New DBI chief pledges to regain ‘trust’ of residents 

The newly hired executive director for The City’s oft-criticized Department of Building Inspection promised to "earn back the respect and trust" of San Franciscans.

Isam Hasenin, 48, has worked for the last five years for the city of San Diego, where he was the chief building official. He is also vice chairman of the California Building Standards Commission, which is responsible for the adoption and implementation of building codes in California.

The Department of Building Inspection, which issues permits for construction projects in The City, has struggled for many years under accusations of corruption, favoritism and inefficiency. The FBI has raided the office on several occasions during the last three years, and claims an ongoing investigation continues.

In 2004, during his first year in office, Mayor Gavin Newsomappointed a monitor to investigate whether some developers were receiving preferential treatment in getting building permit approvals. When acting Director Amy Lee was put into the top job in 2005, she was charged with cleaning up the department.

"It was always my purpose to be an interim director," Lee said, after a meeting of the governing board of the Department of Building Inspection on Monday. "One of the goals was to stabilize the department and make it a place that was more attractive, so a highly qualified person would want to come to the department."

Hasenin said he is familiar with the problems that have plagued San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection and is ready to tackle them head on. He said in San Diego he dealt with similar issues and played a key role in streamlining the review and inspections process of the Southern California city’s building department.

"We’ll earn the respect and trust of our citizens back, and we’ll earn it one customer at a time," Hasenin said. "It might take a year or two, but I’m positive we’ll get there."

Hasenin is scheduled to begin working for San Francisco on March 19. Lee said she is not ready to discuss her future employment plans.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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