Herrera settles smoke shops litigation with tough injunctions, penalties

Injunction subjects the shop operators to heightened scrutiny and provides the City with a swift and severe remedy should future violations occur

SAN FRANCISCO (JUNE 14, 2011) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced a settlement with neighborhood smoke shops that secures injunctive relief and civil penalties against the shop operators. In February, Herrera filed civil lawsuits against six retail smoke shops in the Ingleside and Mission neighborhoods for public nuisance and sales of illegal drug paraphernalia exclusively intended for users and dealers of cocaine, crack and methamphetamine. Operators from four shops in the Ingleside District and the two in the Mission District had defied police warnings to halt the illicit sales, and several had long flouted community complaints about marketing drug wares in close proximity to schools and playgrounds.

“The irresponsible smoke shops are profiting illegally from a drug trade that devastates human lives, and puts enormous burdens on our police and public health services. Selling paraphernalia for cocaine, crack and methamphetamine diminishes a neighborhood’s quality of life, and shows utter disregard for public health and safety—especially for nearby children,” said Herrera. “I am very grateful to Police Chief Greg Suhr and police officers from Ingleside station for their excellent investigation to build the factual basis for the litigation. I also commend the efforts of community members who have worked tirelessly to address this lawlessness. I hope today’s settlement sends a strong message to other neighborhood smoke shops in the City that San Francisco does not tolerate trafficking of illegal drug paraphernalia.”

Under Herrera’s settlement, the five-year injunction against each of the shop operators has identical terms. Highlights include the following: operators are barred from selling any illegal drug paraphernalia; each operators must surrender all illegal drug paraphernalia to the SFPD within 24 hours of the execution of the injunction; 80% of each store’s storefront windows and doors must be kept clear at all times, to allow the SFPD a clear view of the interior of the store from the outside; operators must confine the display of legal drug paraphernalia to a portion of the store from which minors can be effectively excluded or prohibit minors from entering the store at all; operators are subject to unannounced inspections and searches of all portions of the store in which illegal drug paraphernalia might be stored; and operators are subject to the terms of the injunction at not only their current business, but at any and all San Francisco businesses requiring a tobacco permit which they operate during the term of the injunction, preventing operators from simply closing up their current shop and re-opening at another site to circumvent the injunction.

Should the operators violate any portion of the injunction, the City can bring a motion before the Court and seek monetary penalties of up to $6,000 for each violation. Each individual item of illegal drug paraphernalia constitutes a separate violation under the injunction.

In addition, operators of the stores located at 4784 Mission Street (“Mission Gifts and Tobacco”) and 4447 Mission Street (“Rock On”) will each pay $11,000 in civil penalties. The operators of the stores located at 5901 Mission Street (“The Platinum”), 912 Geneva Avenue (“House of Cigarettes”) and 3008 16th Street (“Tobacco Plaza Center Smoke and Gift Shop”) will each pay $5,000 in civil penalties. The difference in the penalty amounts is based on what the City’s investigation found to be aggravating factors. For example, the operators of 4784 Mission and 4447 Mission received and ignored multiple warnings from the police and this office. Also, there was evidence that the latter deliberately interfered during police inspections.

Case documents are available on the City Attorney’s Web site at https://www.sfcityattorney.org.

Related Documents:

PDF iconPDF copies of the complaints filed are available for Complaints  (Feb. 17, 2011)

PDF iconPDF copies settlement and injunction against: Tobacco Plaza, House Of Cigarettes, Mission Gifts & Tobacco, PlatinumRock On (Jun. 14, 2011)