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Huge landlord under legal fire over units used as tourist rentals

September 9, 2015

By J.K. Dineen and John Wildermuth : sfchronicle – excerpt

City Attorney Dennis Herrera is turning up the heat on Trinity Properties, the developer of the 1,900-unit apartment complex under construction at Market and Eighth streets.

A month after filing a lawsuit accusing Trinity of using rent-controlled apartments as tourist accommodations, Herrera on Tuesday formally subpoenaed documents related to the case.

Herrera claims that Trinity Management, led by 88-year-old builder Angelo Sangiacomo, has illegally master-leased a block of 16 rent-controlled units at 1188 Mission St. to Lumi Worldwide, a San Francisco firm that offers “spacious and fully furnished apartments that stand apart from the standard hotel experience.”

All 16 units are subject to rent control, Herrera said in a statement. In addition, Lumi — which has marketed the units as the SOMA Suites Hotel — is master leasing an additional seven units at 1190 Mission St.

While those units are not subject to rent control, marketing them for use by short-term tourists or business travelers violates the development agreement Trinity signed when the project was approved in 2007….

 

“The benefits of those (affordable) units that your client committed to provide in the development agreement continue to be critically important to the city, especially at a time where the paucity of affordable housing is driving out long-term residents, disrupting communities, and altering the very fabric of our city,” Herrera wrote.

Investigation sought: An outside investigator is needed to dig into the “pay-to-play” culture at City Hall, a group of community activists said Tuesday, calling on the supervisors to set aside city money for “an independent investigation of illegal campaign contributions and unfair influence these donations have had on the city.”

After a small but noisy noon rally on the steps of City Hall, the group, led by leaders of the Courage Campaign and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, took petitions signed by more than 4,000 of their members to the office of each supervisor.

John Eller, an organizer for the alliance, said none of the supervisors has yet agreed to an outside investigation.

“This is a building block to let us see who’s aboard,” he said… (more)

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