Posts Tagged ‘Disabled’

Dennis Herrera Throws Down: Sues Short-Term Rental Scofflaws for Illegal Conversions, Unlawful Business Practices – Ellis Act, Baby!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

[UPDATE: Direct link here and the full press kit with complaint here.]

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, The Happy Warrior:

“Herrera sues short-term rental scofflaws for illegal conversions, unlawful business practices

Two cases target ‘egregious offenders’—both involving Ellis Act evictions of disabled tenants to illegally convert residential apartments into tourist lodging

SAN FRANCISCO (April 23, 2014) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed two separate lawsuits against short-term rental scofflaws for illegally converting residential apartments into commercial tourist lodging, which the property owners then marketed through such online platforms as Airbnb, Homeway.com and VRBO.com.  In both cases, the defendants had previously evicted long-term residents from their apartments under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows landlords to evict tenants and withdraw their properties from the residential rental market.  Two of the evicted tenants were disabled, according to San Francisco Superior Court and Rent Board records cited in today’s pleadings.

“In the midst of a housing crisis of historic proportions, illegal short-term rental conversions of our scarce residential housing stock risks becoming a major contributing factor,” said Herrera.  “The cases I’ve filed today target two egregious offenders.  These defendants didn’t just flout state and local law to conduct their illegal businesses, they evicted disabled tenants in order to do so.  Today’s cases are the first among several housing-related matters under investigation by my office, and we intend to crack down hard on unlawful conduct that’s exacerbating—and in many cases profiting from—San Francisco’s alarming lack of affordable housing.  I’m grateful to the city departments, including the San Francisco Planning Department, and community advocates who have worked with my office to help us pursue these kinds of scofflaws.  And I encourage tenants and neighbors to report housing-related wrongdoing online to my office through our Up2Code.org website or the Up2Code app, or by calling our Code Enforcement Hotline at (415) 554-3977.”

Herrera’s complaints filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning detail pervasive violations of the city Planning Code and state Unfair Competition Law at three addresses: 3073-3075 Clay Street, owned by defendants Darren and Valerie Lee; and 734 and 790 Bay Street, which is owned or managed by defendants Lev, Tamara and Tatyana Yurovsky.  If successful, the litigation could result in permanent court-ordered injunctions; civil penalties of up to $200 per day for Planning Code violations; up to $2,500 for each unlawful business act; disgorgement of illegally obtained profits; and attorneys’ fees.  Though the Ellis Act itself does not preclude the commercial use of properties for tourists where long-term tenants have previously been evicted, Herrera’s litigation emphasized longstanding city policy that tourist conversions of residential properties be aggressively policed “in order to protect the residents and to conserve the limited housing resources.”

According to one of Herrera’s civil actions, defendants Darren and Valerie Lee purchased 3073-3075 Clay Street in 2004, and invoked the Ellis Act in 2005 to evict their tenants from both of the property’s residential units.  One of the evicted tenants was disabled.  Evidence presented in the complaint found that the Lees have marketed 3075 Clay Street, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom property, for tourist lodging on such vacation websites such as Homeaway.com and VRBO.com since 2009, describing it as an “exquisitely renovated home, in prime Pacific Heights.”  The Lees charged their guests between $395 and $595 per night for a minimum stay of three nights.  But in doing so, the owners flouted the city’s required conditional use authorization process—depriving neighbors and city planners of their role to first determine whether the conversion is necessary or desirable; compatible with the neighborhood; detrimental to the City’s housing stock; or consistent with the city’s Planning Code or Planning Department’s General Plan.  According to Herrera’s complaint, San Francisco’s Planning Department repeatedly cited the Lees for their illegal use of the property for commercial tourist lodging, even collecting penalties of as much $250 per day for violations.  The Lees—who at one point assured Planning Department officials that their illegal conduct had stopped—then defiantly resumed marketing and renting their property to tourists.  In 3073 Clay Street, the Lees evicted a disabled tenant who had lived in the unit for more than ten years and, until evicted, was paying $1,087 per month.  By invoking the Ellis Act, the Lees were legally restricted until August 25, 2011, from re-renting the unit at market rate.  But evidence presented in Herrera’s action shows that the Lees admitted to the Planning Department that they had, in fact, re-rented 3073 Clay Street and charged their new residential tenants between $5,000-$7,038 per month.

