Letter to Editor: How long is too long to build one house in South San Francisco?

South San Francisco, CA  June 22, 2022 by SSF Sign Hill residents

Dear ESC Editor:

How long is too long to build one house in South San Francisco?

This September marks the 11th anniversary of a building permit issued to build a new single-unit residential house in our Sign Hill neighborhood. And build it they did. In fact, they never finished building it. This construction, first started in September 2011, has not yet finalized. There is no foreseeable completion date.

In California, most residential building permits have time limit of 2 years, with permit holders required to pass a progress inspection every 6 months. When the time limit is reached, the project has not received final approval, or the permit holder fail to pass a progress inspection or obtain an extension, the building permit becomes null and void. A new application will be required and the project will be subject to new fees and regulations that are in effect at the time the new application is submitted.

These rules all sound great on paper. However, our SSF building department never enforces them, at least not in this case. Throughout the years, this construction had been halted multiple times, and the house had been left abandoned for months or even years. However, SSF building department continued to grant time extensions to the permit holder, even during the years when no progress was made. The project has been allowed to proceed under its original permit issued in 2011, so it did not need to comply with any new regulations or building codes.

Building permits have term limits for a reason: to minimize the impact of construction work on residents. Our neighborhood has endured a decade long of drilling, hammering, and stomping noises, blocked and damaged sidewalks, construction debris and hazardous materials left on the street or flying into neighbors’ backyards, construction workers using cones to block street parking for their own usage without proper encroachment permit. During the years when the construction site had been left abandoned, it had been overgrown with vegetation, and turned into a dumping ground. The worst part is that it has also attracted vagrants and illegal activities and posed threats to public safety.

Neighbors living around this house have repeatedly filed complaints and asked the City of South San Francisco to intervene. On Engage SSF (an online and mobile application for SSF residents to report non-emergency issues) alone, there are at least a dozen of complaints on this site for various reasons. Yet nothing much has been done for the safety of the families who live in the neighborhood.

In other cities, a prolonged construction like this without a valid excuse could be considered a municipal ordinance violation, and subject to penalties. Our city, however, has failed to hold the permit holder accountable for his poor due diligence. So I would like you to highlight this problem and in hope to get the City’s attention. It is time for the South City officials to take action to stop this nuisance.

 

Sincerely

SSF Sign Hill residents

 

 

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Neighbor
Neighbor
18 hours ago

Thank you for finally putting the city officials on blast. They haven’t been doing there civil servants duties at all. I used to lived across the street of that house and it was nightmare. There was old contractors looking for the owner of the house because the owner didn’t want to pay them for the work they have done. I watch the people he hire taking a shit on the side of the house because there was no running water inside and he was too cheap to pay for a portable toilet. I seen young kids go in there to have sex and do drugs. I had to deal with people illegally dumping in front of his house. Had to deal with him parking his retired black limo suv there for 2 years without him having to move it since there is no street cleaning on the block. I made complaints to the city after he thought it was ok to use a sledgehammer at 10pm so he can pass inspection the next day. I bet most of you city official live up on the nicer side of ssf. You should get off your ass and really do something to make ssf better instead of collecting checks and watch TV. Everyone know this address! IT 620 WALNUT AVE SSF

Neighbor
Neighbor
4 days ago

Thank you to who wrote this and appreciate you speaking up about it. This has been a big concern to the neighborhood. Glad that the neighborhood is not turning a blind eye on this one.

Amy
Amy
5 days ago

What street is the house on?

Annie Wong
Annie Wong
5 days ago

I’ve often wondered about this construction project; year after year it remains unfinished. How can the same permit issued in 2011 still be good for 2022?? Who’s asleep at the wheel?

SSF tax payer
SSF tax payer
5 days ago

It’s horrible to live next to a construction site for over 10 years. Ssf building department needs to take action to protect its residents. Seems like the city departments didn’t perform their jobs. Scandal investigation needed!!!!!

SSF tax payer
SSF tax payer
5 days ago

It’s horrible to live next to a construction site for over 10 years. Ssf building department needs to take action to protect its residents. Seems like the city departments didn’t perform their job! Scandal investigation needed!!!!!!

Jimmy
Jimmy
6 days ago

The lot has been under construction for over 10 years. Neighbors are constantly complaining to the city to no avail. The owner is rude and obnoxious whenever he is around the neighborhood. Why hasn’t the city done anything? Are his permits current? How is he able to continuously renew them after over 10 years of neglect?

long time resident
long time resident
6 days ago

Seriously? The city manager is not loyal to South city or ppl who live here. Talks a goodline while flashing a smile, but here for money and his next step somewhere else.

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident
6 days ago

I wonder if the Permit Dept got some kickback from this building permit holder? Maybe the permit office needs to be investigated to see why they aren’t doing their job if so many neighbors already filed complaints.

CYNTHIA MARCOPULOS
CYNTHIA MARCOPULOS
6 days ago

Contact the City Manager —

A concerned ssf resident
A concerned ssf resident
6 days ago

I am one of the affected neighbors. I wrote multiple emails to the mayor, city manager, city councilmen, and building department. They basically told me that nothing they can do about it.