San Francisco Techie Pods That Went Viral Violate Constructing Code

The $700-a-month Mint Plaza Pods downtown, currently occupied by a group of AI founders, techies and other budget-conscious tenants, appear to violate San Francisco's building code on several counts.

A week after proceedings were opened against the company, the Mint Plaza capsule hotel received a summons from the building inspection authority on Tuesday.

The installation of the sleeping pods on the top floor of the building violates building codes as it is “an illegal change” from a commercial and office building with a maximum capacity of 50 people to a residential building. The building was previously a location of the San Francisco Fire Credit Union.

Inspectors also found that a bathroom in the basement had been converted from a toilet to a shower stall – another violation.

In addition, the Mint Plaza complex violated a safety clause in the city's building code, requiring a key to exit the front door of the condominium, which city inspectors said poses “a life safety risk.”

Brownstone Shared Housing, which manages the facility, or owner Elsey Partners must file a change of use permit, building permit and plumbing permit to ensure the pods and converted shower are above ground. Alternatively, the pods can be removed and the shower converted back to a toilet.

To comply, the lock must be replaced within five days with one that does not require a key to open, the permit must be submitted within 30 days, and all work to correct the violations must be completed within 90 days. If the problems are not corrected, fines that increase over time may be imposed in addition to an existing fine based on the amount of work done without a permit.

Last year, Palo Alto authorities issued citations to a similar housing complex operated by Brownstone. In a recent interview with the Mountain View Voice, Brownstone co-founders Christina Lennox and James Stallworth said they had corrected the violations and expected city action against their unit.

“We're not trying to break any laws or anything like that,” Stallworth said. “We're just trying to give people a home.”

A representative for Brownstone did not respond to a request for comment.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the nature of the violations cited against the building.

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