Herrera’s other civil complaint against Lev, Tamara and Tatyana Yurovsky notes that they, too, used the Ellis Act to evict long-term residential tenants — including one who was disabled — from one of their properties, at 734 Bay Street.  Together with a residential unit at another of their properties owned by Lev and Tatyana and managed by Tamara, at 790 Bay Street, the Yurovskys illegally converted their apartments into tourist use beginning in 2010.  They marketed the rentals to tourists on Airbnb.com and “greatsfvacation.com” for rates of between $165 and $320 per night, with three-night minimum stays.  Though the Yurovsky defendants boasted on social media that they had hosted several hundred tourists, according to evidence detailed in the complaint, they too flouted the city’s conditional use authorization process, violating the San Francisco Planning Code and state law.

The cases are: City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Darren Lee et al., San Francisco Superior Court No. 538857; and City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Tamara Yurovsky et al., San Francisco Superior Court No. 538854.  Additional documentation from the case is available on the City Attorney’s website at:http://www.sfcityattorney.org/.

OMG, the SFMTA-Free “Forum on the Future of Transit in San Francisco” is Coming on August 18th, 2012!

Monday, August 6th, 2012

That’s right, the SFMTA isn’t sponsoring this one-day event next week and it isn’t invited neither.

Check it:

SAVEMUNI.COM FORUM - THE FUTURE OF TRANSIT IN SAN FRANCISCO

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2012, 10:30 AM TO 4:00 PM

Koret Auditorium, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, S.F.

“SaveMuni.com will be holding a Forum on the Future of Transit in San Francisco at the Koret Auditorium, SF Main Library, on Saturday, August 18. Registration starts 10 am; program begins 10:30 am.

The morning session deals with the current state of transit in San Francisco, and the afternoon session takes up ideas for improvements in Muni service and financing.

Speakers include:

transportation engineer Gerald Cauthen,

disabled rights activist Bob Planthold,

Tom Rubin, CPA who has been the chief financial officer of two of the largest transit agencies in the United States,

public policy consultant Bob Feinbaum,

architect Howard Wong, and

foreperson Linda Clardy of the 2010-11 SF Civil Grand Jury.

Co-sponsors of the Forum include the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, San Francisco Tomorrow, Sierra Club and TransForm.”

OK then.

See you there the Saturday after next!

A few more deets on what SAVE MUNI has been up to the past month or so:

“Special Announcements

Muni Transportation Forum:

A Muni Transportation Forum, sponsored by SaveMuni and other groups will be held on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Main Library, beginning at 10:00 am. The focus of the Forum will be on the general problems that prevent Muni from operating at full effectiveness and on some broad approaches to improving the situation.

Central Subway Litigation News:

August 4, 2012: To our knowledge there are at least three separate lawsuits now in progress or pending against the Central Subway. Any of them could block or significantly alter the project. More revelations to come.

Central Subway Disconnected from Muni:

Current: The Central Subway would be disconnected from the Market Street corridor, Muni Metro, BART, Ferries, Transbay Terminal, High-speed Rail, regional and statewide transit networks. Central Subway riders would have to travel on foot for over 1,200 feet to reach the Powell Muni Metro/BART Station. As part of the Subway project, today’s bus service into northeastern San Francisco would be cut by 50%. Most of today’s Stockton Street Muni users would find their subway trips to be longer than today’s bus trips.

Today’s Stockton Street bus riders can easily transfer to Muni LRV lines J, K, L, N, M, F and T and to Muni east-west bus lines 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 9L, 10, 12, 14, 14L, 14x, 21, 31, 71, 71L and 76. Connections to every one of these 24 east-west lines as well as to all the BART lines would be substantially less convenient from the Central Subway than from today’s Stockton Street bus lines.

Central Subway Milestones:

August 29, 2011: SFMTA’s False Claims: Charts, developed from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s(SFMTA’s) own data, compare Central Subway ridership, costs and trip times. The charts illustrate how the SFMTA was telling the Feds one thing and San Franciscans another. ChartsTARAugust2911.pdf

Non-Intuitive Parking Assist: Why Is It That Most of the Handicapped Motorists in SF Drive Luxury Cars and Park for Free?

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Maybe the perfect option for your luxury car is a handicapped placard?

Your license plate says that you’re an SF Resident, so of course a placard hanging from the rear-view:

Click to expand

Think about it – which is the better option? Something like Intuitive Parking Assist, which will park your car for you only after you’ve found a space, or a placard, which will allow you to park wherever you want all day for free?

