Update: The tenants made their case Thursday morning at the director’s hearing. The owners were given 30 days to solve the garbage problems.
It has been three years since the Mission Dolores apartment building at 1855 15th St. had a functioning garbage chute — an essential senior housing feature. Tenants are hoping Thursday’s director’s hearing at the Department of Building Inspection will push BRIDGE Housing to repair this and other failings that have created sanitary issues at the 10-story building.
The Mission Education and Development Agency and BRIDGE own the building, born as a public housing space in the late 1960s. BRIDGE directly manages the day-to-day operations of the building.
“There have been dirty and messy areas since the building was being renovated,” said Walker Dukes, a longtime resident at the building for seniors and residents with disabilities. Photos from the corridors reveal overflowing trash bins under the stairways, only a few feet away from the doors of tenants, and waste liquids sticking to the floor and being tracked into the apartments.
Consulted about the complaints, MEDA deferred to BRIDGE, which attributed the delays to the age of the building and difficulties in locating the right replacement parts for the chute. “When rehabilitating older, distressed buildings, it can be difficult for experts to identify every issue that may be present with existing conditions. In these cases, it is not uncommon that a building inspector may identify some issues later after the rehab work is complete,” explained Lyn Hikida, BRIDGE’s vice president of communications.
Nevertheless, the tenants remain unhappy. After dissatisfaction following a change in the building manager, a group of tenants went straight to the Department of Building Inspection in October 2018. The city indeed found multiple sanitary concerns, including the overwhelmed garbage bins, and “bird droppings and filth” in common areas. Additionally, a lack of fire sprinklers was cited, even after a blaze in late 2017. Three inspections later, the building is still deemed “in violation.”
“The management says the room for the trash compactor is not yet up to code. But it shouldn’t take so long,” said another tenant, who asked that his name not be published.
Just as big of a problem, the tenant said, was that the building had only one janitor in charge of cleaning 10 floors (with communal restrooms on each one), the sidewalks, the benches and the breezeways.
The tenants say they have already tolerated years of transition from public housing to non-profit ownership (BRIDGE and MEDA), a process that displaced them temporarily as the building underwent multiple renovations.
Also in charge of the pending 490 South Van Ness and 1950 Mission projects, as well as the extant 3850 18th St. building, BRIDGE has not received major grievances from other tenants in the district.
Thursday’s audience, however, is waiting for answers. According to the Department of Building Inspection, the ownership could be given more time, or even a fine — but there is no risk of shutting down the site.