Building Inspection Commission - April 15, 2015 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
April 15, 2015 - 10:00am
City Hall, Room 416
San Francisco, CA 94102

PDF icon BIC Minutes 04-15-15.pdf


  Department of Building Inspection (DBI)

  Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
  City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416
  Aired Live on SFGTV Channel 78
  ADOPTED October 21, 2015
The regular meeting of the Building Inspection Commission was called to order at 11:31 a.m. by President McCarthy.

1. Call to Order and Roll Call – Roll call was taken and a quorum was certified.

        Angus McCarthy, President        Warren Mar, Vice-President
        James McCray, Jr., Commissioner    Kevin Clinch, Commissioner, Left at 1:00 p.m.
        Debra Walker, Commissioner    Myrna Melgar, Commissioner, Left at 1:10 p.m.
        Frank Lee, Commissioner, Excused
        Sonya Harris, Secretary
        Tom Hui, Director
        Edward Sweeney, Deputy Director, Permit Services
        Dan Lowrey, Deputy Director, Inspection Services
        Taras Madison, Chief Financial Officer
        William Strawn, Legislative and Public Affairs Manager
        Lily Madjus, Communications Director
        John Malamut, Deputy City Attorney

2. President’s Announcements. 

President McCarthy made the following announcements:

* Warm Congratulations to our fellow Commissioner, Frank Lee, who was sworn in again last week for another two-year term on the Building Inspection Commission by Mayor Lee – especially as I believe this makes Commissioner Lee one of our most senior members.

* DBI is participating once again in the annual Project Pull High School internship program.  This is an eight-week program where high school students are mentored by DBI staff from June 15-August 7th.  In the past two years, DBI has typically had 8-10 Project Pull Interns and these students have provided invaluable assistance to staff.  We are awaiting Staff mentoring applications from all DBI divisions in the next few weeks to confirm the interns we will be having in mid-June at DBI – and per Director Hui, we hope to increase the number of interns working at DBI this summer.

* A big thank you to Director Hui, Deputy Director Sweeney, Legislative & Public Affairs Officer Bill Strawn, Jeff Lai, James Zahn, Mohsin Shaikh, and Danny Lau of Plan Review Services who received a letter from a customer for their help in resolving a problem at 401 Duboce Street.

* Thank you to Evelyn Karcs for her knowledge and professionalism in assisting a homeowner with his project.

* Just a reminder that we’ll be once again observing May as Building Safety Month, with DBI and San Francisco participating in this national reminder about why and how building codes help ensure public safety through well-built buildings. As part of Building Safety Month, DBI will be running some ads on MUNI, and hosting Brown-Bag workshops on essential building safety elements –with four different workshop topics discussed each week in May. Check the DBI web site, at the end of April for a link to reserve a seat at these educational events.

* Director Hui has a new article that will be published in the May issue of SF Apartment magazine, at the request of its editor, with a focus on what building, inspection services and code enforcement do to ensure life-safety building elements, and especially fire safety elements, are monitored and maintained.  The article is timely with the recent spate of multiple-alarm fires in the Mission and Tenderloin neighborhoods, and DBI welcomes this opportunity to communicate again with the owners of apartment buildings key action items that are owners’ responsibilities for resident safety.

* May also means it is again time for the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival, which will be held on Saturday, May 2nd, on Valencia Street between 21st and 22nd Streets, and where DBI will have a booth with Spanish-speaking staff answering questions and handing out educational materials to help our customers better understand what is involved in obtaining permits and inspections.  If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by the DBI booth and meet staff and customers.

* Finally, DBI’s Employee Recognition Committee met recently and reviewed nominations for our Quarter One Employee of the Quarter Award.  I am pleased to announce that the Records Management Staff has been selected for our first “Team” Award for providing efficient, effective and speedy delivery of outstanding public services to DBI customers.  

3. General Public Comment:  The BIC will take public comment on matters within the Commission’s jurisdiction that are not part of this agenda.

