DBI chief inspectors signed off on own family’s jobs, properties

Joe Eskenazi

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The Department of Building Inspection last week confirmed that it will launch an internal investigation after Mission Local found several veteran inspectors had overseen work performed by family members. In multiple instances, the family members also had a financial interest in the buildings. 

Two of these DBI officials have risen through the ranks to attain the role of chief inspector, the top position beneath deputy directors. 

The inspectors in question are Acting Chief Building Inspector Kevin T. Birmingham, Inspector Sean Birmingham and Mark Walls, the chief building inspector in plan-review services. Walls is related to the Birminghams through his stepfather. 

Mission Local has found 20 instances in which one of the three DBI employees oversaw a job performed by a member of their extended family. Five of these jobs took place in a building in which a Birmingham had a financial stake.

The Birminghams are a large San Francisco family whose name has long been synonymous with city construction. That was true even before Birminghams began working in city departments (There are presently four members of the extended Birmingham family working at the Department of Building Inspection; John Birmingham is an electrical inspector). 

Acting chief building inspector Kevin T. Birmingham’s brothers, Bryan and Robert, are both builders and Robert is a successful developer and building-owner. His cousin, also named Kevin Birmingham, is a realtor, former builder and building owner. His uncle, George Birmingham, is a veteran builder.


In the Department of Building Inspection

realtor,

former builder,

building owner

building

inspector,

plan checker

acting chief

building

inspector

In the Department of Building Inspection

acting chief

building

inspector

building

inspector,

plan checker

realtor,

former builder,

building owner

Family tree by Will Jarrett. Permit data from the Department of Building Inspection.

  • DBI records reveal Kevin T. Birmingham inspecting or doing other work on jobs performed by all four of these relatives: George, Kevin and his brothers Robert and Bryan. In at least two instances, he oversaw a job performed by a Birmingham in a building in which a Birmingham has a financial stake. 
  • DBI records reveal Sean Birmingham inspecting jobs undertaken by Bryan and Kevin, his brother. Kevin Birmingham is Sean Birmingham’s brother, and the job was in a building owned by an LLC managed by Kevin Birmingham. That LLC is named after the Birmingham family’s city of origin in Ireland, Milltown. 
  • Finally, Walls inspected jobs done by George and Robert — with the latter being in a building where Robert also manages the LLCs that own the structure. Walls also plan-checked four jobs undertaken by George — his late stepfather’s brother. He checked the plans on two jobs by Robert — with one of those jobs occurring at a time that Robert also managed the LLC that owns the building. In 2022, Walls plan-checked one of  Bryan’s projects. 

Mission Local’s queries about this to the Department of Building Inspection resulted in the initiation of an HR probe. Our questions raise “important issues that we will incorporate into our investigation of these occurrences,” writes the department.  

Over the past four years, the Department of Building Inspection has seen its former director, Tom Hui, forced out at legal bayonet-point, with many of his top lieutenants hurriedly retiring. Former senior inspector Bernie Curran has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for a bribery scheme and is also on the hook for a two-year term for perjury. Former plan-checkers Cyril Yu and Rudy Pada are also facing federal bribery charges. 

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Joe Eskenazi missionlocal.org Featured,Government,Department of Building Inspection

SOURCE
2024-01-08 19:03:27 , Mission Local

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