Homes in SF, some historic, illegally demolished by developers

By J.K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

In early December, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection received a permit application to demolish a home at 49 Hopkins St., a 1935 modernist residence just east of Twin Peaks that was designed by famed architect Richard Neutra.
But there was a problem with the application: The house had been torn down two months earlier. All that remained of the white, two-story redwood-and-concrete-block home was a garage door and frame. The rest of the house, one of five structures the pioneering modernist designed in San Francisco, had been carried off in dump trucks…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Russian Hill, Chinatown and North Beach, said he’s drafting legislation that would impose penalties substantial enough to discourage illegal knockdowns.

“The signal that is sent time and again is that you can demolish even some of the most important historic, iconic buildings in the city with impunity,” Peskin said. “It really speaks to an attitude and a culture in our planning and building departments that nothing is sacred.”…

“It’s serial lying and serial fraud over and over again, and they get away with it,” said Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards.

Planning Department Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez said imposing a five-year stop-work order penalizes neighbors who have to live with the detritus of the aborted construction project. It also temporarily eliminates a housing unit. But he agreed that the current penalties are not much of a deterrent.

“We don’t have anything in the planning code that addresses those violations,” he said….(more)

What really makes America great or unique? We used to have trust in a system of law that relied on well-intentioned citizens electing officials to write laws that the public respected and agreed to abide by.

We no longer have trust in government and we no longer have a honest citizenry. Now we are faced by the daunting option of anarchy or an over-bearing government that over regulates us. There is no over-seeing eye in the sky that watches out for our interest. The enforcement system relies on public complaints to investigate illegal activities.

If you see something that looks “wrong” you must file a complaint with the zoning administrator and that report may eventually get the attention it deserves. As Planning Department Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez points out, the options for reprisal are limited.

Can we pass stricter laws with higher penalties that may stop these illegal actions? Perhaps, but, that will not happen overnight. Perhaps we need to extend the penalties to the contractors and others who are involved in the demolition, or encourage neighbors to do a lot more checking as they see construction sites go up next door. Look up those permit numbers to see what is included in the approved plans, and call anything suspicious to the attention of your supervisor.

The enforcement system should be a large part of any conversation with candidates for mayor and supervisor as we move into this highly charged campaign. Ask them for solutions and support the ones with the best answers for solving the problems you want dealt with.

RELATED:
For a really interesting presentation on a CEQA Exemption argument at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on January 9, 2018. Will try to get the link after the live show, but, this is the 3 PM special hearing. The property under appeal is at 2417 Green Street. Other than historic resource protection issue and this one has it all. – possible flooding or soil issues, a famous Holloywood filmmaker, contaminated soil, poor soil that is protected under the soil-protection act protection act and other issues raised by a geotechnical engineer; the historical resource is built on a brick foundation in poor soil and the plan is to anchor their foundation to the brick foundation on the poor soil. I don’t see how they can deny this appeal.

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