Ms. Shirley Moore of the Clean Air Health Alliance and the Candlestick Point Neighborhood Committee thanked President McCarthy and said that since the last time they attended the Commission regarding the Candlestick demolition project, he convened a meeting with the Bay Area Air Quality Management, the S.F. Health Department, and the community to sit down and have a discussion about the issues that were brought before the Commission.  Ms. Moore also thanked President McCarthy for arranging the meeting that was facilitated by Mr. Daniel Lowrey of the Department of Building Inspection.  There were three subsequent meetings and talks regarding the issues at the Candlestick stadium.  They managed to come to some agreement and spoke with a collaborative voice and addressed issues that concerned the community, mainly the dust and the dust plan.  Many things were promised in the meeting, but a few have been delivered.  Due to time issues, she has a conflict with another meeting so Dr. Tompkins will elaborate on the meeting and its content.  Again they found their collaborative voice and are speaking with the developer, OCII, and BAAQM and DPH in a positive manner and they are being heard and their issues are being addressed, so Ms. Moore hopes going forward they would continue to hear each other and be productive.

Ms. Yolanda Louis spoke on behalf of the Black Human Rights Council & Coalition of San Francisco.  Ms. Louis said that 2015 marks the first year of the decade for people of African American descent that was declared by the United Nations.  She read the following statement by Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary General, “We must remember that people of African descent are affected by racism, and too often they face denial of human rights and basic access to quality health services and education.”  Ms. Louis said she read this because San Francisco is a city that is notorious for having elected leaders and appointees that make decisions that favor developers and people in high places, ignoring the human rights and violations taking place against Black people.  – A city where the rights of dogs are given greater value than the Black citizens also known as three-fifths human.  They have a right to clean air, clean water, and to live in an environment free from toxins.  The Dred Scott case reminded her when the Chief Justice issued his remarks stating that a black individual had no rights and was an alien, not a citizen, that a Black man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect.  There was never a case that overturned that statement, but they said the 13th amendment was a remedy but it says that slavery and involuntary servitude have been eliminated for all that have not been convicted of crimes, yet San Francisco has a crime rate of incarcerating Black people at a rate higher than South African Apartheid.  S.F. is known for its blatant racism against Black people.  Human rights should trump money and hidden agendas, and people should stop abusing and overlooking those they consider less than human. – They have been declassified so she asks that the Commission look at the human side as human beings and not less than dogs.

4. Employee of the Quarter Winner for Quarter One – 2015.

Secretary Harris stated that the Employee of the Quarter Winner for Quarter One – 2015 was the Records Management Division!  Although Supervisor Patty Herrera who nominated her staff for the team award was not present, Tuti Suardana and Darren Wu were present to accept the first team award on behalf of the 16 RMD staff as DBI’s Employee of the Quarter One, 2015.  Additional staff in attendance were Alex, Benjie, May, and Rochelle.    

Following are the names of all of the Records Management Division staff:  Alex Catigan, Benjie Guinto, Carmella Villasica, Christina Wang, Darren Wu, Dwayne Farrell, Garland Simpson, Heidi Lee, May Yu, Nancy Gutierrez, Noreen Murphy, Patty Herrera, Paul Bautista, Rochelle Garrett, Saphonia Collins, and Tuti Suardana.

President McCarthy said on behalf of the committee and the Commission that he and Vice-President Mar found it difficult to make the rare decision of giving the award to an entire department, but the Records Management Division is a group that is unrecognized for the work they do in the background.  The Division has made great strides in helping make the customers much happier by getting their records in a timely manner. 

The Commission thanked all of the Records Management staff for providing the outstanding customer service they render every day, and said they appreciated their dedication and professionalism.  Vice-President Mar presented the Certificate of Appreciation to the RMD staff, and photos were taken.


Appeal by Satish K. Gupta - Represented by Zacks & Freedman, P.C. regarding property
located at 1142A Guerrero Street, and Director Tom Hui’s decision to revoke a Certificate of Final Completion and Occupancy (“CFCO”).

a. Report, discussion and possible action regarding the Building Inspection Commission’s jurisdiction pursuant to Section D3. 750-4 of the City Charter and Administrative Code Section 77.3(b) over this appeal.
b. Presentation by parties including witnesses.
c. Deliberation and possible decision by the Building Inspection Commission.

