After a month of unsuccessful attempts to secure the cooperation of developer Angelo Sangiacomo, City Attorney Dennis Herrera has just issued subpoenas for documents and information relating to the investigation into the likely illegal use of 23 Trinity Place apartments, including 16 rent-controlled units, as short-term rentals in San Francisco.
According to evidence so far established in the City Attorney investigation, Trinity Management Services entered into leases with Catherine Zhang and her company, LUMI Worldwide, for 16 apartments, each subject to rent-control, and each exclusively intended for residential occupancy. Apart from recognizing the obvious — that a single individual can’t simultaneously reside in 16 apartments — Trinity’s management knew that Zhang was subleasing the rent-controlled units, according to Herrera, in apparent violation of its own lease provisions expressly forbidding subletting, and its development agreement with the city. The arrangement may also violate state and local law.
Apart from the 16 rent-controlled apartments at 1188 Mission Street (where “The SOMA Suites Hotel” is located, according to its marketing content), another seven Trinity Place apartments at neighboring 1190 Mission Street were also leased to Zhang for concurrent and overlapping periods. Evidence indicates that Zhang similarly subleased those apartments to tourists for short-term stays. Although none of the apartments at 1190 Mission Street is subject to rent-control, the use of dwellings in both buildings is restricted to residential housing under terms of the 2007 development agreement and related City approvals.
According to Herrera’s office, repeated requests for cooperation have been met with “obfuscation and deflection of responsibility.” And in addition to compelling evidence from Sangiacomo and Trinity, administrative subpoenas for Zhang and LUMI Worldwide have just been issued as well.