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.