Mr. Patrick O’Riordan, Chief Building Inspector, gave a staff report regarding 1142A Guerrero Street and presented the following information:

Staff Report presented at the February 18, 2015 BIC Meeting:
* PA #201406118138 issued over the counter on June 11, 2014 with no drawings and no Planning review.
* Description:  For administrative issuance of CFC to Document use of rear building as single family dwelling.
* CFC issued June 18, 2014.
* Complaint #201493251 filed September 5, 2014 contending CFC issued based on erroneous information stating that a storage shed was illegally converted to SFD.  NOV issued September 18, 2014.
* The owner’s representative was given several weeks to search DBI archives for a permit that may have been issued to document a conversion of the rear building.
* A letter was issued by DBI on December 19, 2014 revoking the erroneously issued CFC and to suspend the permit.
* PA’s 200212042796 and 201302258249 signed off in 2002 and 2003 respectively for water damage repair and for an address correction regarding this rear building.  The existing legal use of this rear building was misrepresented as a single family dwelling on both of these permits.
* An appeal is filed with the Board of Appeals and was scheduled for hearing on the evening of February 18, 2015.  The appeal was rescheduled to the March 25, 2015 calendar because of this appeal to the BIC.
* City Planning has indicated that it would approve the legalization of this dwelling unit at the rear building under the Mayor’s Directive 13-01 (Housing Production and Preservation of Housing Stock) with the filing of the necessary permit application.  Zoning RH-3 three family dwelling.
* Code Enforcement activity has been suspended on this property pending the outcome of these appeals.
* PA #201406118138 was issued and its associated CFC was also issued in error for the following reasons:
a) The garden shed was never converted to a legal dwelling unit with the required building permit.
b) Drawings should have accompanied such an application for a building permit.
c) The Planning Department should have reviewed and approved this application.
* An erroneous 3-R Report issued on April 5, 2014 shows the authorized use of the rear building as a one family dwelling.  The report has expired (validity 1 year) and the present authorized use has been corrected to show unknown.
* The current unknown label is due to the following:
a) No new construction permit.
b) No permit to convert from shed to single family dwelling.
c) Not enough permit history to justify a single family dwelling.
* Updates presented at the April 15, 2015 BIC Meeting:
a) Another search of DBI records was performed and failed to document any evidence of a permit authorizing the use of the rear building as residential.
b) Two separate site visits were made and it was determined that the rear building was converted in a code compliant manner for residential use.
c) The Assessor’s Office records show a two family residence for the property.
d) The rear building has a separate permitted electrical service.
e) There is no natural gas provided to the rear structure which has an electrical water heater and it has electrical baseboard heat.
f)    A single water service currently supplies all three units on the property.
g) The address for the rear building was assigned in 2004.
* Conclusion:
The court documents provided in the submittal package clearly document a statement by the previous owner indicating that he converted an existing garden shed to a dwelling unit in the early 1980s.  The conversion of this shed to a dwelling unit was apparently performed without the benefit of a building permit.
It is very unfortunate that the rear building which is/was being used as a dwelling unit now requires a further permit application for its legalization as a result of conversion work done without the necessary permits and approvals.  The Department recognizes this problem and will facilitate as reasonable a solution as possible.

Commissioner Walker asked if the Assessor’s Office showed two units in front of the building?  Mr. O’Riordan showed pictures of the building on the overhead projector which had images of the inside and outside.  She also asked if the electrical work was signed off and the answer was yes.  

Mr. O’Riordan also showed a picture of the Sanborn map and outline of the front of the building, and nothing in the back.  Vice-President Mar asked if the cottage was occupied and the answer was yes.

Mr. Andrew Zacks, Attorney for Mr. Satish K. Gupta, gave a presentation and discussed the following points:
* Property owner and tenant have reached an agreement which will hopefully change outcome of the case.
* Tenant stated that his grievance to the Building Department was regarding the Certificate of Final Completion and Occupancy (CFCO).
* Tenant agrees that the CFCO should be reinstated.
* Owner has met requirements for CFCO.
* This is not a case the BIC has to worry about setting a precedent.
* Assessor’s website states dwelling units are often in-law units at ground floor.
* Only the Building Permit history and 3R report is evidence for legality.
* Mr. Gupta relied on the 3R report when he paid for the 3-unit property.
* Important that the Board reinstate the property.  Important to preserve the dwelling unit.
* The Inspectors have visited the site.

