City Attorney Investigates Alleged Violation of Rent Control Laws at Trinity Plaza

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced today that a newly-constructed residential development project in the city’s South of Market neighborhood appears to be unlawfully leasing out rent-controlled units to tourists on a short-term basis.

Herrera said an investigation by his office into the Trinity Place project at 1188 and 1190 Mission St. uncovered that at least 16 units designated as rent-controlled dwellings may have been leased to the same individual, who in turn appears to have been unlawfully using the units for short-term tourist accommodations.

Another seven units at Trinity Place, not subject to rent-control but required for use as residential housing, appear to have been similarly leased to that same person for concurrent and overlapping periods and also rented to tourists for short-term stays, according to Herrera.

Herrera notes that some of Trinity Place’s 1,900 dwellings have been marketed for transient occupancy as “The SOMA Suites Hotel,” an unincorporated and apparently unregistered entity.

In a letter delivered Wednesday to Trinity Place developer Angelo Sangiacomo and counsel, Herrera urged him to “take immediate steps to remedy any wrongdoing that denied San Franciscans the full scope of public benefits that you committed to make available as part of your binding agreement with the City authorizing you to proceed with your major redevelopment of the properties.”

According to the investigation by the city attorney’s office, the 16 rent-controlled units were registered to “resident” Catherine Zhang or to her and her guarantor, Lumi Worldwide.

In the letter to Sangiacomo and counsel, Herrera’s office specifically requested documents, contracts, leases and other information containing the details of financial relationships among Sangiacomo’s business interests and individuals and companies identified in the city attorney’s investigation into the apparent violations.

Herrera said he hopes that the violations that may have occurred will be remedied and “restore the good faith and trust that made this project possible.”

In newspaper articles dating back to the 1970s, Sangiacomo is referred to as the “Father of Rent Control” for steep rent increases that put him at odds with City Hall.

Neither Sangiacomo nor Trinity Management Services were immediately available for comment this afternoon.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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