Herrera Seeks Court Order to Immediately Address Squalor, Crime at Bridge Motel

Preliminary injunction is needed because defiant ownership ‘substantially endangers residents and neighboring properties,’ City Attorney argues
Bridge Motel Motion for Preliminary Injunction Presskit (Jan. 6, 2010)
Bridge Motel Motion for Preliminary Injunction Presskit (Jan. 6, 2010)

SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 6, 2010) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today moved for a preliminary injunction against the Bridge Motel, raising the stakes in the City’s ongoing legal battle with the owners and management of a squalid, crime-ridden Marina District residential hotel that has required nearly a hundred police service calls in recent months for incidents related to violence, drugs, and a panoply of other illegal and nuisance activity. Herrera filed his original civil action in October, detailing an egregious pattern of housing, fire and health code violations by the establishment’s operators, who have repeatedly defied corrective orders from City building, fire and health inspectors. Fully 31 Notices of Violation and six Orders of Abatement have gone virtually unheeded over last five years, according to the City Attorney’s pleadings.

But Herrera’s motion filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning argues that substandard conditions and criminal activity — which have persisted unabated since the lawsuit was filed — require extraordinary relief in the form of a preliminary injunction, even before the merits of the City’s case are fully adjudicated.

“The Bridge Motel is a tragedy waiting to happen, and the continued defiance of its owners make clear that a court order is needed to fix potentially deadly problems as soon as possible,” Herrera said. “This establishment is a public nuisance that substantially endangers the residents and neighboring properties. Public safety demands that we seek a tough, enforceable preliminary injunction even before we litigate over penalties. I remain enormously grateful for all the efforts of the San Francisco Police, Fire, Building, and Public Health Departments, which have enabled us to file this litigation, and to seek the extraordinary relief this troubling situation requires.”

Named as defendants in the Herrera’s lawsuit are Tarunkumar, Vinodkumar, Sangita and Vyomesh Patel, who, together with their affiliated trusts, own the property at 2524 Lombard Street; and Mohammed and Nasir Shaikh, who are believed to operate the Bridge Motel.

The City Attorney’s complaint detailed a broad array of criminal activity since August 2008 that clearly establish the residential hotel as a public nuisance, including arrests for: armed robbery, burglary, theft and forcible entry; battery and domestic violence; possession of stolen property, including a stolen vehicle; fraudulent use of an automated teller card; counterfeit currency; failure to register as a sex offender; drug sales and possession, including methamphetamine and heroin possession; throwing hypodermic needles into neighboring yards; terrorist threats, malicious mischief, vandalism to property and vehicles; parole and probation violations; and warrant arrests.

The complaint also enumerates a raft of code violations dating back to 2005, including notices of violations from the Department of Building Inspection involving fire safety, lack of heating, insufficient and inoperable bathrooms; clogged toilets, broken sinks and faucets; water leaks, broken windows and sash frames; missing guardrails; deteriorated concrete; damaged walls; accumulated garbage and debris; and rodent infestation. Code violations repeatedly identified by the Department of Public Health since 2006 include extensive cockroach and bedbug infestation; overflowing garbage and refuse throughout the building; befouled carpeting; mold; and lack of running water. The Fire Department Bureau of Fire Protection additionally identified code violations since 2006 that include: hazardous accumulation of combustible materials and trash; electrical extension cords used in lieu of permanent wiring; lack of working smoke detectors; lack of proof of fire alarm certification; blocked exit stairways; and double-sided locks in violation of the San Francisco Fire Code.

The case is City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Tarunkumar K. Patel et al., San Francisco Superior Court, Filed Oct. 26, 2009.