Mr. Jeff Bergman represented the tenant, Mr. Dan Lipsitt.  Mr. Bergman said that Mr. Lipsitt has withdrawn his objection to the issuance of the CFCO, and did not oppose the revocation.

Mr. Dan Lipsitt said that based on their stipulation he was not opposing the issuance of the CFCO and the revocation.

Rebuttal by Mr. Zacks – Deputy City Attorney Buck Delventhal said that the BIC has the authority to determine vested rights.  Mr. Gupta relied on the 3R report, and the Board has lawful authority.  Section 109A.1 states that, “No building or structure shall be used without a Certificate of Occupancy …or otherwise has been approved for use by the Department of Building Inspection.” The Commission is not just looking at the CFC but the authority of DBI to approve a use.  There are electrical and other permits that apply to this unit.  The City represented to the buyer that this was a lawful unit.  Mr. Delventhal was clear that the Commission has broad authority.

Commissioner’s & Staff Question & Answer Discussion:
(Note:  There was extensive discussion among the Commissioners regarding this Appeal and following are some of their comments.)
* V.P. Mar said this was a tough case but he is glad there is an agreement now.  It bothers him that when the City messes up, everybody pays but sometimes the City “The Big We” should pay.  He appreciated Inspector O’Riordan’s update that the property is habitable.
* President McCarthy said that Mr. O’Riordan presented the facts and he looked up the listing in 2004 when the property was sold, and it was listed as a 3-unit building.  There were a series of bad events and he is surprised this was resolved, but it was too bad it was not resolved earlier.
* Commissioner Melgar disclosed that her daughter and Mr. Zacks’ daughter previously went to the same school.  Planning has jurisdiction over zoning and DBI has jurisdiction over building.  The unit has been occupied 10 years and this is something that the City wants more of.  There were no life-safety issues and she feels like the BIC has jurisdiction, but Planning could send out an Inspector also.
* Commissioner Walker said it was indicated that the 3R report was expired and she asked if DBI relied on an expired report?  Mr. O’Riordan said it was valid at the time of issue.  She has looked at data at DBI and often one property is referred to in different ways.  This should have gone through Planning, but DBI was appropriate in rescinding the CFCO.  Commissioner Walker did not agree to this and wanted to hold it in abeyance.

Rebuttal by DBI – Chief O’Riordan said that he did not have any rebuttal.

Mr. Zacks referenced the new legislation from the Board of Supervisors Planning Code Section180-H and stated the following, regarding a non-conforming unit does not provide conclusive evidence that the unit is illegal then it shall be presumed to be a legal non-conforming unit.  He said this was the Board of Supervisors speaking in the last year and a half relating to cases like this, so that should give the BIC comfort that this does not require Planning review.  Mr. Zacks asked that the Commission grant the appeal and reiterated that the CFCO should be reinstated. 

Secretary Harris called for public comment:

Dr. Espinola Jackson stated that she has been a homeowner since 1968 and she bought a 3-bedroom house.  In 2008 her house caught on fire – The fire was upstairs where the 3 bedrooms were and her kitchen had to be redone.  It took some good people to make sure that the work was done.  The kitchen was downstairs and existed when she bought the property.  Ms. Jackson said it took the good people (staff from the Department) to come and say that the kitchen was existing.  She said that she is 82 years of age and when people had property so long, back in the day it was the Italian community whose properties had upstairs and downstairs with a downstairs kitchen.  She could only cook downstairs when she bought the house because there was no electricity upstairs and did not have 220 wiring; there was gas downstairs.  Ms. Jackson said she was so glad and City Planning should not have been involved in this and she thanked DBI and the Commission for working with the people today.  It hurt her to hear that someone else was going through the same thing that she went through and she thanked the Commission for supporting the staff.

President McCarthy asked Deputy City Attorney Zachary Porianda to clarify the statement made by the previous City Attorney, Buck Delventhal, that the BIC has jurisdiction over this case.

Deputy City Attorney Zachary Porianda stated that the Commission has jurisdiction to assess the decision of the Director.  Mr. Porianda also read a reference to the Administrative Code Section 77.5 -F that further clarified the BIC’s jurisdiction.

