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8499 Views 25 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2014 10:28 PM by sfvacationhut RSS
sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
Dec 31, 2010
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Apr 28, 2011 12:57 PM

Have you received a violation letter from the Planning Dept?

I recently heard about someone who has a guest apartment in San Francisco.

Someone complained about the guest apartment, and this person received a letter from Adrian Koutre (sp?) in the San Francisco Planning Department, assessing a fine of something like $3000 for violation of the Planning Codes.


Has anyone else received a letter like this?


If so, how did you handle it?


What can we do to make sure that our vacation rentals are operating legally in San Francisco?

    • New Member 5 posts since
      Feb 15, 2012

      I unfortunately got a letter from the Planning Department from Adrian Putra. 


      Here are the code violations and details!


      It stated that:




      Planning Code Section 176

      January 10th 2012

      RH-2, (Two-Family Residential House)

      Code Violation:  209.2(d): Other Housing (Short-Terni Vacation Rental Use for Transient Guests)

      Up to $250 Each Day of Violation

      Adrian C. Putra, (475) 575-9079 ot adrian.putra@sfgov,org

      Samuel D, Siegel (415) 575-9157 or samuel;

      1650 Mission St.

      Suite 400

      SaB Francisco,


      The Planning Department has received a complaint that a Planning Code violation exists on your above

      referenced property that needs to be resolved. As the owner and leaseholder of the subject property, you

      are a responsible party. The purpose of this notice is to inform you about the Planning Code Enforcement

      process so you can take appropdate action to bring your property in compliance with Planning Code.

      The details of violation are discussed below:-


      Our records indicate that the authorized use of  2350 Pine St. (I changed the address) is as a residential dwelling unit. The

      complaint alleges that 2350 Pine Street located on the subject lot is operating as a commercial short

      term vacation rental. Our research identified the properry as advertised on

      associated with an Airbnb operator. Pursuant to Code Section 209.2 a short term

      vacation rental property providing accommodation for transient overnight guests is not permitted at the

      subiect property without conditional use approval.

      Pursuant to Planning Code Section 174, every conditiory stipulatiory special restrictiory and other

      limitation shall be complied with in the use of land and structures to the effect that the existing lawful use

      or proposed use of a structure or land conforms to the provisions of Planning Code. Failure to comply

      with any of these provisions constitutes a violation of Planning Code and is subject to enforcement

      process under Code Section 176.


      The Planning Department requires that you immediately discontinue the operation of an unauthorized

      commercial short term vacation rental at 2350 Pine Street.

      To prevent further enforcement action and avoid atcrual of penalties, the responsible party will need to

      provide adequate evidence to demonstrate that either no violation exists or that the violation has been



      The resoonsible oartv has fifteen {15) davs from the date of this notice to contact the staff olanner noted

      at the top of this notice and submit evidence to demonstrate that the subject property is in compliance

      with Planning Code. The abatement action shall be taken as early as possible; Any unreasonable delays

      in abatement of violation may result in further enforcement action by the Planning Department.


      Failure to respond to this notice by correcting the violatlon or demonstrating compliance with the

      Plannins Code within fifteen (15) days from the date of this notice will result in the issuance of Notice of Violation and Penalty by the Zoning Administrator. Adminishative penalties of up to $250 per day

      will also be assessed to the responsible party for each day the violation continues thereafter. The Notice

      of Violation and Penalty provides appeals processes noted below.

      1) Request for Zoning Administrator Hearing. The Zoning Administratoy's decision is aPPealable to

      the Board of Appeals.

      2) Appeal of the Notice of Violation and Penalty to the Board of Appeals. The Board of Appeals may

      not reduce the amount of penalty below $100 per day for each day the violation exists, excluding

      the period of time the matter has been pending either before the Zoning Administrator or before

      the Board of Appeals.


      Pursuart to Planning Code Section 350(c)(1), the Planning f)ePartment shall charge for 'Time and

      Materials' to recover the cost. of correcting Planning Code violations and violations of Planning

      Commission and Plarming Department's Conditions of Approval. Accoidingly, the responsible party

      will be subject to an amount of $1130 plus any additional accrued time and materials cost for Code

      Enforcement investigation and abatement of violation. This fee is separate fuom the administrative

      penalties as noted above and is not appealable.



