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San Francisco Supes Approve Crackdown On Contractors With Multiple Building Permit Violations

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to address what the legislation's author says is fraudulent abuse of the city's Department of Building Inspection's permit system.

The ordinance, authored by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, calls for the creation of the Expanded Compliance Control List, which will name construction companies or projects associated with three or more serious building permit violations within the last 18 months.

Any new building permit application associated with a party or project on that list will then be subjected to elevated scrutiny, multi-department reviews and increased inspections. DBI would be required to report contractors on the list to the Contractors State Licensing Board.

Furthermore, DBI would also be required to post the list on its website and provide regular reports about the list to the Building Inspection Commission.

"This is going to make the Department of Building Inspection more accountable and more transparent," Supervisor Aaron Peskin said at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

"The idea is twofold; not only do we have a list that individuals and the public can use to protect themselves from these bad contractors, but also subs (subcontractors) can pick and choose who they're working with based on the ones who are doing honest work, which we all know are the vast majority of people," Ronen said.

Ronen said in January a "history of fraud, corruption and malfeasance" in DBI's permitting practices had resulted in unpermitted projects that created a number of safety violations for residents.

"Once they (contractors) rack up those first few violations, they will be on a list and someone will go out and actually go and look at the work they claim they're doing. I think it will be targeted at those bad apples," Supervisor Dean Preston said.

Wrongdoings within DBI were uncovered last year as part of a federal corruption probe that began with the arrest of former Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru in Jan. 2020 on suspicion of wire fraud. Several other city officials and contractors have since been linked to the widespread corruption and charged.

In May, federal prosecutors charged former Building Commission President Rodrigo Santos with bank fraud, alleging Santos fraudulently deposited 261 checks into his personal account totaling $478,000 -- money from clients at his engineering company that were intended for payments to the Department of Building Inspection and other city departments.

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