517-519 Sanchez Street

The City of San Francisco has filed suit against the owner of the Castro District duplex at 517-519 Sanchez Street, a property which has been raided numerous times over the past five years, yielding large quantities of crystal meth, heroin, ketamine, cocaine and cash, and most recently resulting in the arrest of the property owner and several tenants.

No word on whether any crack was ever discovered on-site, other than via Google Street View.

517-519 Sanchez: Google Street View

In addition to suing for up to $25,000 in civil penalties for violations of California’s Drug Abatement Act, the meat of the City’s suit charges ongoing habitability and safety issues with the property – such as a defective exterior staircase and a lack of stairway handrails; missing smoke detectors and improper electrical wiring; unpermitted construction work; and a lack of heat – for which the defendant faces civil penalties of up to $1,500 for each day that the Housing and Building Code violations have been allowed to persist.

And if successful, the City’s suit could force the defendant to shutter the property, which he purchased in 1995, for a year.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Maya

    ‘Shutter the building’ meaning what? This isn’t very clear, and implies two scenarios that sound equally implausible.

    Is the building owner occupied? It’s a duplex, so doesn’t seem likely… but if that’s the case, an owner can be evicted for a year for failing to provide adequate heating to himself in a 120-year-old building that has probably never had it?

    Or is it tenant occupied, meaning that an owner can effectively oust a tenant by way of neglecting maintenance?

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      I’m going out on a limb here, but I would surmise that the “shuttering” might flow not from the heating problems but from this:

      “property which has been raided numerous times over the past five years, yielding large quantities of crystal meth, heroin, ketamine, cocaine and cash, and most recently resulting in the arrest of the property owner and several tenants.”

    • Posted by SocketSite

      The duplex appears to be both tenant and owner occupied. And while it might sound implausible, by ‘shutter’ we mean ‘shutter,’ exactly as reported above. Or in the actual legalese, “perpetually enjoined by an order of [the] Court to close the Property for one year.”

  2. Posted by Serge

    At first I thought that this might be a good deal if you were to buy it from the owner (given that they are in a distressed situation). Then I realized that there might be people coming by to ask where their money and/or drugs are. Not to mention you’ll probably find a hoard of cocaine in the walls while doing improvement, or worse, a body in the basement.

    • Posted by Some Guy

      If meth was cooked there much, there could be far worse problems than just a little snow hidden in some walls. Meth labs often leave behind an assortment of toxic contams that can cost mid 5 figures or more to clean up, with the property red-tagged until remediation is complete. Caveat emptor.

  3. Posted by faceword

    According Redfin, this property was listed in July 2013 (but not sold). Does anyone know what the list price was at that time?

  4. Posted by Notcom

    “No word on whether any crack was ever discovered on-site”

    HE, HE, HE

    Now when are they going to abate the neighboring house for that horrid lavender paint scheme.

  5. Posted by Jimmy The House Flipper

    I owned a meth house once. The clean up process was, shall we say, annoying and expensive. That’s putting it mildly. Thanks to the hot market, I still made money… just a heck of a lot less. On the plus side, the new buyers knew there was no meth there lol

    I’ll pay 500 grand, cash on the barrel.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      I’m curious of the chemicals involved in the contamination and what was required to clean up. Does the contamination occur because the meth cookers dump the liquid waste products on-site? Or are the toxins so nasty that just the vapors from cooking meth contaminate the site?

      I watched a house that I suspected of nefarious doings get razed, and then the footprint of the house was sealed with some sort of a gray cement slurry. Wondering if that was a mitigation for contamination.

      • Posted by SFCitizen

        I found a PDF on the EPA website related to meth lab contamination.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          Thanks for that doc. Most of the doc is written for the layman and is basically “do you think it touched Chemmy calls? Then get rid of that stuff!”

          The answers to which chemicals and how are buried pretty deep. Most contamination comes from spills and very little “vapor deposition”. The main chemicals quoted are VOCs: “acetone, benzene, ether, freon, hexane, isopropanol, methanol, toluene, Coleman fuel, naphtha, ronsonol and xylene”. Then there’s Lead, Mercury and Asbestos. More sophisticated labs have other stuff. Almost all of the contamination comes from direct contact with the chemicals including waste dumps into the sewer and soil.

          This really isn’t much different from the risks of a bootleg plastics, metal parts cleaning, or auto body painting business.

  6. Posted by BobN

    So, does this mean that on-going incompetence in drug prosecution (how else could the place be raided repeatedly over five years and still have perps causing trouble?) is solved by going after the lack of stair rails on Victorians?

    • Posted by kbbl

      It sounds so Al Capone-esque.

    • Posted by Blight

      I had the same thought. Was the owner of the house ever prosecuted criminally?

  7. Posted by incline jj

    According Redfin, this property was listed in July 2013 (but not sold). Does anyone know what the list price was at that time?


    • Posted by faceword

      Thank you, incline jj.

  8. Posted by Charlie in SF

    Great start. They have a few more in the Castro to go.

  9. Posted by Oh Dear

    and i thought this was a tolerant city?

  10. Posted by Mark F.

    Walter White would have been more discreet.

  11. Posted by Mule

    dang it… now I’ll have to go all the way down to 6th Street What ever happened to “Shop Local”

    • Posted by Brian M

      Or the new emphasis on preserving PDR/Made in San Francisco?

  12. Posted by incline jj

    Actually nothing comes up as 517 Sanchez. You have to look under 519 Sanchez.

    Possibly it could have been a sfr at one time and they turned it into a legal duplex?

  13. Posted by SF_Landlord

    That’s a way to devalue a property

  14. Posted by Barry Rubble

    Anybody familiar with the term ‘career tenant’?

  15. Posted by Joshua Smith

    Seems outlandish to accuse the owner and to label it a ‘drug den.’ Trying to deface someone during hard times to force them out is a more likely reason.

  16. Posted by Richie

    I am amazed how creative people can be, the being judgmental part is expected though. Instead of correcting and informing you all about the facts surrounding 517/519 Sanchez Street (where I lived from early2010-mid2012) I will say to 80%+ of you commenters, think before you post and really it’s only yourself you happen to be impressing when you share your thoughts.

  17. Posted by Castrolicious

    From the SF Dept. of Bldg. Inspection website (albeit back in 2013):

    “Broken windows in the bedroom, dining room and kitchen – The flat below (517 Sanchez) has broken windows – No heat in the house – No lock at the back of the house – The front door has no hand set – No handrail in the front of the house – No access to a garbage dispose area – No lock on two exterior doors (garage and backdoor) – peeling paint on the exterior – work being done without permits and past 5pm – No egress on second floor – Tenants door was made of a old cabinet door”

    Sounds pretty cracky to me…

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