Building Inspection Commission - February 19, 2020 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
February 19, 2020 - 10:00am

PDF icon BIC Minutes 02-19-20.pdf

Department of Building Inspection (DBI)
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416
Aired Live on SFGTV Channel 78
ADOPTED June 17, 2020
The regular meeting of the Building Inspection Commission was called to order at 10:07 a.m.
1. Call to Order and Roll Call - Roll call was taken and a quorum was certified.
Angus McCarthy, President
Sam Moss, Vice-President
Jon Jacobo, Commissioner
Jason Tam, Commissioner
Sonya Harris, Secretary
Tom Hui, Director
Alysabeth Alexander-Tut, Commissioner
Kevin Clinch, Commissioner
Frank Lee, Commissioner
Edward Sweeney, Deputy Director, Inspection Services
Taras Madison, Chief Financial Officer
John Murray, Legislative and Public Affairs
Robb Kapla, Deputy City Attorney
2. President's Announcements.
President McCarthy made the following announcements:
• Good Morning and Welcome to the Building Inspection Commission meeting for February, 2019.
• I'd like to begin with a message to all of the staff at the Department of Building Inspection.
I know that with everything in the news, many of you have been the target of personal attacks or had your integrity called into question. I know that this kind of thing has always come with the job at DBI, but with everything going on, you are bound to see more of them.
• Please know that I and my colleagues on the commission support you and will continue to do so. We know that you will continue to work with integrity and diligence and that departmental leadership will do everything they can to support you as well.
• Congratulations to Director Hui who participated in another Seismic Safety Outreach Program graduation January 31 - where another 48 residents graduated from the 5-day training course. This brings our total number of Seismic Safety Ambassadors to nearly 4,000 since the program began in 2015 - and means we are better prepared to respond and recover quickly after the next Big One.
• A special thanks to all of the DBI employees who volunteered for the Chinatown Community Fair, where they talked with community members about our Housing Inspection Services and emergency preparedness and distributed 3 00 first aid kits and 15 of our emergency backpacks.
• Kudos to Director Hui for representing the Department of Building Inspection at several Chinese New Year Events in Chinatown and throughout the city. Chief among them, of course, was the annual Chinese New Year Parade. Many thanks for representing the Department in the community.
• Finally, DBI' s Employee Recognition Committee reviewed selected Senior Building Inspector Joe Duffy as our Employee of Quarter Four 2019. Inspector Duffy has been recognized for his outstanding professionalism, dedication, and service to the people of San Francisco, and his willingness to go above and beyond to achieve the mission of DBI.
• That concludes my announcements.
3. General Public Comment: The BIC will take public comment on matters within the Commission's jurisdiction that are not part of this agenda.
Secretary Harris called for public comment, and there was none.
4. Election of BIC President and Vice-President.
Commissioner Alexander-Tut said reflecting on Commissioner Walker's comments, she believed that balance and transparency are important in the leadership.
Commissioner Jacobo said he echoed that sentiment, and they were present in the spirit of unity, and it gave them the opportunity to highlight the importance of balance and gender issue. This is their first year as Commissioners and learning what is done regarding the officer positions.
Commissioner Lee made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Jacobo, to nominate
Commissioner Angus McCarthy as President and Commissioner Sam Moss as Vice-President.
The motion carried unanimously.
5. 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.
Commissioner Jacobo mentioned the FBI indictment and asked to agendize a report for viewers to say what DBI knows and said that it was important to be transparent, and know what DBI was doing.
President McCarthy stated that the Commission could ask the Director or DBI staff to update the BIC on the department's ethical training and policies to date. He also said that staff could reach out to other cities to see what the best practices are. It might be best to let everyone do their jobs, and then discuss the next steps. The rank and file employee's reputation has been tarnished, and he is very defensive of the DBI staff. As President, he wanted to convey that the Commission supports the staff, so keep their heads high. Staff works hard, makes hard decisions, and have to give customers bad news at times. President McCarthy emphasized that it was important things be done correctly and according to the law.
