Fraud in Chinatown Non-Profit Senior Housing

October 22, 2015
Tom A. Hsieh

Democratic Club Uncovers Voter
Fraud in Chinatown Non-Profit Senior Housing
The Asian Pacific Democratic Club (APDC) has been gathering reports about widespread voter fraud in buildings owned or connected to the Chinatown Community Development Corporation (CCDC). In recent days, APDC has encountered multiple statements of stolen ballots from Chinese senior residents. In one instance, a blind woman reported her ballot was taken away and filled out by two female individuals. Those two individuals then told the senior that they had voted for “Aaron Peskin” on her ballot.
Senior citizens in these CCDC non-profit buildings are having their ballots stolen. These seniors are supposed to be protected by their caregivers but instead ballots are being harvested from them on a building-wide scale,” said Tom A. Hsieh, a spokesman of the club, which has been chartered since 1992.
“We should all be concerned about statements released from CCDC, accusing unnamed individuals of masquerading as CCDC employees and stealing ballots in their secured buildings,” said Hsieh. “It sounds absurdly like somebody is trying to cover their tracks.”
Hsieh is referring to a statement made by CCDC that “individuals came into CCDC buildings pretending to be CCDC employees and asked for ballots”. CCDC buildings are guarded by locked entrances and security personnel and entry by non-residents is unlikely.
One senior voter said that every year someone has come to his door to fill out his ballot, and that his ballot was taken in the last three years by the same person. He also stated that this was practiced throughout the whole building, which is managed by CCDC. In another incident, an elderly woman said two women came to her door, asked her to sign a ballot return envelope, and then took her ballot away. She said two women were returning to her building each day to collect ballots from others. The property, known as Chinatown’s Orangeland building, has a long history with CCDC.
Three buildings managed by or with ties to CCDC have had reports of voter fraud. APDC has evidence that a CCDC-owned building called Broadway Sansome Apartments allowed the Aaron Peskin for Supervisor campaign into the building in late September in apparent violation to their tax-exempt, non-profit rules against candidate electioneering.
“This illegal behavior is despicable. We are turning over our evidence to appropriate enforcement agencies in the hopes that they can stop this blatant violation of one our most basic freedoms—our right to vote,” said Hsieh.
Other interviews about ballot tampering are even more detailed and describe a group of people who are systemically committing voter fraud (voter names are withheld to protect them from retaliation):
Voter: Jane Doe, Age 87
Female, voted 4 out of last 5 elections
Consorcia Apartments, Chinatown CDC Building
1204 Mason Street, SF CA 94108
“I am blind, so I barely read and see. Two ladies (one older one younger) came to my place and filled out the ballot, and have me signed after. I was told I voted for Aaron Peskin.”
Voter: John Doe, Age 79
Voted 4 out of the last 5 elections
Clayton Hotel, Chinatown CDC Building
657 Clay Street , SF CA 94111
“Every year someone filled out my ballot, last couple of years the ballot was given to someone to vote. It’s happening in the whole building.”
Voter: Jane Doe, Age 79
Voted 4 out of last 5 elections
Orangeland Building, a property with a long history with CCDC
1047 Stockton St, SF CA 94108
“Two women (strangers) came to my house and filled out the ballot for me, asked me to sign and took it away.”

A Rising Trend: Home Elevators

A Rising Trend: Home Elevators
Adding a platform that raises people and things from one level to another in a home is more than a desirable amenity for buyers. For many, it’s a necessity.

apr15_HD_elevatorAn elevator in a personal home has been viewed as a luxury for years. However, more buyers — ranging from families with young children to those with temporary or permanent disabilities — now want a platform that can move people and things from one level of a home to another.

Historically, only the rich could afford elevators. While commercial versions date back to the 1850s to 1860s, private residential elevators only came into vogue with high-ceilinged three-story homes, according to Stuart Cohen, architect and coauthor of Great Houses of Chicago, 1871–1921 (Acanthus Press, 2008).

“First-floor ceiling heights were frequently between 12 and 20 feet, making ascent by stair to the second floor daunting,” says Cohen. “For urban houses such as the Frick Mansion in New York City or the Biltmore estate in Asheville, N.C., the largest house in the United States at the time, elevators were a must.”

apr15_HD_elevator1These private home elevators were practical. Wholesale grocery tycoon Franklin McVeigh had an elevator installed in 1887 at his family’s Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive mansion that whisked guests directly to a third-floor ballroom. Novelist Edith Wharton’s water pressure–powered elevator at her Lenox, Mass., house brought guests’ luggage up to the third floor.

The popularity of personal home elevators and three-story homes declined after the stock market crash of 1929 and the advent of ground-floor master bedrooms. Home elevators have become popular again with universal design, which is a method of constructing living spaces that are safer, easier, and more convenient for everyone.

Generally speaking, there are three different elevator types.

Hydraulic: This system takes up a lot of space and requires a machine room to hold the mechanics of the lift. This elevator is easier to install in a new home, where it can be part of a plan, rather than in a retrofit.
Traction: Also called an MRL (machine room-less) elevator. As the name implies, it does not require a separate machine room. This elevator slides up and down a track with a counterweight. However, it does require space on top of the shaft to house the machinery.

