San Francisco Chronicle
School board’s Collins, husband get month to fix illegal apartment
San Francisco building officials have given a 30-day deadline to resolve an illegal apartment merger case involving school board member Alison Collins and her husband, real estate developer Chris Collins.
The city found in April that the Collinses had violated city real estate laws when they merged two Russian Hill apartments to create a singlefamily home and completed other work without proper permits.
During a Department of Building Inspection hearing on Tuesday, Steve Panelli, the city’s chief plumbing inspector, ruled that the case be taken “under advisement” for 30 days, meaning the Collinses will have another month to fix the violations and pay fines. Tuesday’s hearing was previously scheduled in August and was delayed 30 days after the Collinses said they were working with the Planning Department to resolve it.
The city’s investigation came after a 103-page anonymous complaint in April, filed shortly after Alison Collins was embroiled in controversy over her 2016 tweets criticizing Asian Americans, including saying that they used “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.’ ” It isn’t clear who filed the complaint, but the city confirmed its allegations.
Chris Collins said during the online hearing Tuesday that he has been “working diligently” with the Planning Department by submitting new building plans and exchanging two dozen emails last month. He said he submitted all required documents on Monday.
He said that he is not seeking a permit to merge the two units but instead would ensure that the two separate apartments are in compliance by having two separate kitchens.
“We are not looking to get some sort of merger done to create one singlefamily home,” he said.
He said 95% of the building is in compliance and 5% of it needs to be fixed.
“We do want to clean that up immediately,” he said. “I believe we can accomplish what we need to very quickly.”
Dan Sider, chief of staff at the Planning Department, confirmed Collins has submitted an application to build a second, lower-level kitchen.
“There will be some work — though perhaps not much — required to install the kitchen in the lowest level,” Sider said. “We haven’t yet had a chance to review Mr. Collins’ submittal from yesterday, nor have we reviewed it against applicable policies.”
The Collineses will be fined $2,295 for plumbing permit violations and an additional amount for building permit violations, which will be calculated when the permit is submitted, according the Department of Building Inspection.
Chris Collins didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
The Chronicle is not publishing the address of the building because of the risk of potential harassment.
Panelli expressed disappointment that the case, which was opened in April, still wasn’t resolved.
“We need to get some kind of closure on this,” Panelli said. “At this point right now, it’s just sitting there in limbo.”
Separately, Alison Collins dropped her $87 million lawsuit against the school district and fellow school board members last week after a judge ruled against her. She sued after she was stripped of the school board vice presidency in the wake of her antiAsian comments. Collins and her fellow members Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga are also facing potential recall elections after backlash over pandemic reopening policies and the vote to remove merit-based admission at Lowell High School.