Pier 38 businesses being forced out due to safety problems 

click to enlarge Pink slips: Pier 38 has been the subject of a long legal dispute between the Port of San Francisco and lessee Carl Ernst. The pier had not had safety inspections for years. (Courtesy photo) - PINK SLIPS: PIER 38 HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT OF A LONG LEGAL DISPUTE BETWEEN THE PORT OF SAN FRANCISCO AND LESSEE CARL ERNST. THE PIER HAD NOT HAD SAFETY INSPECTIONS FOR YEARS. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • Pink slips: Pier 38 has been the subject of a long legal dispute between the Port of San Francisco and lessee Carl Ernst. The pier had not had safety inspections for years. (Courtesy photo)
  • Pink slips: Pier 38 has been the subject of a long legal dispute between the Port of San Francisco and lessee Carl Ernst. The pier had not had safety inspections for years. (Courtesy photo)

About three dozen businesses caught in the crossfire between the Port of San Francisco and one of its lessees are being evicted from their waterfront offices for safety reasons — and they’re not happy about it.

The tenants, many high-tech companies, have been renting space on Pier 38, a century-old Port property just south of the Bay Bridge.

The Port has not had access to the property until recently due to a long legal battle with the primary lessee. But a recent court decision allowed engineers to conduct an inspection of the pier, where they discovered "a laundry list" of safety problems that led them to order it vacated of tenants, Port spokeswoman Renee Martin said.

"They wanted to red-tag the building immediately and make everyone leave that day, but the real estate department begged for them to allow a little more time to reach out to the occupants to try to give people a little notice," Martin said.

Now the tenants have until the end of September to leave, which has many scrambling for information and help. The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development also has become involved in the situation and is working with the Port to find space for the tenants, who have all been contacted by the Mayor’s Office, spokeswoman Christine Falvey said.

But some tenants have yet to hear from officials about their options. Mark Heath, owner of Shelterbuilt Builders, said he has called the Port multiple times about relocating his green-building business, but has yet to hear back.

"It’s just been really difficult to get the Port to tell us what’s really going on; they’re telling us they could give us some sort of assistance, but we’ve got no confirmation of that," Heath said.

Pier 38, built around 1909, was already in disrepair when the Port leased it to tenant Carl Ernst, who had plans to repair and develop it.

However, those plans never materialized, and the Port engaged in a lengthy battle to evict Ernst.

In the meantime, Ernst sublet the space to more than 30 small businesses. Martin said Ernst had not allowed Port personnel on the property, so their first opportunity to examine it was only after the court ruling.

Heath said he and other businesses knew about the conflict between Ernst and the Port, but didn’t imagine it would affect them so directly.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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Katie Worth

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