Building Inspection Commission - March 18, 2020 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
March 18, 2020 - 10:00am
Location: 

PDF icon BIC Minutes 03-18-20.pdf

 
REGULAR MEETING
 
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 416
Aired Live on SFGTV Channel 78
 
ADOPTED August 19, 2020
MINUTES
 
The regular meeting of the Building Inspection Commission was called to order at 10:20 a.m.
1. Call to Order and Roll Call – Roll call was taken and a quorum was certified.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT:
Angus McCarthy, President Alysabeth Alexander-Tut, Commissioner
Sam Moss, Vice-President Kevin Clinch, Commissioner
Jon Jacobo, Commissioner Jason Tam, Commissioner
Sonya Harris, Secretary
D.B.I. REPRESENTATIVES:
Edward Sweeney, Deputy Director, Inspection Services
Taras Madison, Chief Financial Officer
Patrick O’Riordan, Chief Building Inspector
John Murray, Legislative and Public Affairs
CITY ATTORNEY REPRESENTATIVE
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 March, 2019.
  • I am confident that the dedicated and hard-working staff throughout the Department of Building Inspection are aware of their responsibilities to the people of San Francisco, and we will all continue to do our duty and uphold the public trust.do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • I applaud the department for taking steps to limit the virus’ spread, such as increased social distancing between customers and DBI staff, and more frequent cleaning of commonly shared public surfaces. Please, continue to pay attention to all public health instructions, and take all possible precautions for your own health and your loved ones. Be pro-active, and help us keep each other safe.
  • That concludes my announcements.
 
Secretary Harris called for public comment, and there was none.
 
3. General Public Comment: The BIC will take public comment on matters within the Commission’s jurisdiction that are not part of this agenda.
Mr. Jerry Dratler stated that the recent resignation of former DBI Director Tom Hui, and the March 12th stories about the city’s expanding probe of former BIC President and Structural Engineer Rodrigo Santos are clear indicators that an independent, professional, outside investigation of the department is long overdue. His interest in DBI began in 2012 when he served on the Civil Grand Jury that wrote a very unfavorable report on the Department. Mr. Dratler said that he has attended BIC meetings for the last seven years, and it is very difficult to identify and monitor projects like the nine Rodrigo Santos projects mentioned in the city’s expanded lawsuit. This lack of transparency is by design. An outside investigation needs to focus on the Department’s lack of internal control, and weak Building Code enforcement process. Current code enforcement penalties are not a deterrent, and 98% of the penalties issued are below $1,000 – A thousand dollars is the cost of doing business. DBI’s weak internal controls are present by design, and not by accident or lack of funding. DBI sabotaged the installation of new computer systems that would have made the department’s practice of favoring a few individuals more difficult and visible. DBI failed to implement Q-Matic, a system that would have eliminated the current process where contractors, expediters, and Structural Engineers, get to select the DBI employee to review and issue their building permit. – If you had the choice, would you pick your buddy? Q-Matic is a similar process used by the California DMV to randomly assign customers to counter employees. DBI also sabotaged the implementation of Accela. When you drill down into Mr. Santos’ specific projects, you would find it was the same small group of DBI employees who should not have approved his building permit over the counter, and field inspectors who should not have approved building permits or final inspections.
 
There was no additional public comment.
 
President McCarthy asked as a point of clarification if Items 4a and 4b could be removed from the calendar.
 
Deputy City Attorney Robb Kapla said that the Commission could vote to not hear the item.
 
The Commissioners voted to continue agenda items 4 a-b, 6, 7 a-d, and 8.
 
President McCarthy made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Alexander-Tut, to continue agenda items 4 a-b, 6, 7 a-d, and 8.
 
Secretary Harris called for a roll call vote:
President McCarthy YES Vice-President Moss YES
Commissioner Clinch YES Commissioner Jacobo YES
Commissioner Tam YES
Commissioner Alexander-Tut YES
The motion carried unanimously.
 
RESOLUTION NO. BIC 020-20
 
4. 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.
Commissioners voted to continue this item to a future meeting.
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.
Commissioners voted to continue this item to a future meeting.
 
5. Discussion and possible action regarding a proposed ordinance repealing Ordinance Nos. 38-17 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. (Continued from the February 19, 2020 BIC Meeting)
Commissioner Alexander-Tut thanked the other Commissioners for tabling the item until today’s meeting. She was able to talk to the community groups who had the time to review this, and they agreed to move forward with the item.
 
Deputy City Attorney Robb Kapla stated that there was a letter that was requested to be read into the record.
 
Secretary Harris read the following letter from Zacks, Freedman, & Patterson:
“Re: Brown Act Violation Objection to Hearing on Agenda Item 5 BOS File No. 191258 [Administrative Code – Hotel Conversion Ordinance]
 
Dear President McCarthy and Honorable Members of the Building Inspection Commission:
 
Our office represents the San Francisco SRO Hotel Coalition, Hotel Des Arts and numerous other individual owners of SROs who will be affected by this proposed ordinance.
 
