San Francisco

Planning Commissioner in San Francisco Says Inspectors Tried to Silence Him

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A planning commissioner in San Francisco, who raised concerns about questionable work, says inspectors tried to silence him.

The Planning Commissioner asked a lot of questions about building permits violations during public meetings at city hill and Dennis Richards’ attorney says the Department of Building Inspection’s reaction to those questions was harassment.

“You're going trace permit back to contaminated permits where there were lies,” said Richards.

Richards and his business partner filed a lawsuit against the Department of Building Inspection and the city of San Francisco claiming DBI inspectors tried to derail a project Richards was involved in on 22nd Street to send him a message.

“Then you have an anonymous complaint made, within hours you have a senior inspector rushing down to try and find something wrong with this building,” said attorney Scott Emblidge. “A building that had been inspected nine to 12 times with no problems.”

Emblidge said an inspector even tried to interfere with the sale of the property.

“Building inspector showed up at a broker open loudly speaking about alleged violations,” he said.

Emblidge says the retaliation led Richards to take a leave from the planning commission.   

The city attorney office says it hasn't seen the lawsuit, so it is not commenting.

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