The ongoing corruption scandal that rocked the building inspection department, resulting in resignations and at least one federal indictment, spilled over at a supervisory board committee meeting on Monday as board members administration roasted city staff over a particularly egregious project in the Portola district.

The hearing, called by supervisor Hillary Ronen, involved 2869-2899 San Bruno Ave., where a developer illegally crammed 29 apartments into a housing complex approved for just 10 units, according to the city. Final inspections for this project were approved by former Chief Inspector Bernie Curran, who was accused last month of wire fraud in a scheme in which he allegedly gave preferential treatment to a politically connected entrepreneur in exchange of contributions to Curran youth sports organizations. supported.

In $ 1.2 million settlement with San Bruno Avenue developer, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office alleges developer violated multiple building codes and state housing laws during construction from the 2016 apartment complex. They did not include the below market rate unit required by city law; kitchens and bathrooms were added without a permit; and the building did not have the second exit required for tenants in the event of a fire. Instead of two units in each of the five connected buildings, they built six units in four and five in another, according to the city.

On Monday, the Acting Director of the Building Inspection Department, Patrick O’Riordan, said Curran claimed to have performed the inspections on the property, but never entered the reports into the permit tracking system at the chance of the city, instead scribbling the results on the project’s “work map”. who has disappeared. He said it’s not clear if Curran actually inspected the property or if he just signed seven inspections without going there and reviewing the work.

“We have to assume that these inspections have not been carried out,” said O’Riordan.

O’Riordan told the board of supervisors committee that Curran claimed he was asked to perform the inspection by former DBI manager Tom Hui.

Ronen also criticized the city attorney’s office on Monday for what she called a “weak settlement” of $ 1.2 million in the case. If the 19 unauthorized units rented out for $ 3,000 apiece, as The Chronicle reports, the income from the illegal apartments would exceed $ 500,000 per year.

Ronen called the settlement “barely a slap on the wrist that does nothing to prevent this from happening again.” She said the city could have included punitive measures, such as ensuring their contractor’s license was revoked by the state.

“This bylaw does not protect tenants, it does not protect the city, and it does not set any precedent or help us revoke the bad guys’ license,” she said.

Deputy city attorney Peter Keith, who works on code enforcement cases, said the settlement “compared favorably” to what the city would have won in damages had the case been brought to trial. courts.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said the case is another example of why corruption thrives in the DBI – those caught in the private sector get away with a light sentence while rogue public sector workers simply quit their jobs with their big pensions intact.

“The worst thing that happens is you lose your job,” he said. “If you make enough money being a con artist, it can be a risk to take. “

The hearing shed light on the extent of Curran’s influence across the department. In an agency where the typical lead inspector did 25 or 30 final inspections a year, Curran did as many as 300. While other lead inspectors stayed within the geographic boundaries they were assigned to oversee, Curran looked like Zelig in its capacity to burst. all over town, performing regular inspections for well-connected builders with a history of flouting building codes.

“These 270 additional inspections were done for a reason. Said supervisor Myrna Melgar. “I don’t think he went there and did them for fun.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said other departments have improved or deteriorated over the two decades of public service, but DBI has remained a bastion of corruption, rewarding those who turn a blind eye to favoritism and cronyism, despite periodic efforts to reform its culture.

O’Riordan said he was trying to change the department. “The vast majority of our employees are good, hard-working and honest people,” he said. “If there are any bad apples here, we’ll find them and take action. “

Peskin didn’t seem convinced.

“I’ve heard those words before,” he said.

JK Dineen is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @sfjkdineen



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