Residents report 2nd water leak, presumed theft at luxury SF apartments

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Friday, August 12, 2022
Residents report 2nd water leak, presumed theft at luxury apartments
Residents at flooded 33 Tehama luxury San Francisco apartments reported a second water leak and presumed theft in vacant homes.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The 33 Tehama luxury apartments building has been shut down for over two months due to flooding. Hundreds of residents have been displaced, staying at hotels throughout San Francisco.

Now, a new delay is hindering tenants, who have been waiting for the building to get fixed, from returning to their homes: a second water leak that happened just 24 hours ago.

The latest water leak at 33 Tehama prompted the evacuation of construction workers who were fixing the building and residents who were picking up belongings.

"We are in the stack of units in a corner that has been affected the most. From the top-down, from the 35th- to the first-floor units, have water damage. We're in the position where 90-to-95% of our belongings are still in our apartment, and we are not able to access it," said tenant Stephanie Sunwoo.

RELATED: Residents at flooded San Francisco luxury building may not be able to return home until 2023

Sunwoo is one of over 600 residents who were evacuated two months ago after a pipe burst. An estimated 20,000 gallons of water -- the equivalent of an entire swimming pool -- cascaded through the building, into elevator shafts and apartments. She was in her apartment over the weekend recovering some of her personal items and says now they are discovering more than just water damage.

"It's just madness right now," Sunwoo said. "We've already experienced loss in our apartment. We have missing items from our apartment and also some of our neighbors."

Sunwoo said some of her neighbors have caught people inside their vacated apartments.

"There are some late-night intruders who are coming in and being caught on our neighbors' cameras, those of them who are lucky enough to have internet," Sunwoo said.

VIDEO: New 'catastrophic' details reveal what went wrong inside flooded luxury SF apartment building

ABC7 News has learned about new "catastrophic" details into what went wrong inside 33 Tehama luxury apartment building in San Francisco.

In a statement, Hines, the real estate development and management firm that owns the building, confirmed that the latest water leak took place at the same location as the original event.

"At approximately 6:30 p.m. PST on August 10, 33 Tehama experienced a water leak incident at the same location as the original event. The San Francisco Fire Department responded immediately and evacuated the building, which has not housed residents since the initial June 3 water intrusion event. A small number of residents and construction workers were in the building at the time, and everyone exited safely. We are in the process of assessing the extent of the damage and cause. At this time, we are not able to allow residents access to the building to pick up mail, retrieve items from their homes or proceed with moving out. We are not sure when access will be made available again. The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority. We are continuing to work with them to address their needs and keep them informed. We will provide more information as it becomes available."

RELATED: More than 600 residents at SF luxury apartment displaced by flood; some left without hotel

San Francisco's Department of Building Inspection has multiple complaints for 33 Tehama, the latest one citing "there is water flow in the elevator shafts. It is visible."

Supervisor Matt Dorsey is demanding answers and says a lawsuit from the city is not out of the question

"This is extraordinary that it happens once -- that it's happening twice in three months. Come on, something is not being handled or managed well here," Dorsey said. "Under state law, the city attorney is authorized to pursue civil actions if anybody is violating the law as a matter of business."

As for Sunwoo and her neighbors, she says that despite the second water leak, they are still paying utilities, even though they haven't lived in the building since early June.

"Our utility bills are skyrocketing because they are using all of our individual outlets to have these fans blowing for several hours a day," Sunwoo said.

Regarding presumed theft in vacant units and residents paying for utilities Hines called the allegations "misinformation" and said:

"Residents are not responsible for their utility bills during this period. They can send their bills to us, and we will cover them. Additionally, we have security on-site. We encourage residents to notify us and the police if there is any suspicious activity in their apartments."

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