Vice-President Moss said that he agreed with both Commissioners, and he asked if this was the correct forum to discuss whether or not the department has adequate staffing.
President McCarthy said that Housing Inspector positions have not been filled, and he was wondering why. He asked if the list was up to date? He mentioned that clerical staff are important, but Housing Inspectors are important as well.
Commissioner Alexander-Tut stated that she encouraged staff participation of any investigation.
She asked about DBI's database, including the next steps, information about a new database or an old one. She also asked about an update on Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and if they were getting a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
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.
Secretary Harris stated that the next Regular Meeting of the Building Inspection Commission would be on March 18, 2020.
6. Discussion and possible action regarding a proposed ordinance repealing Ordinance Nos. 38-1 7 and 102-19, and reenacting certain provisions by amending the Administrative Code to update the Hotel Conversion Ordinance, including: adding or refining definitions of comparable unit, conversion, and low-income household; revising procedures for permits to convert residential units; harmonizing fees and penalty provisions with the Building Code, in addition to other requirements.
Mr. John Murray, Legislative & Public Affairs, said that there was a court order amending the Hotel Conversion Ordinance (HCO). City owners challenged this, and the court agreed with the plaintiff reinstating 3 8-1 7 and 102-19.
Commissioner Alexander-Tut asked if the ordinance could be summarized in detail.
Mr. Matt Luton, Senior Housing Inspector, stated that in general DBI was updating the hotel fines to make them in line with the current climate. Legislation gives administrative subpoena power, and cleaned up language of the ordinance. Also, a sub-section was taken out Commissioner Alexander-Tut asked about the 7-day minimum rental piece, and Senior Inspector Luton said this item was not dealt with in the HCO, but was addressed in another ordinance. He also said that the 7-day minimum was for residential guest rooms, and there was an amortization period.
Deputy City Attorney Robb Kap la said that in 201 7 the original ordinance was the first in many years, and it updated procedures and record keeping. Provided definition for the first time of tourist and transient use. In 2017 it was required that transient or tourist use be less than 32 days.
The HCO legislation is repealing both of the prior mentioned items. This is going back to the ordinance as existed in 2017, because it was taking longer to reach compliance. These are procedural updates, and the ordinance is in response to the court order repealing the 2017 ordinance, and it goes back to the 7 days.
Commissioner Alexander-Tut asked about rental documentation, and enforcement of comparable units/rents.
Deputy City Attorney Kap la stated that part of the 2017 ordinance needs to be re-adopted, and all clean up provisions were adopted in 2017. Mr. Kapla referenced the last paragraph of the legislative digest Commissioner Alexander-Tut asked if any other community organizations have looked at the HCO ordinance?
Senior Inspector Luton said yes, it went through the Board of Supervisors process.
Deputy City Attorney Kapla said that this legislation has already gone to the Rules Committee.
President McCarthy asked if the ordinance would go to the BOS next for "prime time", and if it had been vetted?
Secretary Harris called for public comment.
Mr. Ryan Patterson of Zacks, Freedman, & Patterson, said that the ordinance comes from litigation, and the judge ordered it to be repealed. He has a problem with other new things in the SRO ordinance, and does not agree with it and it is not lawful. Mr. Patterson referenced a document that he showed on the overhead projector. He stated that they previously won in court, and if there was any violation of the HCO, hotels lose right for seasonal rentals. Loss ofrights and does not require due process. Planning Commission should review legislation too. The right way is to request to separate out the repeal of the 201 7 ordinance, and then start over with changes the city wants to make with the HCO. He stated that this goes against the court order.
Commissioner Alexander-Tut said that she reached out to community organizations, and SRO tenants did not know about this ordinance so she thinks the BIC needs more time on this.
Mr. Kapla said that nothing changed substantively from what was adopted in 2017.
President McCarthy commented that it was an unusual way of handling legislation.
