As previously reported, City Attorney and mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera recently settled with six different smoke shops for allegedly selling crack pipes and paraphernalia, a violation of California Health and Safety Codes. Those stores, mostly in the Mission, were fined between $5,000 and $11,000 dollars, among other penalties.But though the battle between Herrera and the smoke shops appears to be over, the aspiring mayor is taking on a new target in his fight against crack pipes: their landlords.
“Mission Gifts and Tobacco” at 4784 Mission and “Rock On” at 4447 Mission St. were fined the most ($11,000). “The Platinum” at 5901 Mission St, “House of Cigarettes” at 912 Geneva Ave, and “Tobacco Plaza Center Smoke and Gift Shop” at 3008 16th St. were each fined $5,000, after a February suit filed by the City Attorney’s office saying the stores had violated California Health and Safety Code section 11364.7 by selling crack and meth pipes that were marketed as vases. Those vases would come with accessories such as copper mesh, or “screens,” which most flowers really don’t need.
“The difference in the penalty amounts is based on what the City’s investigation found to be aggravating factors,” Herrera’s office said in a statement this past June. “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.”
The settlement comes with a five-year injunction against each shop, barring them from selling the previously aforementioned paraphernalia, and forcing them to surrender what they have of it to SFPD within 24 hours. 80% of their storefront windows and doors must also be kept clear at all times, while legal tobacco paraphernalia must be hidden in a section unavailable to minors.
But as the Chron reports, Herrera isn’t done with these cases quite yet — three of the landlords for those shops are also being sued by his office.
One landlord has already settled, paying a penalty and agreeing to an additional injunction. The owner of the building at 4784 Mission housing “Mission Gifts,” said he couldn’t be sure his tenant would follow the rules, and has opted not to renew the businesses’ lease.
Fulvio Miranda, the owner of the building at 5901 Mission St that is home to “The Platinum,” is fighting City Hall, however. The Chron reports that SFPD informed Miranda last year of his tenant’s shenanigans, and though Miranda asked the shopowner to stop selling crack pipes, “I am a small landlord. He has a license for selling certain things, and I have no control over it.”
Deputy City Attorney Jana Clark tells the Chron, however, that “property owners are legally liable for their tenants’ actions when they have the knowledge of and the ability to control a situation.”
Miranda, who is representing himself, faces at least $1000 in fines should the crack pipe sales continue. His trial is scheduled for March.