Nonessential Construction Triggers Massive Complaints by SF Residents
April 10, 2020
As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection has been flooded with complaints of nonessential construction still going on in violation of the coronavirus health order. Most of these complaints are being lodged by residents who have observed work illegally continuing in their neighborhoods as they shelter in place.
The city received 730 complaints of unauthorized work, 180 of whic
h came directly to the building department, and 550 lodged through the city’s 311 customer service center between March 30 and April 8.
Before the health order, the department averaged 12 to 15 referrals a day. Inspectors are going through the large volume of complaints, reaching out to property owners and informing them of the need to shut down work, according to DBI Interim Director Patrick O’Riordan.
“While the pandemic and the Public Health Order are unprecedented, we are responding to complaints from the public as quickly as possible,” said O’Riordan.
On April 2, health officials from six Bay Area counties ruled that nonessential construction must halt until at least May 3 because of the coronavirus health emergency. The order shut down construction of hotels, commercial buildings and residential buildings that don’t have at least 10% affordable units.
It allows projects “that provide services to vulnerable populations” as well as those that are “required to maintain safety, sanitation and habitability of residences and commercial buildings.” The order also exempts health care projects related to fighting the Covid-19 crisis.
The orders cover Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Inspectors are monitoring sites that are allowed to continue work to make sure social distancing and other health orders are being followed.
“Almost all contractors are proactively complying with the Public Health Order guidance by shutting down non essential job sites when asked,” said O’Riordan.
If an owner or contractor does not comply with the correction notice within 48 hours, a notice of violation and order to stop all work is issued. If they continue to be noncompliant, the matter is sent to the Police Department.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he has forwarded about 40 or 50 complaints to the Department of Building Inspection, and all of them have been quickly resolved.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said last week’s revised order “provided a lot more clarity about what is allowed and not allowed.”
“If people are abiding by it, that is great,” he said. “If you are sheltering in place and there are a whole bunch of workers coming to your apartment building, potentially exposing residents and other workers to the virus, that’s obviously not what we want.”
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