An inspector at the Department of Building Inspection says that Paul Pelosi, Jr. asked him to “take care of” violations at “The Pit,” a squalid Mission District residential hotel at 1312 Utah St.
This is the same building at which federal charging documents recount the unnamed “Client-9” participating in an alleged bribery scheme in 2017 with indicted permit expediter Rodrigo Santos and former senior inspector Bernie Curran to ameliorate violations in which mandated fixes were never made.
“Client-9” is described in federal documents as “an individual working on behalf of the owners of the property.” This was how Pelosi represented himself to DBI employees in 2018 while attempting to mitigate the so-called Pit’s myriad issues. And, a building inspector now tells Mission Local, it’s how Pelosi represented himself when attempting to personally enlist him to do away with persistent violations on the property.
Federal sources declined to comment on whether Pelosi is indeed Client-9. What is clear, however, is that Pelosi repeatedly interacted with DBI employees over the violations at this building, where he presented himself as the point person between the owners and the city.
“What he was looking for was how to get rid of Notices of Violation — or get them taken care of,” recalls the building inspector of his series of 2018 meetings with Pelosi. “He was never overt with me on how to take care of this.”
Pelosi, 52, has not returned multiple messages left both this week and last week. He is the only son of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Paul Pelosi, Sr. He has a background in real estate, banking and cannabis entrepreneurship; his LinkedIn page lists his present position as a strategic advisor to an “eco mining and recycling” outfit in Quebec, Canada.
The building inspector was puzzled that Pelosi never actually invited him to the property at 1312 Utah St. to offer first-hand advice.
“I was like, ‘Hey, if he wants to take me there, I could say, “fix this, do this”‘ — that’s what I do. But he would never go to the property,” said the inspector, who provided contemporaneous text messages he exchanged with Pelosi. “The things I was telling him were pretty straightforward. But he would never go there. Evidently he tried to do something else.”
Following the inspector’s advice would involve actually fixing the problems. The solution “Client-9” hit upon — purportedly bribing Curran at Santos’ urging — would seem to be faster and cheaper than actually spending money to remedy violations. The violation Curran signed off on was, in fact, never fixed.
Mission Local last week was able to pinpoint the oblique location listed in Santos and Curran’s August, 2021, federal charging document and November, 2021, indictment — “on the 1300 block of Utah Street” — as the troubled 17-unit single-room occupancy hotel at 1312 Utah.
In 2018, we wrote about this property, and how the involvement of Paul Pelosi, Jr. baffled observers at the Department of Building Inspection.
In the August, 2021, charging document, a text chain between “Client-9” and Santos is reprinted. In the 2017 text messages, Santos assures “Client-9” that Curran will abate the violation at the building. He then asks “Client-9” to make out a $1,000 check to Curran’s preferred youth sports nonprofit. “With pleasure,” responds “Client-9.”
“Please drop off the Bernie check this morning,” Santos subsequently prods. According to the charging documents, “Client-9” later sent a photograph of the check, for $1,500, with the message “made the donation and it is being sent today.”
Use the interactive to see how Curran and Santos figure into the corruption scandal
The Department of Building Inspection in 2018 referred 1312 Utah to the City Attorney for potential litigation after a raft of complaints about unpermitted construction and deteriorating conditions. The building’s former manager told Mission Local in 2018 that the few remaining residents of the structure were being subjected to maddening conditions by the owners, who hoped the tenants would leave so that higher-paying renters could move in.
The City Attorney never filed a suit, however, as the specific violations were belatedly cured. The building’s former owner, Karena Feng, did sue; in 2019, she alleged in a federal case that Paul Pelosi, Jr. “targeted” her as an “easy mark” and participated with others in a scheme to swindle her out of her property.
Feng sought $96 million. Her case was dismissed in 2020.