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