Dennis Richards
Commissioner Dennis Richards, who resigned from the Planning Commission on March 4. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

In a turnabout that surprised foes and supporters alike at City Hall, erstwhile Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards will not return today from his leave of absence and has instead submitted his letter of resignation to Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee. 

Richards in late December withdrew from the commission after fallout ensued regarding a building he and a partner bought and renovated on 22nd Street. The Department of Building Inspection in September revoked nine permits on the site, which Richards claimed was retaliation for his critiques of DBI as a Planning Commissioner; he has subsequently sued the city and DBI in federal court

Mission Local first reported this conflict in October. In November, we reported that Richards had bought out four tenants living in the 1899 Italianate mansion, and had failed to record this procedure in a timely fashion. This omission — which he characterized as a mixup and an oversight — rankled even his would-be progressive allies. He has, as a commissioner, chided developers for failing to record buyouts, and for gentrifying communities. Richards and partner Rachel Swann bought the 22nd Street property for $2.7 million in June 2018 and it is currently listed for nearly $8 million. These gaudy numbers also irritated progressive city supervisors and led to demands for the commissioner’s ouster.

Supervisor Dean Preston in December called for Richards’ resignation. Supervisors Matt Haney, Hillary Ronen and Aaron Peskin followed suit.

While Richards’ exit from the Planning Commission is not, in the long run, a surprise, earlier this week all indications pointed toward Richards making a return tonight. And yet, on Wednesday, he submitted his resignation letter to Yee. 

Calls to Richards and Yee have not yet been returned. This is a developing story and will be updated as possible.

Resignation Letter to Yee Letter by Joe Eskenazi on Scribd

Follow Us

Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

Join the Conversation


  1. I find it sad and infuriating that the “progressive” supes chose to pile on to Richards while turning a blind eye to the epic (and well known) corruption at DBI. That whole place is rotten, as dulocumented int the Nuru case and their retaliation against Richards. Where are the hearings on reforming DBI, or calls to step down for the DBI chief and his lackeys? I don’t have any love for Richards, but I hope he wins his federal suit and kicks open the festering mess at DBI. Discovery from that suit should be enlightening.

    1. Whataboutism much?

      This guy worked at the planning commission:


    2. John,

      There’s a novel there in Walter Wong alone.

      He stored Jimmy’s little house for a couple of decades.

      Likewise, Feinstein’s cop kobans.

      Lots more and more.

      Let the investigation begin.

      Knock on my door all you want.

      I don’t remember nuttin’.

      Go Giants!


  2. “Further, I have been taking a greater role in advocating for changes to statewide
    housing policies and wish to continue focus in this area….Proudly,
    Dennis Richards ”

    Translation: I will continue to conspire with NIMBY homeowners up and down the peninsula (Like the notorious “Livable California” creeps in Marin) in order to attempt to roll back (or otherwise stymie) State level pro-housing reforms.

    Furthermore, who in the heck signs their letters with “Proudly”?

    And not even an oblique acknowledgment (or expression of regret) regarding how he has betrayed the public trust by his hypocritical actions– what a phenomenal jerk!

  3. To President Yee,

    Let me recommend two Progressive ladies to fill the spot.

    Christine Olague who was a brilliant commissioner with that body for years.


    Deborah Walker who was the same on the DBI commission.

    Go Giants!


    1. I think we need some new blood — from the younger generation; although I agree with you that a woman makes sense.

      How about pro-housing advocates Sonja Trauss or Laura Foote-Clark?

      1. Is it a good look for commissioners to insult members of the public for disagreeing with them?

      2. Karl,

        With you on Trauss.


        Quick witted.


        Open marriage.

        Puts herself all out there honestly.

        Best chat room dialogue exchanger of last decade.

        Go Giants!


    1. Kevin — 

      You’re right. Richards’ property is on 22nd; the property he lambasted DBI over is on 18th. I have fixed this. Thanks.


      1. Joe,

        You gonna endorse in the Dems’ contest or did I miss it?

        This is getting more and more of a ‘Don Quixote’ look.

        You see it?

        Bernie lumbering toward the fortress slowly followed my tens
        of millions.

        Go Giants!


  4. The DBI building inspector named in the federal suit – William Walsh, is well known for flashing his city badge for criminal purposes.
    Another DBI building inspector, after being charged with assault of a woman at a local bar, returned to the bar and flashed his badge, ordering the security camera videos be turned over to…him!
    He’s still a building inspector!
    And (the very few) upstanding inspectors, not part of the corruption run by Sweeney and management, are retaliated against, and/or transferred to undesirable duties.
    Many of us DBI customers are watching this unfold, in hopes that the department is ripped to shreds.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.