The owners of the six buildings at 2861-2899 San Bruno Ave., rife with permit and safety violationns — including adding 19 extra units where 10 were permitted — have reached a $1.2 million settlement with the city and agreed to bring the mixed-use space into compliance.
By signing the settlement in late June, “owners agree to make all reasonable efforts to bring the properties to code compliance,” the document reads. This includes obtaining building and planning permits for existing violations, years after the fact, and then passing the required inspections.
Located on the Portola neighborhood’s commercial corridor along the west side of Hwy. 101, the site received its original final inspection in January, 2017, approved by Department of Building Inspection senior inspector Bernie Curran.
Curran was put on leave in June after he was accused of accepting a loan from a major developer whose projects he signed off on.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera is leading the charge on a probe into the city’s widespread corruption, which has resulted in Curran’s recent resignation as well as that of other public figures within the Department of Building Inspection and beyond.
In addition to nearly tripling the number of units in the first five buildings, and “in-progress creation of illegal units” in the sixth building, the project failed to provide the required below market rate units, and even left out a mandatory second fire exit for tenants. The owners also deviated from the approved plans on the “façade, design features, parking, stairs, restrooms, driveways, and landscaping,” the settlement said.
“The owners of these properties tried to cheat their way to more profit. That’s always a bad idea,” said Herrera in a statement. “They got caught. Now they must bring these buildings into compliance with the law — including fire safety and affordable housing requirements – and pay an appropriately steep price for their misconduct. We’re going to ensure that the playing field is level, and that breaking the law doesn’t pay.”
Currently, a “temporary” fire escape, which has been in place for more than two years, is available for residents in case of emergency. While the building owners had already been served a notice of violation from the Planning Department in early 2020 regarding some violations, like the addition of extra kitchens and unpermitted extra units, the safety violations were apparently a more recent revelation.
It’s unclear at this point whether the building owners will be awarded all the permits they need to keep the current tenants housed where they are, or if displacement is imminent.
Attorney Ryan Patterson, who represents tenants Yin Kwan Tam, Tong Yin Kai and Dufin Tsang, and Lee Yun Ling and Cindy Zhou told the Chronicle that the applications have been filed.
Per the settlement, which was signed in late June, new tenants are not allowed until all violations are resolved to the satisfaction of the DBI, the fire department, and the planning department.