I’d prefer the placard.

You’re on the honor system with this one. If you feel as if you deserve to park wherever you want for free all day long, then you’ll be able to get one.

It’s not hard.

Here’s the Way Tax Authorities Discover that You’re Undereporting Cash Income at Your Restaurant or Bar – It’s Easy!

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I suppose that somewhere in the universe there are Japanese and Japanese-American restaurant owners operating Chinese food places, but that’s certainly not the case in San Francisco’s Richmond District, which has a mess of Chinese  and Chinese American operators of Japanese restaurants.

As here, at Fune Ya, which used to operate on Clement Street. Read about its tax problems via Will “Big Daddy” Kane right here.

Photo via the Richmond District Blog

How do the state and federal authorities know that you taking the cash that customers give you and simply putting it your pocket? They don’t need to visit your place, they just look at monthly reports and compare them with neighboring businesses. So if you pocket half the cash customers give you that means that your “credit card percentage,” the percentage of sales you make from credit cards, goes up, a lot. And I guarantee you that your CCP will be higher than similar businesses in your area. That’ll make you stand out.

Like these people from this other place down in San Mateo County:

“Taxpayer operates a restaurant. For audit, taxpayer provided bank statements and credit card  merchant statements for the audit period, and guest checks and cash register tapes for December 2007. The Sales and Use Tax Department (Department) found that bank deposits exceeded reported total sales, and, for several months, there were no deposits of cash, which were indications that reported taxable sales were understated.”

In that case, the CCP was an impossible 100%. And also, the owners apparently deposited their cash anyway, which also looks funny.

Anyway, if you skim a little bit occasionally, you’ll get away with it. But you won’t save all that much money and you’ll have to keep up with it on a daily basis. And you’ll have to prevent your lousy employees from finding out and reporting you or finding out and skimming from you yourself. It gets complicated.

Now, if you’re used to flagrantly violating any laws you please, then you’re not going to like dealing with one  THOMAS E. FRANKOVICH (State Bar No. 074414). Why? Because he’ll send somebody in a wheelchair into your restaurant and then it’s game over, man. Game over:

“Plaintiff CRAIG YATES is a person with physical disabilities who, on or about March 10, 2008, March 14, 2008, March 16, 2008, August 15, 2008, August 23, 2008, December 20, 2008, March 7, 2009 and March 26, 2009, was an invitee, guest, patron, customer at defendants’ FUNE YA JAPANESE RESTAURANT, in the City of San Francisco, California. At said time and place, defendants failed to provide proper legal access to the sushi bar, which is a “public accommodation” and/or a “public facility” including, but not limited to entrance, dining area, men’s restroom and women’s restroom.”

So, all the money you “saved” through skimming gets paid out to lawyer Tom Frankovich.

And then you shut the place down.

Oh well.

The Shame of San Francisco: People Abusing the California Handicapped Placard Program for Easy Parking

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Most of the cars parked in this area just south of Market Street had handicapped placards.

Here’s three in a row, the most my wide angle lens would let me take in. This is typical:

Click to expand

The fact is that most of the people who use handicapped placards to park in San Francisco are abusing the system. 

Oh well.

DPT Stakeout at Costco – Disabled Placard “Street Team” – Expired Permit – Jersey Plates – Lonely Pooch

Monday, November 21st, 2011

(Check it, my first pro-SFMTA post.)

This cute pup was guarding an Acura parked on 10th Street while its owner visited our SoMA Costco (I assume, I mean, why else would anybody park down there?)

Click to expand

Problem? The disabled placard hanging from the rear-view has expired. See?

So guess who was waiting for this car’s owner to show up – it was DPT’s Disabled Placard Street Team with their bright blue shoulder patches.

Les mise-en-scene avec Etat de Jardin* license plates sur la Acura bleu:

This issue could end up costing the driver thousands of dollars, when all is said and done.** (I can’t say for sure because I don’t get paid by the City Family to stakeout cars, plus I had to split. Oh well.)

Now, WWSD? Like What Would KRON-TV’s Stanley Roberts Do if he came upon this scene? Oh yes, something like this.

But, you know, I might possibly be beefier than Stanley (I know I’m taller than he but I could actually outweigh him) and, you know, I wouldn’t want to get into an another Elmo situation.

