819 Ellis Street

Taking full advantage of the current housing and hotel crunch in San Francisco, the third floor of the parking garage at 819 Ellis Street has been converted into the “American International Hostel,” the operators of which have been advertising beds for rent on a nightly basis on VRBO.

Unfortunately for the operators, and perhaps some tenants, a tourist hotel, which San Francisco’s Planning Code still defines as accommodations for less than 32 consecutive days, isn’t permitted at the location without prior authorization and permitting.

And while the operators have filed an application to legalize the “hotel,” in the words of San Francisco’s Planning Department, “the plans submitted as part of the building permit application are incomplete, and fail to demonstrate how the third floor of an automobile parking garage can be converted into a tourist hotel that meets all applicable city codes and regulations.”

Ordered to immediately cease operations in October, the order was appealed, the hostel continues to operate, and San Francisco’s Board of Appeals is slated to issue a ruling this week.

As an aside, the parking garage is currently on the market for $7,950,000, having been reduced from $8,499,000, and the Polk Gulch parcel at 819 Ellis is zoned for development up to 130-feet in height.

10 thoughts on “Welcome To San Francisco, Enjoy Your Stay. In A Parking Garage.”
  1. when i was a youth i had a spell of overnights at a virtually abandoned warehouse on Belcher; i had was a key to the front door and a matress upstairs, in a space partitioned off with stageset paintings (blue bulbs overhead) and i oft had a grand time! this was free, but the times, they changed.

  2. How, in the name of public safety, can a use that’s been denied be allowed to continue while that denial is subject to appeal? That’s insane. Unsafe and unsanitary is unsafe and unsanitary, no matter how many lawyers you throw at it.

      1. Chris’s answer below makes more sense. You can’t just do anything you want until you appeal up to the Supreme Court – if you’re running a dogfighting ring, or an un-permitted landfill, for instance, you can’t just keep doing that while you appeal fines. So I was confused how this got to continue to be used; but Chris makes clear that while the use is non-conforming, there’s (not yet) been a finding of H&S violations.

    1. It is likely allowed to remain open pending appeal becuase there has been no emergency determination of a violation of the health and safety codes. In other worlds, it may not be up to code, but there may not be any immediate serious threat to anyone’s health or safety. Yes, if it were deemed a fire hazard, it could be closed quickly. Since this matter involves a property right, there has to be a right to some sort of appeal, and there cannot be an immediate closure absent some sort of immediate health or safety concern.

  3. If they set this up with a bunch of restored Volkswagen vans that served as your “room” for the night it would be kind of cool.

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