Deputy City Attorney Kapla stated that there were no changes to the Planning Code, so they would not weigh in. Ordinance was vetted out and passed in 201 7. Repeal would take place immediately. If the item were continued, the city would not enforce provisions in the meantime, and it would delay the city's ability to repeal. If the BIC's chose not to recommend or continue the item, it could delay things. The delay would repeal the City Attorney Office's ability to comply with the court.
Commissioner Lee asked if the ordinance was heard at the Rules Committee?
Mr. Kapla confirmed that it was heard at the Rules Committee in the second or third week of January. The action would be to repeal the entire ordinance, not subject to litigation prior.
Commissioner Jacobo made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Alexander-Tut, to continue the item to the March BIC meeting.
Secretary Harris called for a roll call vote:
President McCarthy YES Vice-President Moss
Commissioner Clinch YES Commissioner Jacobo
Commissioner Lee YES Commissioner Tam
Commissioner Alexander-Tut YES
The motion carried unanimously.
7. Discussion and possible action regarding a proposed ordinance amending the Planning and Building Codes to reauthorize the waiver of fees related to granting ,legal status to existing dwelling units constructed without required permits and extending the waiver through December 31, 2024, in addition to other requirements.
Mr. John Murray, Legislative & Public Affairs, stated that this ordinance extends a fee waiver for the unit legalization that has There are a lot of illegal units throughout the city, and this fee waiver was put in place to encourage people to come forward to create a legalization path to go forward, and get the units up to Code and on the books. This had a 5-year sunset date which came on January 1st, so the department would like to extend it for another 5 years. There would be some reporting requirements added as well, similar to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program. At the end of the year DBI would review the total amount of money waived, total number of projects, and units legalized- Single family vs. multi-family homes to see who is talcing advantage of the program and fee waivers. Is it someone that owns multiple properties, how long have they owned the property, and whether or not the applicant has applied fora building permit on another residential property in the last ten years. Goal is to get a sense of who is using the program, and the department is supportive of this. Thus far about $660K in fees have been waived, and since the unit legalization program has started DBI has seen about 300 units legalized, 1,000 people completed the screening form to apply for permits, and about 500 permits have been issued.
Vice-President Moss said that he was curious about the department's outreach efforts for the program. Thousands have come forward, but he is sure most people that have units are afraid of
the permitting process. He quipped that it is his job and he is afraid of the process, so it would be good if DBI helped to assuage their fears from the beginning.
Mr. Murray said that there is a screening process, and it allows folks to talk to the Technical Services Division (TSD) to get a sense of what needs to be done to legalize a unit. This allows people to come in first and present their situation, and see what can or cannot be done - It is sort of no questions asked at that point, and customers can walk away. Once a screening form is
completed, they are "locked in" and will have to either legalize or get a Conditional Use ( CU) to legalize the unit. DBI has been doing outreach since the program begin via Next Door, Twitter, Community Workshops, in the Sunset and other areas.
Director Tom Hui said that he and DBI staff have attended neighborhood workshops with Supervisors, spoke on radio and television, and advertised in the newspaper. The Department has encouraged people to fill out the form, and not give their name but some people do not want their property taxes to increase. In the old days they could remove the unit, but now they cannot do so.
The Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program has been more successful with the rent incentive at market rate.
Commissioner Lee asked if only the Department of Building Inspection was waiving fees?
Director Hui stated that DBI and the Planning Department are waiving fees.
Commissioner Lee asked how much money was saved per project? Mr. Murray said about $5,000.
Ms. Daisy Quan of Supervisor Gordon Mar's office, thanked the BIC for continuing the fee waiver extension. Ms. Quan said that it would continue for the next 5 years, and address affordability of units. Present units are safe and desirable, and in the Sunset district there are a lot of single family homes. They are trying to encourage people to come "out of the shadows". Supervisor Mar is working on incentives for the program, and trying to preserve the housing stock.