Commissioner Melgar made a motion, seconded by Vice-President Mar to revoke the Director’s decision and reinstate the Certificate of Occupancy.

Secretary Harris called for a roll call vote:

President McCarthy        YES        Vice-President Mar        YES
Commissioner Clinch        YES        Commissioner McCray    YES
Commissioner Melgar        YES        Commissioner Walker    NO

The motion carried with a vote of 5 to 1.


Mr. Porianda said as a procedural point the BIC needs to issue written findings within 90 days and he would prepare the findings and let the parties know once they have been issued.

6. Discussion regarding concerns with the removal of debris during the demolition of Candlestick Park.

Deputy Director of Inspection Services, Dan Lowrey, along with various City Department partner representatives: Stephanie Cushing of the Department of Public Health, John Marvin of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Lida Hussein of the Office of Community Investment & Infrastructure (OCII is the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency) - OCII has entered into a public, private partnership with Lennar Urban, a private developer for the redevelopment of Candlestick Stadium. Lastly, Bronson Johnson from Lennar Urban, Developer for the Candlestick project.

Mr. Lowrey and the above mentioned persons gave a Power Point presentation on the Candlestick Demolition: Dust Control Plan and addressed the following topics:

* Demolition & Project Timeline
* Response to March 19th Letter
o Role of Agencies and Information on where to report violations
o Increased Community Involvement
* Language Access; Signs in Multiple Languages
o Transparency of the Monitoring Process
* Location and Availability of All Monitors
* Correct Installation of Monitors
* Dust/Asbestos Monitors Installed by Ignacio Avenue & Bret Harte
o Community Selected Third Party Inspector
o City Agency Collaboration on Best Practice DCP
* Role of City Departments – Department of Building Inspection (DBI)
* Role of City Departments – Department of Public Health (DPH)
* Role of Regional Agency – Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)
* List of Agencies and Phone Numbers to report Violations
* Increased Community Involvement
* Signs in Multiple Languages
* Transparency of the Air Monitoring
* Community Selected Third Party Inspector
* City Agency Collaboration on Best Practice Dust Control Plan (DCP)
* Additional Dust Mitigation Action Measures

President McCarthy called for public comment. 

Dr. Tompkins thanked the Commission for taking leadership and initiative and having staff to set up meetings and work with the community.  Other institutions in the City have not done this and they are missing in action.    OCII is viewed as nothing more than as a public relations unit with Lennar, rather than working in the interest of citizens who pay their salaries.  Dr. Tompkin’s organization would like the permit to be pulled.  Today was a nice presentation with slides, but three weeks have been wasted. The stadium is being torn down now, and as he drove in today he inspected the stadium and there was only one hose and one gentleman spraying, even after all of the conversations on dust control.  Prior to that, there were two sprayers.  Ms. Moore and others have dust in their house, and he has been there within one week and their wine glasses were covered with dust.  The methodology being employed is ineffective; you have to look at results not the rhetoric.   He questioned the lab’s work – They went Candlestick Park and Alyce Griffith in four minutes.  Nowhere did it show improper installation of the monitors.  They had KPIX news reel looking at that, so it was not just a crazy white-haired doctor looking at it.  At the meeting some of the members asked that signs be put up in Chinese, Spanish and English.  Signs were done but they are too thin and hard to see from the road.  They also asked that the website be in a readable format for consumption by the general public who do not have a scientific background.  At the meeting he was yelled at and told by the Health Department that was not possible.  Dr. Tompkins showed a newspaper article from the S.F. Chronicle and referenced a study that he did over 20 years ago on environmental chemistry and engineering at UC Berkeley teaching middle grade students.

President McCarthy apologized for having to interrupt Dr. Tompkins but stated that his 3 minutes were up.  He also said that he appreciated Dr. Tompkins for taking the time to attend the BIC and he knows that 3 minutes is not enough time to say all that he has to present.  Dr. Tompkins reiterated that the community wants the permit pulled and to be taken seriously.

