officer.