Two guards today called for a city attorney to investigate allegations made in a story from the Saturday mission on the ground. That story documented a number of permit irregularities both in the house and on land of Angus McCarthy, longtime President of the Building Inspection Commission that oversees the Building Inspectorate.
The Saturday Mission Local article also documented McCarthy’s testimony in a September 20 affidavit confirming that he had sent material written by Department of Building Inspection staff to his private builders at the Residential Builders Association for editing and revision .
Today’s formal request from Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Aaron Peskin calls on the City Attorney to “investigate and report allegations and inappropriateness and potential conflicts of interest of the Building Inspectorate President Angus McCarthy, as reported on Mission Local on September 25, 2021. ”
Ronen, Peskin and Supervisor Myrna Melgar also said they will work towards the June 2022 vote to establish an act to reverse Proposition G of 1994, which created the Department of Building Inspection in its current version.
“It is becoming clearer day by day that the DBI is a fundamentally broken institution that needs fundamental changes,” Ronen told Mission Local.
She and her colleagues are considering several possible large-scale changes in the department that they should propose to voters over the next year. It could be merged with other departments and / or reported to the city administrator. Ronen hoped for “supervision by a department that is not quite as familiar with the industry it is supposed to regulate”.
McCarthy is currently in Ireland taking care of his sick mother. Last week he did not respond to Mission Local’s inquiries that we put in writing at his request; our story ran after he gave him 48 hours. On Monday evening he sent a letter, co-authored with his lawyer Andrew Wiegel, to the members of the board of directors, in which he countered the allegations in the Mission Local article and welcomed an investigation.
The counter letter is a fascinating document and raises many questions.
It does not explain why a permit applied for in 2007 to convert a crawl space into a wine room and exercise room did not receive an examination and to this day no final permit – although the whole building in 2009 received final approval. It doesn’t explain why this building was listed as “three-story, no basement” on the 2005 building permit and as “three-story, no basement” on the 2009 certificate of completion – but the 2007 permit listed it as “two story,” a basement . ”
“This may have been a clerical oversight of the district inspector’s housekeeping at the time of the final inspection, Mr. Bernie Curran,” wrote McCarthy, “but the oversight escaped my attention.”
McCarthy says his permit to “convert the crawl space under the building into a wine room and fitness room” did not require additional excavation. But this is a curious claim, semantically and otherwise: when you’re converting a crawl space – which, by definition, doesn’t have enough headroom to be a habitable space – into a habitable space, it’s hard to imagine a scenario that doesn’t require it Excavation.
There is one: the excavation was previously carried out without a permit.
McCarthy denied this under direct questioning in an affidavit dated September 20, which was linked to the ongoing lawsuit by former planning officer Dennis Richards against the city. But he agreed that the basement room was built at the same time as the rest of the building – which doesn’t fit so easily with the admitting history of this building.
Rather than digging or doing additional foundation work, McCarthy wrote that all he had to do was “paint the shortrock and the walls and lay the finished flooring.” This would help explain the small $ 25,000 cost associated with this project.
But this explanation is difficult to understand. On the one hand, the approval from 2007 is adorned with the stamp “State work safety permit”, in which it is noted that “the construction of trenches or excavations that are 1.5 meters or deeper and into which a person has to descend” is part of this Project are.
Special private inspections hired for this project, including “Cast-In Bolts”, “Reinforcing Steel”, and “Holdowns” correspond to foundation work – not rock slabs and paint.
Ryan Engineering, an excavation specialist, was also selected as the contractor for this project. Looking at Ryan’s qualifications on the state licensing page, this seems like an excellent choice for heavy digging. It is unclear whether Ryan, who does not have a Class B general contractor license, is even licensed to manufacture rock slabs.
Mission Local noted in its story on Saturday that a permit issued by the Ministry of Public Works prior to the completion of the building was not included on any of the work cards open to the public, was not included in the DPW system and a DPW inspector told us that no on-site inspections were recorded prior to 2011 – and this building was signed off in 2009.
McCarthy submitted an inspection report in his rebuttal letter showing that a DPW signature was received in 2008 – although Public Works also informed Mission Local that this was not recorded in their computer system.
However, this inspection report raises further questions: There is no sign-off for “OK to Pour”. There is also no approval for insulation or sewer inspections. And the page of notes, which records the inspectors’ observations and criticisms, was not included in McCarthy’s rebuttal.
With regard to an investment property on 23rd Street McCarthy sold in 2017, he explains Curran’s appearance to sign off the project and clear up complaints as a coincidence. “Mr. Curran showed up for the second inspection request. I think Mr. Curran was the senior for that district and must have represented the district inspector. “
Curran is currently facing federal bribery charges. And senior inspectors are not supposed to represent their district inspectors – and rarely do. In fact, Curran’s own propensity for inappropriately bypassing inspections led to a Department of Building Inspection policy in 2014 detailing what should happen if a district inspector cannot accept a job. Senior Building Inspectors are the No. 7 option.
Curran, who happens to appear several times on site, would be a statistical curiosity.
Finally, McCarthy downplays the matter of a letter he officially sent to the then building authority director Tom Hui in his official capacity as President of the Building Inspection Commission. This letter was written by the Department of Building Inspection at McCarthy’s request – but he also mailed it to his colleagues at the Residential Builders Association, Sean Keighran and John O’Connor, for editing and revision. McCarthy said during the testimony that he had not informed the DBI of this.
In his refutation, he describes the letter as a personal letter that has been revised by a “leader of the construction industry” and “not DBI material as stated in the article”.
The letter was signed “Angus McCarthy, Commission President” and was rewritten by Department of Building Inspection staff before being processed by private builders whose work is controlled by the Department of Building Inspection.
When asked about the acceptability of this process, a DBI spokesman said that “city departments and commissioners may seek feedback from stakeholders”.