Dr. Espinola Jackson said that three minutes would not do the job but she provided some reading material for the Commissioners.  She said that it was important for them to understand and know what the community has gone through, and it hurts that they have been given 3 minutes. She asked OCII to give them minutes of when everything occurred, but they could not provide them.  She did not miss a Redevelopment Agency meeting when they were talking about Alice Griffith which was built in 1960 – It was built on landfill and the grounds have not been tested.  People have died and are still dying over there, mothers have had stillborn babies, and they are a sick, sick community.  When the dust and wind blows, it does not blow one or two ways but goes in circles as well.  She lives at 3231 Ingalls Street and the only reason the work was stopped over there was because she called a friend, Francisco De Costa.  There is a lot of dust coming into her house and she lives three blocks away from where they are.  She walked to the site to see what they were doing and there is no State or Federal Compliance Officer in the City of San Francisco other than the S.F. Unified School District.  HUD guidelines, Section 3, are not being approved.  They do not hear anything from the Health Department.  In the materials the BIC can see what occurred in 2011 between DPH and another department in cahoots together – It was all about money not about their lives in Bayview Hunters Point.  She has been living in Bayview since 1948 and she knows the community, because she grew up there.  Her mom moved to Bayview in 1943, she was 10 years of age and she is 82 now so she knows the area but others do not.  Each time she went to a meeting she brought information but does not think anyone read it, because they do not care.  She hopes the BIC listens to what is going on, the job needs to be stopped, and the Ricoh Act needs to be enforced in S.F.

Ms. Yolanda Willis said, S.F. is becoming a city known for the Eric Gardner syndrome because we cannot breathe.  When they say they cannot breathe their complaints are ignored and there is a culture that says to continue the human rights violations, killing the Black community.  The community asked that the EIR only be continued under a mechanical demolition, but they tried to “sneak one in on them” as shown in the documentation that was provided by Dr. Jackson.  To say that a university professor and chemist is not qualified is a joke.  People are dying and no one cares. This is a 90 day, 3 month project but she posed the question would people put dogs under the same conditions as Black people are being put under.  She mentioned the issue of not knowing where to put the monitoring devices.  They are almost at the end of the project and discussing where the optimal siting is.  Ms. Willis and her parents grew up in the Bayview and she does not want history to repeat itself.  If stuff in the air is generating asthma, she would not leave her dog there but Blacks are in inhumane conditions and she asked that they be considered higher than dogs.

There were presentations by all of the City Department representatives and the Developer.  In addition, there was extensive discussion among the DBI staff and the Commissioners.  Some of the Commissioners comments are as follows:
* Commissioner Melgar said that this is a health and safety issue, so the first call that the public makes should not be to the developer, as they have a vested interest in their project.
* Commissioner Walker said they (commissioners) do not live next door to the project and health issues are serious.  She hears the speakers and this is real and not “blowing smoke”.  Departments need to do more than what is required.
* Vice-President Mar said that this is a controversial project and he thanked the BIC and DBI staff for “camping out” at Candlestick and following up on things.  This is taking place in an under-served community that has not been served well by the City in the past.
* Commissioner McCray thanked all of the staff for their reports and asked who was going to take responsibility for doing what “WE” said “WE” were going to do.  Ms. Willis said that people are dying while work is being done so Lennar, the Health Department, and all parties involved need to ensure that people do what is needed for the community.
* President McCarthy said that the BIC is not pretending that everything is under control.  He has seen Ms. Jackson as an activist since the 80s, and he believes everyone is telling the truth.  Transparency is important for the community and there needs to be accountability.
* Director Hui said that DBI has been conducting bi-weekly meetings involving DPH and other departments.  DBI staff are not experts at reviewing the reports, but will ask for help from DPH.  DBI has an Inspector at the site to monitor the dust.

8.  Discussion on Accela Permit and Project Tracking System.

Mr. Henry Bartley gave the following update on the Accela Permit and Project Tracking System:

PPTS Project Status

* There are 21 configuration items yet to be completed on the punch list critical to go-live
Data Migration
* The final full migration test and QA event is scheduled for late April – early May
* Accela/21 Tech has 6 of 60 go-live-critical reports accepted
* DBI has 6 of 83 go-live-critical reports accepted

End-to-End (E2E) Business Simulation
* The purpose of this exercise is to:
1. Demonstrate that Accela supports cross-division business processes
2. Capture process-elapsed time to compare to current operational processes
* The gating item for E2E is completion of the final data migration run and testing
* E2E is scheduled for the end of May
* DBI’s Executive team will set a go-live date once E2E is complete and any resulting issues are fixed to ensure the new PPTS meets minimal customer requirements

There was no public comment on item 8.

