San Francisco

SF District Attorney Probes Legitimacy of Claims Against Chinatown Shop Owners

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San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin says his office is launching an investigation into demand letters and lawsuits sent to business owners in Chinatown alleging violations of the American with Disabilities Act.

The DA is getting involved to investigate the legitimacy of the claims against more than 100 shop owners in the past month.

During a Wednesday news conference, Boudin along with several Chinatown business owners and community leaders expressed concerns about potential exploitation in the form of those legal actions that may have no merit. And Chinatown's chamber of commerce announced it is putting together a $25,000 legal fund to help the shop owners respond.

Boudin made it clear his office takes allegations of ADA violations very seriously.

"We will not tolerate fraud or abuse of legal process," he said. "We will stand with our small businesses; we will open an investigation into these allegations, and we encourage any small business in San Francisco, in Chinatown to come forward and cooperate with our investigation and get to the bottom of whether or not these claims are fraudulent."

Doug Mei, a Chinatown community organizer, believes the claims are suspicious.

"All they've been doing is trying to sell takeout orders, and based on the claims, I don't see any way possible that this person was able to go into an establishment looking for dining," Mei said.

When contacted Thursday, an attorney sending the legal notices declined to go into the details of the demand letters.

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