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Bernal Heights Homeowners Accused Of Running Illegal Hotel Settle With City

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The owners of a home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood will pay $185,000 in civil penalties to settle a lawsuit brought on by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who alleged the owners illegally converted their home into a hotel.

The lawsuit, filed in May, claimed the home's owners, Erik Rogers and Anshu Singh, divided their Banks Street property into two units without permits and began renting it out to tourists via Airbnb and HomeAway/VRBO beginning in June 2016, violating state and local laws.

According to Herrera, in October 2017, guests at the home hosted a party where a fight broke out, resulting in a shootout. The gunfire allegedly prompted party guests to scatter, with some running from rooftop to rooftop and others trespassing through people's backyards.

Police allegedly recovered 100 bullets and shell casings and bullets allegedly pierced homes and damaged windows, doors, parked cars and the living room of a home. The gunfire also apparently hit someone, however, the victim suffered minor injuries.

Additionally, Herrera said that an investigation by his office found that Singh and Rogers at the time, had rented their home at least 319 times over a 16-month period, sometimes charging guests more than $700 per night.

The $185,000 in civil penalties that Singh and Rogers must pay accounts for the $160,000 the couple reaped from the rentals as well as $25,000 to cover investigative costs and to fund future enforcement. In addition, the couple will also be prohibited from conducting any short-term rentals on the property for the next five years, Herrera's office said.

Furthermore, the couple must bring the home into compliance with city planning and building codes within 180 days.

"This outcome preserves one more house to help a family stay in San Francisco, and it makes the neighborhood safer for everyone," Herrera said in a statement. "San Francisco's short-term rental laws exist for a reason—so that our homes aren't turned into illegal hotels. We cannot become a city that only has room for tourists and the wealthy," he said.

"For anyone thinking of disregarding San Francisco short-term rental regulations in the future, this judgment sends a clear message that we take these laws seriously and intend to enforce them to keep residential neighborhoods safe."

San Francisco requires that residents renting units for less than 30 days at a time register with the city's Office of Short-Term Rentals and that they also be permanent residents of the property, residing there at least 275 nights out of the year.

According to Herrera, Singh and Rogers lied on their short-term rental application, saying that they lived at the home, when in fact they lived in Bali, Indonesia and hired others to manage the property. After it was determined that the Banks Street home was not the couple's primary residence and that it contained illegal additions, the permit was denied a month later.

The couple, however, continued to rent the units to tourists, disregarding the city's laws, Herrera said.

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