Having secured a permit to simply conduct an “exploratory demo to determine sheetrock and termite damage,” the new owner of the Bernal Heights home at 310 Moncalm Street, which was purchased for $925,000 in November of 2015, began a full remodel and expansion of the property.

Flagged by neighbors for having slightly exceeded the scope of the approved “exploratory” building permit, the owner subsequently requested a permit to move walls, remodel the home’s kitchen and baths, add new bedrooms and baths, and construct new “dormers” atop the existing home, an over the counter permit which was approved in April of 2016.

Subsequently flagged for exceeding the scope of the expanded permit, which didn’t permit major exterior alterations or a vertical expansion, a site visit by Planning last year confirmed that the new dormers were “larger than originally proposed and there is [a] new massing that is not clearly depicted in the approved set of plans at the roof level,” after which all permits were suspended, a Notice of Violation was issued and a penalty “totaling $10,000 plus staff time and materials” was assessed (but not collected).

Tomorrow San Francisco’s Planning Commission could approve a re-start of the project, which would require the removal of an unpermitted rear addition, a reduction of the illegally constructed dormers and a restoration of the home’s primary façade.

And yes, this is one of the seven homes identified in the City’s action against Ashok Gujral, a local real estate developer and investor accused of routinely engaging in under-permitted construction on residential properties throughout San Francisco.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Torger Cobus

    Planning did not require a Supplemental Information for Historic Resource Evaluation?

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      That’s going to be part of this, guaranteed.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        That’s incorrect. Per the City, “no evaluation of the historic status of the building was required” and the Residential Design Advisory Team found that “the proposed scope of work was fully in conformance with the Residential Design Guidelines and the Bernal Heights East Slope Building Guidelines.”

        • Posted by Ohlone Californio

          So the city deferred to the local design group which didn’t ask for that. Odd. Well, OK then. I stand corrected.

          • Posted by Athena

            The planning department ordered that everything that was built off permit – basically everything Ashok Gujral did at this house – had to be removed. The house has to be returned to its original footprint. This is due to the multiple permit violations and abatement orders which began from the moment the developer bought the house.

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            I understand that. What I don’t get is why something obviously over 50 years old did not have to have a historic resource study. I thought that was a given.

  2. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Good grief, what an amateur. You’re supposed to jack the home off of the foundation and then let it “accidentally” collapse to get your demo permit.

    • Posted by frozentoast

      Lol. Or tear it down the Friday before a long weekend and say it was all dry rot and there was no other choice

      • Posted by Amewsed

        Or just let it precariously lean towards the neighbors’s house and let them help you demo it for free.

        Always learn from the pros on how to do it right!

        • Posted by SocketSite

          As a matter of fact, the owner of 310 Montcalm is being sued by said neighborhoods as the work to date appears to have damaged their foundations.

      • Posted by Oh My

        Or when it catches fire while using electric equipment with faulty wiring.

        • Posted by sfdragonboy

          The fire could have come from those darn illegal Fourth Of July fireworks…. Bad, bad kids!!!

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Well, first you donate lots of money to various candidates to get on city commissions.

      THEN you let the place accidentally collapse. On accident.

  3. Posted by Brisket

    Such a subtle expansion, how did they neighbors even notice.

  4. Posted by SFMichael

    Why would The City even consider issuing a new permit prior to the existing fines actually being paid? That’s poor use of leverage, that is.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Unfounded guess: are they using a permit expediter who is a former Planning employee?

    • Posted by kbbl

      What this guy did was dumb on multiple levels, but I’d really prefer DBI employees keep working on improving efficiency over “leverage.” Juggling decades of records is hard enough without turning counter employees into magistrates.

      • Posted by SFMichael

        Perhaps, but what’s the point of requiring permits at all or issuing fines if you’re not going to enforce the fines or penalize someone for ignoring the limits of a permit beyond ‘We caught you! Now you have to go on time-out for six months before you can start up again.’?

  5. Posted by RDMINSEA

    Looked like a pretty good $10,000 gamble.

  6. Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

    Why would we clean up poop on Market Street when we can focus on shrinking dormers by 8”? I mean, walking over spent needle isn’t half the quality-of-life issue that a an excessively-sized dormer, right?

    • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

      Because if we overlook the actions of greedhead flippers, then we’ll encourage more of the scofflaw behavior, then that attracts more people from out of the area who are hell bent at making money at any cost, regardless of what the law says, who do even more illegal work.

      And this does not prevent us from cleaning up human waste on Market St. or collecting the discarded needles from drug addicts; those tasks are the responsibilities of agencies other than those enforcing the building code.

      • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

        Why aren’t the needles and poop cleaned up? More pressing business?

        Before, this was a small home. Apparently now it’s a small home with some dormers. Show me a victim and I’ll grant you a crime.

        • Posted by Athena

          Try reading the materials in support of discretionary review.

          • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

            I didn’t see any dormer victims.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      We could do both. Lord knows the city has plenty of money.

    • Posted by Mystery Realtor

      The two are not mutually exclusive

    • Posted by Stop Driving

      Non sequitur. By your logic, we shouldn’t have any standards whatsoever.

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