In light of yesterday’s mandatory Shelter-in-Place Order1 and the serious public health risks of COVID-19, we must object to this hearing taking place without the opportunity for meaningful public participation as required by the Ralph. M. Brown Act (California Government Code 54950 et seq.). Neither my clients, nor their attorneys, nor other concerned members of the public can violate the Order and risk their health to testify at this hearing. The hearing must be postponed.
 
Filing written comments in advance is not an acceptable substitute for active participation in a public hearing, including reacting on the record in real-time to statements made by City staff or other members of the public.
 
Moreover, this proposed ordinance is not an imminent matter. While the Court has ordered the repeal of the previous ordinances, this can be accomplished without the proposed new amendments contained within this ordinance. These amendments are not urgent and do not affect an “Essential Governmental Function” as defined by the Order.
 
We respectfully request that this hearing be postponed until the Shelter-in-Place Order is lifted and the City is able to comply with the Brown Act. We reserve the right to submit additional arguments and materials in advance of the final hearing on this matter.”
Vice-President Moss made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Tam, to approve the proposed ordinance repealing Ordinance Nos. 38-17 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.
 
Secretary Harris called for a roll call vote:
President McCarthy YES Vice-President Moss YES
Commissioner Clinch YES Commissioner Jacobo YES
Commissioner Tam YES
Commissioner Alexander-Tut YES
The motion carried unanimously.
 
RESOLUTION NO. BIC 021-20
 
6. Discussion regarding the BIC’s/DBI’s ethical policies, procedures, and training requirements, and best practices in other comparable departments and cities.
 
 
Commissioners voted to continue this item to a future meeting.
 
7. Director’s Report.
a. Update on DBI’s finances.
b. Update on proposed or recently enacted State or local legislation.
c. Update on major projects.
d. Update on Code Enforcement.
 
Commissioners voted to continue this item to a future meeting.
 
8. Review and approval of the minutes of the Special Meeting of January 29, 2020.
Commissioners voted to continue this item to a future meeting.
 
9. PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT, Director of Building Inspection. Discussion and possible action to appoint Director of Building Inspection.
a. Public Comment on all matters pertaining to the Closed Session.
Mr. Jerry Dratler said if the Commission were looking to appoint an Interim Director, his suggestion would be former Deputy Director Rosemary Bosque. (Correction to title – Chief Housing Inspector). Mr. Dratler stated that she was also an attorney, thoughtful, and has good leadership skills, and knows the Department.
Secretary Harris stated that there was also additional public comment submitted via email from a person named Mr. White, and all of the Commissioners received it prior to the meeting.
b. Possible action to convene a Closed Session.
Commissioner Tam made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Alexander-Tut, to convene a Closed Session. The motion carried unanimously.
 
RESOLUTION NO. BIC 022-20
 
c. CLOSED SESSION: Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957(b) and the San Francisco Administrative Code Section 67.10(b).
Discussion and possible action to appoint Director of Building Inspection
The closed session convened at 10:24 a.m.
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)).
Vice-President Moss made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Alexander-Tut, to reconvene in Open Session. The motion carried unanimously.
 
RESOLUTION NO. BIC 023-20
 
 
The meeting reconvened in open session at 11:42 a.m.
 
President McCarthy said that the Commissioners had a lot of good discussion, and a number of thoughts for the future, and what is going to be needed for the Department, which he concurred with. The Commissioners unanimously approved Chief Building Inspector Patrick O’Riordan to step in as Interim Director during this difficult period, and they thanked him for accepting the position.
Mr. Patrick O’Riordan stated that he was thankful for the Commission appointing him as Interim Director, and for their expressed confidence in his leadership of DBI in what can only be called extraordinary times. He assured the Commission that there would continue to be a team effort to be involved in and commit to building safety, and the professionalism that all of the employees have. DBI has tremendous staff that works relentlessly every day to ensure that building and life safety codes are observed to the letter, along with the spirit of the laws behind them. Thanks to the Plan Review Engineers and staff and to all of the Building, Plumbing, Electrical, Housing, and Code Enforcement Inspectors. They know that structures are built to constantly improving standards, and thus is safe as contemporary construction engineering can deliver for everyone who works, lives, and recreates inside those buildings. He takes the responsibility the Commission has given with sincere humility and appreciation in their confidence in his building and construction background, and he plans to provide the Department with the leadership needed during these times of public health challenges. Staff will continue to do everything they can as a Department, to meet the Mayor’s and Board of Supervisors ongoing efforts to build more housing that is safe for all, especially for the city’s most vulnerable populations. He is honored to serve as the Department’s Interim Director and he will certainly do his best to work with the Commission and all city departments, the Mayor, and the Board of Supervisors, and all city employees. He would continue to provide leadership, and energy safety in the city of San Francisco.
Commissioner Jason Tam thanked DBI’s Deputy Director of Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Taras Madison, for stepping in during the Department’s time of need as Acting Director.
 
10. Adjournment.
Vice-President Moss made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Tam, to adjourn the Meeting. The motion carried unanimously.
 
RESOLUTION NO. BIC 024-20
 
The meeting was adjourned at 11:46 a.m.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
Sonya Harris, BIC Secretary