Residents of flooded SF tower sue building managers

A lawsuit filed by more than 50 evacuees of the struggling San Francisco residence 33 Tehama alleges chronic mismanagement and deception that goes far beyond the damage caused by the 20,000-gallon flood that destroyed the luxury tower earlier this summer.

On June 3, residents of the building were surprised by a loudspeaker announcement asking all tenants to evacuate immediately after a burst pipe on the top floor sent the equivalent of a swimming pool full of water gushing through the building.

“On the second floor, water was dripping from the ceiling. It was really bad,” former resident Tyler Patterson told SFGATE at the time.

“We were freaking out – a lot of water was coming in so fast, and we didn’t know what to do. It was really scary because it was like a waterfall coming from…near the elevators in the center of the floor,” said tenant Samantha Acuna, a plaintiff in the case, in a statement shared with SFGATE.

After the evacuation, many displaced residents claimed that property management company Hines failed to adequately communicate where they should find shelter. Hines booked residents into two downtown San Francisco hotels the night of the flood, but were reportedly told to leave only two days later without knowing where they would be staying that night. Patterson, also a plaintiff in the case, told SFGATE he felt like he was being “treated like dogs”.

Complaint alleges that in the days after the catastrophic flooding, evacuees were left ‘dry’ when they sought help from Hines, and some ran out of credit cards and savings to survive . He also alleges that some residents were never reimbursed for their housing and were “on the verge of homelessness”.

Six weeks after the flood, Hines announced that the building would likely not be habitable until 2023 and that he would cease all financial assistance for housing displaced residents. “Due to the extended timeline for repair and re-occupation, we are unable to continue to provide such assistance,” read a letter sent to residents and seen by SFGATE. “Thus, as of August 17, 2022 at the end of the day, this assistance will end.”

Things went from bad to worse when, on August 10, a second major flood occurred from the same water main on the 35th floor, while some tenants were in the building collecting their belongings. of the first flood. A week later, video footage taken from residents’ security cameras reportedly showed contractors robbing empty apartments. A resident said checks were cashed from a checkbook left in her room.

It was later alleged that a city building inspector issued a notice of violation against Hines for attempting to fix the building’s pipes without a permit. Hines, however, told SFGATE via email that “all ongoing work is being done under a permit issued by the city.”

Image of flood damage inside 33 Tehama, San Francisco

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP

Image of flood damage inside 33 Tehama, San Francisco

Image of flood damage inside 33 Tehama, San Francisco

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP

“The tenants of 33 Tehama were promised ‘the best life in San Francisco,'” Nazy Fahimi, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told SFGATE via email Monday, “but instead of this, they faced a nightmare of utter uncertainty.”

The complaint alleges that Hines “not only acted negligently in maintaining the building, but also knew there was a problem before the June 2022 leak occurred and kept it hidden.”

Opened in 2018 as part of the Transbay development that includes the Salesforce Tower, the 35-story luxury residence offered coworking spaces, a game room, a high-end gym equipped with a spa and even a laundry service. optional butler called Hello Alfred who could take your clothes to the dry cleaners, walk your dog or order takeout. Although largely a luxury residence with one- and two-bedroom apartments that rent for between $3,500 and $16,000 per month, the property is also home to 54 below-market units. .

“33 Tehama is marketed as the epitome of luxury, but it’s more like a renter’s worst nightmare,” the lawsuit reads.

Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and punitive damages for emotional distress.

Hines denied the allegations. The company told SFGATE via email on Monday that since the flooding, it had paid for accommodation, parking, per diems and other expenses totaling about $13 million. They also shared the following statement.

“Since the water intrusion incident in June, our staff have worked around the clock to assist displaced residents with emergency and permanent resettlement options. We provided our residents with temporary housing and funds for personal expenses. We have also worked tirelessly to repair the building, engaging leading experts to identify and fix the building’s mechanical issues. We deny the allegations made in this complaint, and we believe that during the pre-trial discovery, the court and the public will understand the true extent of our efforts to help those who had to leave their homes during these unfortunate events and unforeseen.

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