A cunning politician can sell any story. But in the City of San Francisco v. Anne Kihagi, there is no denying that the City Attorney sold the public a bag of dirt when he claimed to be protecting the public from a black landlord, Anne Kihagi, who beautified her properties without getting permits for kitchen and bathroom remodels – for which she was penalized over $1.25 million and a nearly identical amount for the City Attorney’s legal fees, despite their salaries of one-fifth that amount.When the landlord cried foul and called out the selective enforcement in the city, the case turned into a thinly veiled vindictive message to a landlord from a powerful, unchecked City Attorney who went so far as to allow false information to be presented in the trial.
“The more secure an office holder, the more his interests would diverge from those of his constituents.” - Andrew Jackson
Has the San Francisco City Attorney, who has no term limits, turned his role into lifetime, professional career and failed to recognize his temporary privilege to serve the public?
The case has been polarizing, but it has also shed light on some of the dirty, unethical legal tricks behind winning political cases, as the City Attorney was not victorious until they displaced other judges in favor of Judge Angela Bradstreet. Think what you want, but after reading some of the rulings by Judge Bradstreet, you may arrive at a frightening conclusion. When Judge Bradstreet penalized the landlord $5,000 for 2 large men over 6’10” (that’s taller than most basket ball players!) and weighing over 250lbs, claiming they screamed at seeing their black landlord in their common area on a Sunday afternoon, something is wrong.
Fast forward: Judge Bradstreet awards millions more in penalties, and the appellate court rules on the assumption that, if there’s any small, remote, discernable basis for the judge’s ruling, they never touch the judgement – yes, even those 6’10” screaming men.
Time to pay the judgement. So, for the owner to pay the City the massive fines, Ms. Kihagi’s attorneys approached the City to call off their games, noting that tenants would have to be evicted to pay each ridiculous fine, as this was the only way Ms. Kihagi could afford it.
The City Attorney said they would not make ANY deal with Ms. Kihagi.
Now, the first seven tenants have been served with eviction notices so the units can be individually sold for ownership. This is the only way to get the maximum value for each building so that Ms. Kihagi can pay the out-of-control City.
More than 130 tenants, including the elderly, will be displaced to pay the City Attorney. Ms. Kihagi is saddened and looking for ways she can work with her tenants for solutions – including helping tenants become the individual buyers. In fact, her attorneys are talking to the City Attorney to see if he would hold off collection for a few more months so that Ms. Kihagi can work with the tenants to look for solutions. But, her attorneys are very skeptical the City Attorney will be interested.
So, in the end, who was really harmed? Maybe in the end, this was just more easy money for a corrupt city that has already stolen million-dollar properties from elderly owners and a $3 million building from a Castro man that could not afford $25k worth of repairs.
Until San Franciscans wake up and speak up, many landlords will soon be following Ms. Kihagi and taking their rentals off the market – and for a city with a staggering housing shortage, no one can afford to be silent.
For more information on Anna Kihagi & West 18th Properties, @annekihagi1http://annekihagisf.com/