Bon courage, Acura pooch. Your owner will need all the love she can get today.

*Garden State – it’s a Jersey Thing.***

**The funny thing is that Costco has plenty of free parking. And honestly, I don’t think the good people of Costco would care all that much if you parked in their garage while shopping elsewhere. As stated, there’s nothing else going on ’round that area so it’s not like they’re on the lookout for renegade parkers. 

***YouTube, you’re too funny. Oprah + Snooki = ???

Showdown at Masonic on the #5 Fulton Bus: Did a MUNI Driver Discriminate Against a Disabled Rider?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

It’s hard to say.

Famous San Francisco photographer Justin Beck was on the scene:

“Photo: #Muni rider who refused to leave the bike rack of the 5 Fulton bus, and the driver whom he called a motherfucker. http://pic.twitter.com/jIphZ9Cw

Via Justin Beck – click to expand

Here’s the prior scene.

And here’s the aftermath.

I don’t know what to make of this one…

Jesse Jackson’s National Transit Roadshow Arrives Con Brio, Sans Jesse

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Well, this is what was promised for today’s noontime transit worker rally at the Old Federal Building on Golden Gate and Polk:

Turns out that Jesse didn’t show. (Here’s what you would have seen and heard.) 

But a couple-hundred or so transit workers and allies were on hand at the plaza in front of Big Blue:

And here’s how they got there. How apropropriate!

Here’s who was there. I see District 9 San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson, and TWU 250-a Union President Irwin Lum, for starters: 

Are riders and drivers really united? Not that I can see, not in San Francisco. I’m mean, I’m sure that all involved would like Uncle Sucker to rain cash down upon the City, but beyond that, there’s not much uniting these groups. It would be nice to cancel the already-useless Central Subway and use the extra billion (or two or three) that that would free up to pay for transit people are using today, but the system doesn’t work that way, obviously. Oh well.  

Here’s a take from Greg Dewar at the N Judah Chronicles.

On It Goes:

Anyway, here’s the spiel:

“Transit service cuts, fare hikes and layoffs affect millions of Americans every day. You can help save transit and counteract the nation-wide transit crisis by rallying with the Save Our Ride alliance.

Save Our Ride was formed by the Transport Workers Union, Amalgamated Transit Union and Reverend Jesse Jackson to raise awareness of the transit crisis and to rally for the passage of transit bills that will allow flexibility of federal aid for transit. The alliance is an advocate for more affordable and efficient transit systems, better air quality and a greener future for America.

You can download the full press release here.

Come show your support:

June 29, San Francisco: Noon, Federal Building on Golden Gate Bridge

July 1, Sacramento: Noon, Federal Building, 501 I street

July 7, Houston: 11 am, Mickey Leland Federal Building, 1919 Smith Street

July 9, Miami: 2 pm, Government Center Building

Download the San Francisco flyer here.

Speakers to include: James C. Little, President International TWU; Harry Lombardo, TWU Executive Vice President; Warren George, President of International ATU; Reverend Jesse Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Other speakers will include TWU and ATU local leadership, legislators, community and civil rights groups, riders who are suffering from service cuts and increased fares. (speakers subject to change)

Stay tuned to twu.org and ourride.org for speaker announcements and more information as the rallies approach.

The reason your fares have increased and your service has been cut is because the federal government has neglected transit for decades and the country’s on-going economic struggle that has slashed transit revenues has pushed transportation systems into their own crises.

“We can not allow our transit systems to crumble from financial neglect,” said President James C. Little. “We must work together to tell the federal government the neglect must stop.”

Federal subsidies to our country’s largest transportation systems do not allow enough flexibility for operating costs. So transit systems can use federal funds to buy news trains and buses (capital expenses), but not to pay the operators. If your bus doesn’t have an operator, you are not going to get to work on time.

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), have proposed bills, H.R.2746and S3189, that would allow transit agencies to flex funding to suit local needs. Also, eight senators from the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee introduced a bill, S. 3412, to authorize emergency funding for transit agencies to help reverse fare increases and service cuts.

This legislation will help to save our transit systems, provide thousands of green transit jobs, and keep transportation affordable. If you take the bus, train, subway or streetcar to work and use public transportation to send your children to school and if you want to work towards a cleaner environment, less congested streets and green jobs, then come share your story and your voice and Save Our Ride!