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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Berkeley Farms Milk Building GONE!

Got Milk
A Department of Building Inspection permit (#20120091608) was taken out on October 11 to partially remove the decaying Berkeley Farms Milk warehouse at 2065 Oakdale Ave, but leave the existing main building intact.  Technically, under the Planning Department rules, a demolition of a building requires the use of a FORM 6 application, with attendant additional requirements under BAAQMD,etc. see below, yet, since the property is ZONED PDR-1B (Production, Distribution, Repair 1(use) B (buffer zone), there are no notification requirements to the nearby residential owners. Such notices are generally known as '311' notices.  This application did not use the word 'demolition', and instead utilized a FORM 8 - an 'alteration' permit, similar to that used when you remodel a bathroom or kitchen, or build and addition to a home or commercial structure. However, if you go by there today, you'll see that this "partial" demolition is in fact a "complete" demolition of two entire buildings on the site, with not even the foundation remaining. There are two 'remaining' structures, which are significant in size, but the two aforementioned demolished buildings were completely removed.

For the record, a full demolition has far stricter permitting rules than does a partial demolition as noted.  Of course, if an owner such as this property's Jack Tseng wanted to skirt those additional permit requirements, all he'd have to say at the Planning Department desk is that he was doing a partial 'removal' and then just hope that no one would notice that two entire buildings were gone when he was done.  Given the current state of affairs in the Bayview, he may just have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for some diligent, observant, and well-connected Bayview residents who are fed up with these kinds of shenanigans.  If they have their way, at the very least he'll be paying some hefty fines for:
  • No permits affixed to the building prior to or during demolition 
  • Violation of the 15-day automatic hold prior to beginning work (required for full demo, or, alternately notice of appeal posting on 'alterations'). Essentially, you can't have it both ways by calling a demo a 'removal'  or calling an alteration a 'demo', if you read between the lines here. 
  • No sidewalk encroachment permit filed, though 100% of the 100' long sidewalk in front of the address was blocked by trash cans and caution tape for five days during the demolition
  • No street use permit filed, despite trucks on-site and taking up street space.  The same street (a portion of Oakdale Ave.) should have been reserved to allow the pedestrian use to flow as the 'sidewalk encroachment' was activated. Neither was used or filed.
  • No (required) Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) permit filed for demolition (a garden hose was used to keep dust down and a 'LEAF BLOWER' was used to push the dirt into piles) - see attached photographs taken Tuesday at 6pm, six days after the work began on this site and after multiple complaints had been filed.

With Redevelopment gone and no Project Area Committee to offer local oversight of or challenges to projects like this, the Bayview is like "the wild west" when it comes to land use issues.

Supervisor Cohen is aware of the situation, as are DBI and DPW department heads, but this kind of BS happens way too frequently in the Bayview, and it's going to stop!
Supervisor Cohen writes,
It was brought to my attention late last week by neighbors that demolition work was taking place at 2065 Oakdale and that no neighborhood notification had taken place. After repeated daily conversations with the Department of Building Inspection and the Planning Department, I discovered, much to my surprise that their are no notification requirements for work like this in the PDR-1B neighborhood unless it is associated with a Conditional Use or other Planning Commission approval. Additionally, because the contractor proposed only removing portions of the buildings on the property it was not considered a "demolition" under the code. As a result of this I have taken a number of steps to ensure compliance with local regulations on this site and that any violations are documented and cited appropriately. Furthermore, at yesterday's Board of Supervisors Meeting, I announced my intention to draft legislation to add appropriate neighborhood notification requirements to building and construction permits issued in the PDR1-B area to ensure that our adjacent residential neighborhoods are notified, and have the opportunity to engage departments and the contractor on any work being done in these areas.
As a result of our active neighbors and our constant communication with departments, inspectors from the Department of Building Inspection were on site on Friday and again yesterday interacting with the contractor. I also submitted complaints and photos to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District who are currently investigating the scope of the permit they issued the contractor and whether the contractor complied with that permit scope and properly mitigated any of their construction dust. Additionally, the contractor has been fined thousands of dollars by the Department of Public Works for blocking the sidewalk during construction and for not having completed site inspections associated with their street use permit prior to beginning construction work.
I will continue to work with departments and regional agencies to ensure that they are addressing these issues appropriately and look froward to working with neighbors and the City Attorney's Office to get additional legislative notification requirements in place as fast as possible so that we do not experience another incident like this one again.
Thank you Supervisor Cohen and the active neighbors who brought this to your attention!

Oh, and if someone has a cool $4M, they can buy the property:

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