Vice-President Moss made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Tam, to approve the ordinance to reauthorize the waiver of fees related to granting legal status to existing dwelling units
constructed without required permits and extending the waiver through December 31, 2024.
Secretary Harris called for a roll call vote:
President McCarthy YES Vice-President Moss
Commissioner Clinch YES Commissioner Jacobo
Commissioner Lee YES Commissioner Tam
Commissioner Alexander-Tut YES
The motion carried unanimously.
8. Director's· Report.
a. Update on DBI's finances.
Deputy Director of Finance Services, Taras Madison, gave an update on DBI's finances and addressed the following points:
• Presented the January 2020 financial report.
• Revenue-DBI's revenue are strong, and the department has collected $43.6M, compared to $45.9M last year (1 % increase due to plan review and building permits).
• Expenditures-$38.SM, which was a 9% increase as the budget has grown over the past year, due to salaries and services to other departments. Increase in work orders, one was 49 SVN project.
• Overall permit activity is the same, and DBI issued 21K- 22K permits, but the valuation is lower and a 24% decrease from last year. Building permits and plan review revenue fees are based on valuation.
• January maybe lower than December, since the Code change happened in December and the department collected $4M in one month.
b. Update on proposed or recently enacted State or local legislation.
Mr. John Murray, Legislative and Public Affairs, gave an update on recently enacted State or local legislation and addressed the following items:
• The BIC previously heard the HCO and unit legalization legislation, as well as an update about the ABE program, and the deadline was extended.
• File No. 19097 4 -Ordinance proposing new buildings meet stricter energy standards if plumbed with natural gas. The Mayor signed the legislation last month and it took effect this week,
• File No. 180969 - Plumbing Code Cross Connection Controls - Legislation has to do with backflow preventers for soda machines. Ordinance was approved by the Board of Supervisors, and is awaiting the Mayor's approval.
c. Update on major projects.
Director Tom Hui stated that there was a slight increase in major projects of .24%.
d. Update on Code Enforcement.
Deputy Director of Inspection Services, Edward Sweeney, presented the following Building Inspection Division Performance Measures for January 1, 2020 to January 31, 2020:
• Building Inspections Performed 5,411
• Complaints Received 491
• Complaint Response within 24-72 hours 488
• Complaints with lstNotice of Violation sent 69
• Complaints Received & Abated without NOV 298
• Abated Complaints with Notice of Violations 52
• 2nd Notice of Violations Referred to Code Enforcement 77
Deputy Director Sweeney presented the following Housing Inspection Services Performance Measures for January 1, 2020 to January 31, 2020:
• Housing Inspections Performed 839
• Complaints Received 323
• Complaint Response within 24-72 hours 315
• Complaints with Notice of Violations issued 140
• Abated Complaints with NOV s 265
• # of Cases Sent to Director's Hearing 53
• Routine Inspections 95
Deputy Director Sweeney presented the following Code Enforcement Services Performance Measures for January 1, 2020 to January 31, 2020:
• # Housing of Cases Sent to Director's Hearing 162
• # Complaints of Order of Abatements Issues 42
• # Complaint of Cases Under Advisement 30
• # Complaints of Cases Abated 164
• Code Enforcement Inspections Performed 279
• # of Cases Referred to BIC-LC
• # of Case Referred to City Attorney
Deputy Director Sweeney said Code Enforcement Outreach Programs are updated on a quarterly basis, so there is no change in data until next quarter:
• # Total people reached out to
• # Counseling cases
• # Community Program Participants
• # Cases Resolved
Commission Secretary Harris called for public-comment and there was none.
9. Review and approval of the minutes of the Regular Meeting of January 15, 2020.
Commissioner Lee made a motion, seconded by Vice-President Moss, to approve the minutes of the Regular meeting of January 15, 2020. The motion carried unanimously.
10. Adjournment.
Commissioner Clinch made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Tam, to adjourn the Meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:58 a.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Sonya Harris, BIC Secretary