Pneumatic: A polycarbonate tube with a separate internal tube uses air pressure to move the car up and down; it’s similar to tubes used for check deposits at banks. Outer tube diameters range from 30 inches to 52 inches. The tube can be installed without a shaft or a machinery room, making it ideal for a retrofit. At the very least, the home will require an opening that’s slightly wider than the tubes to get them inside, though home owners can gain some maneuvering room by temporarily removing the tube door.
Standard hydraulic and traction lifts are substantially more expensive than their pneumatic counterparts, which cost $23,000 to $57,000 including installation. But these conventional lifts remain popular because the pneumatic variety is newer and remains less well-known.

apr15_HD_elevator3The cost of a standard elevator will depend on whether you are including it in new construction plans or if you are retrofitting an existing space. The latter could be half the cost of the whole bill for retrofitting an existing home for mobility concerns, according to Mike Fearn, owner of Mike Knows Construction in Biloxi, Miss. Adding an elevator to an existing home means the home owner will have either to use existing square footage or to build a shaft on the home’s exterior. Home owners will need to request special permission to add an exterior elevator shaft to an existing home in an historic district if the shaft can be seen from the street. If home owners are building or remodeling their home and would eventually like an elevator someday, they may consider constructing the shaft now (perhaps in the form of a set of closets, one on top of the other) to save time and money later.

Setting aside labor costs, the actual elevator can run $17,500 to $35,000 or more, which includes the expenses of moving electrical wires, outlets, HVAC, plumbing, as well as building the steel framework, installing wall panels and applying finishes. For buyers looking at an existing home with an elevator, an inspector from the company that manufactured the elevator may be available to service the device.

apr15_HD_elevator2Real estate professionals should market homes with elevators as a convenience for all ages and mobility levels, says F. Ron Smith, founding partner with Partners Trust in Los Angeles, who’s selling two three-story properties with elevators. “Families, couples, and singles alike use elevators for the Costco runs, flats of water bottles, cases of champagne,” he says. Elevators are also handy for “caterers for parties to get food up and down, when you sprain your knee skiing, or from just getting out of the car, and when you just don’t want the stairs.”

Elevators can be an asset for your listings, if shown in the right light. And while adding an elevator to an existing home or incorporating it in new construction isn’t cheap, it will add value and allow buyers to maximize the use of their home for years to come.

Luxury Home Sales Surge Past Pre-Recession Heights

In the new San Francisco, the average dollar is a luxury dollar. Paragon reportsthat luxury home values in San Francisco have blown past their pre-recession peaks, lending handy graphic form to the thing we all feel in our gut.

Not only that, but proportion of home and condo sales that fall in the category of luxe has also jumped. Since 2007, the number of luxury dwellings—defined as more than $2M for single-family homes and $1.5M for condos and co-ops—changing hands has increased twofold. That somewhat arbitrary benchmark holds whether you’re looking at a true manse or a Bernal fixer-upper.
The increase is part self-fulfilling prophecy (when prices go up, more properties will beat that luxury benchmark) and part legacy of all the high-end condo construction of the previous decade-plus. Even though condo sales lagged in the downturn, many pre-recession properties are reaching the MLS for the first time as their original owners put them on the market.
Indeed, condos are capturing a larger share of the luxury housing cache. And now they’ve even overtaken luxury home sales in San Francisco. Though the briskest activity is in the predictable places—Pac Heights, the Marina, Russian Hill—historically scrappy neighborhoods like the Mission and Mid-Market are seeing rapid growth. And with the building frenzy back in full force, we should be seeing more of the same.


Source: Paragon

Lane Partners buys historic Sears building in Oakland to lure tech tenants

Lane Partners plans to convert the Sears building into a retail and tech hub in the heart of Oakland’s booming Uptown neighborhood.

The real estate investment firm, based in Menlo Park, beat out several bidders and paid $25 million or about $63 per square foot for the historic, 400,000-square-foot building at 1945 Broadway from Sears Holding Co.

The firm plans to renovate the six-story structure to house a space large enough for a major tech tenant and rebrand it as Uptown Station.

“Uptown Station will be embraced by the tech sector due to great architecture, new technology, collaborative space and a great live/work environment,” said Scott Smithers, managing principal of Lane Partners.

The property, built in 1925, features 66,000-square-foot floorplates and currently houses just one tenant, a Sears department store, on the ground floor. Sears plans to vacate the space within 90 days.

Smithers said the spacious floor plans, historic architecture, and expansive windows make the building ideal for “creative space” that many technology tenants want. That type of space has become scarce in both San Francisco and Oakland — especially in the range of 350,000 square feet.

The building also sits right on top of a BART station and is located in the middle of Uptown. The area has become a thriving entertainment district. Over the past several years, dozens of new restaurants and bars have opened, as well as hundreds of new apartments and condos.

“For location, it’s a no-brainer,” said John Dolby, an Oakland broker with Cassidy Turley. “If (Lane Partners) makes the building into creative space, it will be very desirable.”

Some tech companies like Lyft, a maker of an app for car sharing services, looked in Oakland, but couldn’t find a large enough space.

“(The Sears building) will be great for downtown Oakland and is going be able to attract a tech company from San Francisco,” Dolby said.

Now that the deal closed, the rehab is next. Some of the building’s windows were filled in with concrete to make it more seismically sound, so Lane Partners plans to restore the windows to make them operable and install other types of seismic reinforcements.

“The interiors are amazing,” Smithers said, noting that the floors come with 14 foot high ceilings. “We’re returning much of the facade to the original look and feel.”

The new owner expects to finish the renovations by the first quarter of 2016. Lane Partners plans to keep retail on the ground floor to “activate the street” and convert the basement level into parking.

Lane Partners already hired on a team of brokers led by Bill Cumbelich, a San Francisco broker with CBRE, to lease up the building.

The building has significant potential, said Alan Dones, managing partner and CEO of the Strategic Urban Development Alliance LLC, who tried to buy the building earlier this year, but fell out of contract. Another bidder, Strada Investment Group went into contract on the building after that, but they also didn’t close.

“We had been looking in the Oakland market for a while, so when we heard about this building, we inquired about it,” Smither said. “It was a competitive process that required an understanding of the building and for us to act quickly.”

Source: Blanca Torres Reporter-San Francisco Business Times