      The Planning Department requires that any pending violations be resolved prior to the approval and

      ' issuance of any new applications that you may wish to pursue in the future. Therefore, any applications

      not related to the abatement of violation on the subject property will be placed on hold until further

      notice. We want to assist you in ensuring that the subject property is in full compliance with the Planning

      Code. You may contact the enforcement planner as noted above for any questions.




      Does anyone know what to do with that?

      Is it "illegal" to rent a house short term?   What if you pay the hotel tax to the City, does it make it ok?





      • New Member 5 posts since
        Jan 25, 2012

        Hi Paul,


        First, I very highly suggest paying all applicable taxes.  The revenue stream the city realizes from your tax contributions makes it much harder for the city to ban stuff like this, particularly given the sorry state of the city's coffers.


        Second, I know you mention that you are in an Rh-2 zone, but what kind of building do you own?  Are they apartments or condos?  Is it a single family house with an inlaw?  How kany units total? This information really helps us help you.


        As far as i can interpret, the ban largely affects only apartment buildings with more than 4 units.  Do you have any long term renters in your builiding?


        From the code -



        Section 41A.5 "(a) Unlawful Actions. It shall be unlawful for any owner to offer an apartment unit for rent for tourist or transient use."


        Section 41A.4 "(a) Apartment Unit. Room or rooms in any building, or portion thereof, which is designed,   built, rented, leased, let or hired out to be occupied, or which is  occupied as the home or residence of four or more households living  independently of each other in dwelling units as defined in the San  Francisco Housing Code...."


        Section 41A.4 "(c) Tourist or Transient Use. Use of an apartment unit for occupancy on less than a 30-day term of tenancy."

        • New Member 5 posts since
          Feb 15, 2012

          Hello Russian Hill,


          Well, the notice was for a single family home.  Nice home in an upscale neighborhood.  A neighbor might have complained

          However, I have two small apt buildings with 4 and 9 apts that I also use as vacation rentals.  Each has two long term tenants (that I am in great terms with) and the rest is for vacation rentals.  I only got the "Putra" letter for the single family home and hopefully will not for the other two buildings.


          If I pay the taxes (which I haven't done yet.  I only started this a year ago), will I be legal?


          What would you do if you were me? 

          1) Ignore the notice further (I sent Putra a certified letter saying that I am not renting for less than 30 days and that I strongly deny the violation.  No news since and it's been 2 months)

          2) Pay taxes and be good with one dept (tax collector) of the SF City as insurance in case the other (Planing dept) comes after me.





          • New Member 5 posts since
            Jan 25, 2012

            Hi sfrentals,


            If I were you I would definitely pay your taxes.  That gives a little something to stand on. It would be interesting to see what others like noeplace and sfvacahut have to say ....

            • New Member 5 posts since
              Feb 15, 2012

              Hello SFvacationhut,


              I don't know if a "conditional use approval" is even possible in my case.  It's a single family home in an upscale neighborhood and I'm sure my neighbors would object if they had a say in the process.

              In the mean time, I took the house off the market, but still have 6 apts in two other buildings on vacation rentals.  Im afraid I'll get the same notice for them.  If it is just a matter of paying taxes to the City, I'd be happy to get "approved" and keep the business running smoothly.

              I heard that the vacation rental biz is illegal for one branch of the City and only tolerated by another if you pay taxes.

              Do you know anything else to help us get peace of mind?

                • New Member 16 posts since
                  Feb 26, 2011

                  I would add to this discussion another important arguement in favor of vacation rentals - most vacation rentals in SF are locally-owned.  This contrasts with most hotel rooms, which are owned by big corporations located in other cities and countries.  Thus, the profits from vacation rentals in the City stays in the City to a much larger extent than it does with hotel chains.  Moreover, it supports "mom and pop" property owners as compared with big, impersonal corporations.

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