Arts and Entertainment
By Pauli Wai
It's karma with a vengeance. Vijay Patel, the owner of West Cork Hotel, thought he could make a killing by converting his crumbling single-room-occupancy hotel into a tourist trap (see "Heartbreak Hotels," 10/17/01). Instead, 88 poor San Franciscans may soon be able to move into a residential hotel complete with private bathrooms, a snazzy lobby, and an indoor pool.
Patel's plans were foiled Jan. 9 when the Board of Appeals voted 3-2 to uphold the zoning administrator's finding that the building had to be used as permanent housing because it had been abandoned for years.
According to Sam Dodge of the Central City SRO Collaborative, the victory would not have happened if scores of low-income tenants had not descended on the Board of Appeals, demanding to be heard. Patel "thought he had it in his pocket," Dodge said. "The board kept putting the decision off, thinking it's going to disappear when it gets too technical for the ordinary crowd to follow."
Unfortunately, the tenants may still have another battle ahead. Andrew Zacks, attorney for the owner, told us he plans to request a rehearing at the Board of Appeals.