Commissioner Walker made a motion, seconded by Commissioner McCray, to continue Agenda Items 7, 9, and 12.  All Commissioners voted in favor and the motion carried unanimously.


7. Director’s Report.
a. Update on DBI’s finances.
b. Update on proposed legislation.
c. Update on major projects.
d. Update on code enforcement.

(Item 7 was continued to the next meeting.)

9.   Update on the Department of Building Inspection’s Fee Study.

(Item 9 was continued to the next meeting.)

12.  Discussion and possible action on conference with legal counsel.
a. Public Comment on all matters pertaining to the Closed Session.
b. Possible action to convene a Closed Session.
c. CLOSED SESSION:  Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a) and the San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.8.
    Existing Litigation:
          Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, LLC dba Marshall & Swift vs. City and County of San 
          United States District Court Central District of California
                  Case No. 2:14-CV-6029-MMM (JPRx)
  d.   Reconvene in Open Session to vote on whether to disclose any or all discussions                                                                               held in Closed Session (Administrative Code Section 67.10(b).

(Item 12 was continued to the next meeting.)

10. Discussion and possible action regarding possible modifications to existing Administrative Bulletin AB-004, Priority Permit Processing Guidelines to align the Department of Building Inspection requirements with the new Planning Department Priority permit processing requirements. 

Mr. Kirk Means of DBI Technical Services Division and Secretary to the Code Advisory Committee, presented AB-004 regarding Priority Permit Processing Guidelines.  Upping the number of priority permits.  Planning Departments bulletin upped their guidelines with their bulletin.  DBI adopted Planning guidelines but under their green building requirements and certifications, along with some additional requirements specified in the bulletin.

Commissioner McCray made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Walker to approve Administrative Bulletin AB-004, Priority Permit Processing Guidelines, and Administrative Bulletin AB-094, Definition and Design Criteria for Voluntary Seismic Upgrade of Soft Story, Type V (Wood Frame) Buildings.

Secretary Harris called for a roll call vote:

President McCarthy        YES        Vice-President Mar        YES
Commissioner McCray        YES        Commissioner Walker    YES
The motion carried unanimously.


11. Discussion and possible action regarding possible modifications to existing Administrative Bulletin AB-094, Definition and Design Criteria for Voluntary Seismic Upgrade of Soft Story, Type V (Wood Frame) Buildings in lieu of the recent enactment of Board of Supervisors Ordinance No. 30-15. 

Please Note:  Above motion included Items 10 and 11.

Mr. Kirk Means presented AB-094, Definition and Design Criteria for Voluntary Seismic Upgrade of Soft Story, Type V (Wood Frame) Buildings.  History is Ordinance 54-10 already in place, was passed in 2010 and initiated voluntary seismic upgrades for buildings in S.F.  AB-094 Administrative provisions define soft story buildings and says what standards are needed to be upgraded.   Subsequent to that Ordinance 66-13 is the mandatory seismic program that had its own definition of soft story and narrowed the Planning codes regarding parking and density if they are doing one of the two previous seismic programs.  

Mr. Ned Fennie, Chair of the Code Advisory Committee, said that AB-094 was put in place because they did not have seismic standards to upgrade soft stories and they wanted to encourage people to not wait for them to come up with the standards but to start processing their designs to mitigate the soft stories.  34-b changes caught up and it lessened the incentive for AB-094 because there is now a mandatory program.  Offering expedited processing is not an incentive because they have other standards, so from a house keeping standpoint AB-094 is not needed; however it got written into the new ordinance 30-15 so there is some question about the legality of it.  There is an issue of whether or not to keep it because it is written into another ordinance as a reference.  The Code Advisory Committee discussed this and supported the Structural Sub-Committee in saying that AB-094 is no longer needed and should be rescinded.

Commissioner Walker asked for clarification as to whether or not there was a need to keep AB-094.

