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San Francisco bed pods for techies a violation of city building code

image showing hotel with insert of capsule pods
A San Francisco residence that went viral for charging $700 a month to sleep in cramped pods was found to be in violation of the city’s building code. | Source: Courtesy Christian Lewis

The $700-a-month Mint Plaza pods Downtown, currently occupied by a collection of AI founders, techies and other budget-minded tenants, have apparently run afoul of multiple segments of the San Francisco building code.

A week after a case against the property was opened, the Mint Plaza pod hotel received a citation from the Department of Building Inspection Tuesday.

The installation of the sleeping pods on the top floor of the structure violates the building code, as it “constitutes an illegal change” from a business-office building with a 50-people maximum capacity to a residential building. The building was previously a location of the San Francisco Fire Credit Union.

Inspectors also found that a basement bathroom was converted from a toilet to a shower stall, another violation.

Additionally, the Mint Plaza complex violated a safety clause of the city’s building code. The front door of the unit requires a key to exit, which city inspectors say creates “a life safety issue.” 

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

In order to comply with the code, the lock must be replaced within five days to one that does not require a key to exit. The permit must be filed within 30 days, and all work to address the violations must be completed within 90 days. A failure to resolve the issues could result in fines that ramp up over time, in addition to an existing fine based on the amount of work done without permits.

Last year, Palo Alto officials issued citations for a similar pod residence operated by Brownstone. In a recent interview with the Mountain View Voice, Brownstone co-founders Christina Lennox and James Stallworth asserted that they rectified the violations, and that they anticipated city action against their housing unit.

“We’re not trying to break any laws or anything like that,” Stallworth said. “We’re just trying to house people.”

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

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the nature of the violations the building was cited for.