Residents moving out of violation-plagued SF tech communes 

click to enlarge Alon Gutman stands outside of The Park Hotel at 1040 Folsom Street as he speaks to a construction worker, on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. The former tenants of the Park Hotel, 1040 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on November 12, 2014 for wrongful eviction against the owner Nasir Patel and lessee Danny Haber, claiming that they have refused to re-rent to them after they were displaced from the hotel by a fire on May 5, 2011. - GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Alon Gutman stands outside of The Park Hotel at 1040 Folsom Street as he speaks to a construction worker, on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. The former tenants of the Park Hotel, 1040 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on November 12, 2014 for wrongful eviction against the owner Nasir Patel and lessee Danny Haber, claiming that they have refused to re-rent to them after they were displaced from the hotel by a fire on May 5, 2011.

On a lightly rainy evening last week, a handful of residents at The Negev Folsom tech commune in South of Market merrily played ping pong in the common area newly adorned with a Christmas tree, lights and a blow-up Santa.

Yet those festive additions cannot sugar-coat the long list of building code violations that the property manager has failed to abate -- a situation that appears to be getting on the nerves of once largely complacent tenants.

Still, several of the 20-somethings living at 1040 Folsom St. laughed and seemed unbothered by water leakage in the living room and kitchen areas from the recent heavy rainfall. As far as some of them are concerned, it will soon be a problem in their past.

"People are moving out," Cory Bray, 30, a resident and former "president" of the commune, told The San Francisco Examiner. "When they look at things like the fire escape that's not safe and when The City issues notices of violation and it's not being taken seriously, at that point [the residents have] had enough and decided to go do something else. I've heard at least 10 confirmed to move out within the next 30 to 45 days."

Amid San Francisco's economic boom fueled in large part by the emerging tech industry, entrepreneurs like Danny Haber, 26, and Alon Gutman, 27, have found creative solutions for housing for an increasingly younger workforce. The pair started The Negev Twelfth last year and The Negev Sixth and The Negev Folsom this year. A bed in one of these places goes for $1,000 to $1,700 a month. But the properties are not without their problems.

In the past six weeks alone, the Department of Building Inspection issued six notices of violation at the single-room-occupancy Negev Folsom. Since building manager and leaseholder Haber did not reattach and secure the fire escape to the building within 30 days of the Nov. 6 notice, the property will be subject to its first building inspection director's hearing Jan. 8.

In the most recent inspection last week, housing inspector Luis Barahona found broken glass panes near the common space at the front of the building, no fire extinguisher and debris stored in a hot water heater room. Also, a fire alarm needed to be fixed and the source of a water leak that damaged the ceiling needed to be identified.

"They all need to be fixed; all of them are super-important," said Barahona, who also inspected The Negev Sixth at 219 Sixth St. and found similar violations.

At a director's hearing on Dec. 4 for The Negev Sixth, Haber listed some work completed to abate the violations and learned how to address an improperly installed water heater.

"By tomorrow, everything should be done," Haber said.

Meanwhile, work remains unfinished at The Negev Folsom and The Negev Twelfth at 200 12th St.

"In The City as a whole, most landlords are responsible," said senior housing inspector Jamie Sanbonmatsu. "But we do have enough that aren't that keep us busy."

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Bio:
Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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