Mr. Means said that the mandatory program only deals with five units or more and the voluntary program does not have a minimum number of units so by default the five units or more have been taken care of in the mandatory program, but the four units or less have not and are still under the voluntary program.  Voluntary program covers buildings built in 1973 or before while mandatory program covers buildings built in 1978 or earlier, so some clean-up work needs to be done in the form of a bulletin.

Mr. Fennie said the CAC forwarded a letter to the BIC regarding the new ordinance 30-15 and allows new living units in buildings that qualify for seismic upgrades under 34-b and some other buildings in the City.  The structural engineers on the Structural Sub-Committee were not consulted ahead of time so the people that helped create the FEMA standard and 34-b were not involved in the discussions with the supervisor’s office regarding this class of buildings in the ordinance.  The concern is that the new ordinance encourages new units in upgraded buildings; however the structural engineers informed him that those buildings are the weakest class of buildings so 34-b takes the Achilles heel out of these buildings but at the end of the day they are still weak buildings in the community.  The Committee wants strong buildings and housing, but want to encourage new units in buildings that are stronger not weaker even if they have been mandated.  They have open channel of communication with the supervisor, and maybe there is a possibility to up the standards or work out other provisions.  They want the Commission’s support that the CAC wants strong housing and for it to be up to current code levels, and want it to be better places for people to live.

President McCarthy asked for Mr. Patrick Otellini to speak to this issue.

Mr. Patrick Otellini , Director of Earthquake Safety and Chief Resilience Officer for the City, commended Mr. Fennie and the CAC for being champions and making sure that housing in the City is more resilient and safe.  AB-094 still provides valuable incentives for three to four unit buildings not required to follow the guidance under 34-b.  They do not want to see AB-094 go away, because it still provides incentives to some small property owners.

Mr. Fennie said for AB-094 to stay in place it needs a rewrite because there are no standards for the three and four unit buildings only the five unit buildings.

President McCarthy called for public comment.

Mr. Patrick Buscovich said that the soft story ordinance is to improve the performance and not all buildings will be perfect.  Mr. Buscovich showed a drawing indicating a bell-shaped curve of what can happen which amounted to about 20%, and as a society we can afford.  Mr. Buscovich proposed his idea of adding accessory dwelling units to soft story retrofits at a very inexpensive cost.  The concern is that they will be adding additional units to buildings that are not perfect, but the City is in a housing crisis.  They should be adding units in better buildings but also these buildings, and one suggestion is of the 6,000 buildings they are talking about there will be “so-so retrofits”, 20%.  About 30% will opt in to add a unit that will be affordable because they are smaller units – There should be a firewall between the 1,800 that they are going to add and the 20% that will be retrofitted.  In the soft story program there are 62,000 units so no one should lose site of what the Director and Deputy Director are doing because it is a huge program, and if some units can be added we should do it.

  13.     Commissioner’s Questions and Matters. 
a.    Inquiries to Staff.  At this time, Commissioners may make inquiries to staff regarding   various documents, policies, practices, and procedures, which are of interest to the Commission.
   Vice-President Mar requested additional information on the monthly Code Enforcement report, such as number of inspections, and separate out how many NOV’s and which time period they fall into; have they been sitting for one, two or three years.  When does the NOV get resolved from issuance to abatement?  BIC has been getting good reports on inspections and number of complaints, but he wanted to capture that information.

Commissioner Walker said there have been allegations of corruption and an investigation by the City Attorney’s Office of a previous sitting official.  As a commissioner she takes allegations of corruption very seriously and the public needs to know that the BIC takes this seriously and are cooperating fully.

  President McCarthy concurred with Commissioner Walker’s comments.

b. Future Meetings/Agendas.  At this time, the Commission may discuss and take action to set the date of a Special Meeting and/or determine those items that could be placed on the agenda of the next meeting and other future meetings of the Building Inspection Commission.

14. Adjournment.

Commissioner Walker made a motion, seconded by Vice-President Mar, to adjourn the meeting. The motion carried unanimously.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:11 p.m.



                                            Respectfully submitted,


                                    Sonya Harris
                                    Commission Secretary


Follow up on removal of debris during Candlestick Park demolition. – McCray 
Page 10
Request to include additional information on the monthly Code Enforcement Update, specifically regarding NOVs.  –Mar 
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