S.F. settles suit with land­lords of ‘death trap’

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BAY AREA - By Do­minic Fra­cassa Do­minic Fra­cassa is a San Francisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: dfra­cassa@sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @do­minicfra­cassa

San Francisco City At­tor­ney Den­nis Her­rera an­nounced Thurs­day that his of­fice has reached a $620,000 set­tle­ment with the owner and com­mer­cial oc­cu­pant of a build­ing who housed ten­ants in a squalid, haz­ardous base­ment for at least 11 years.

The San Francisco Fire Depart­ment found 20 peo­ple liv­ing in rooms in­fested with rats and roaches in the base­ment of a three-story build­ing in the Outer Mis­sion neigh­bor­hood in 2016. The build­ing, at 46804690 Mis­sion St., houses the Clean Wash Cen­ter laun­dry on the ground floor.

Her­rera sued the owner, Melissa Men­doza of Hills­bor­ough, and the build­ing’s mas­ter ten­ant, Ernesto Pare­des of Daly City, in Au­gust, al­leg­ing a num­ber of fire, elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing and other code vi­o­la­tions and for oper­at­ing a pub­lic-nui­sance build­ing.

Pare­des was al­legedly charg­ing rents of $300 to $900 a month to live in what fire of­fi­cials re­ferred to as a “death trap.” The base­ment had leaky pipes, ex­posed wir­ing and only one exit. Rooms were par­ti­tioned off from one an­other with dry­wall and wood planks, and the only exit was 200 feet from the far­thest sleep­ing unit, Her­rera con­tended in a suit filed last year.

Those dwelling there were evac­u­ated from the build­ing and re­lo­cated in Feb­ru­ary 2017.

“We will not tol­er­ate slum­lords who prey on those strug­gling to get by,” Her­rera said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing the set­tle­ment. “If your busi­ness model is to vi­o­late the law and put peo­ple in harm’s way, be pre­pared to be put out of busi­ness.”

Un­der the terms of the set­tle­ment, Men­doza will pay $600,000 and Pare­des $20,000. The deal also places court-man­dated su­per­vi­sion on any prop­erty Men­doza owns, leases or ac­quires in San Francisco for at least 10 years. Pare­des is also for­bid­den from rent­ing prop­erty to any­one other than his im­me­di­ate fam­ily for the next 10 years.

San­ti­ago Me­jia / The Chron­i­cle 2017

The San Francisco Fire Depart­ment found 20 peo­ple liv­ing in rooms in­fested with rats and roaches in the base­ment of this build­ing in the Outer Mis­sion.

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