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Can a resident lodge a lawsuit against the city for negligence or some other reason for not keeping neighborhoods safe/clean?

San Francisco, CA |

So, if someone has the funds to lodge a lawsuit against the city of SF for failing to keep neighborhoods like the tenderloin/nob hill/civiv center safe, clean and habitable, is there a feasible way to go after them? Even if its not for monetary damages, could such a suit force the city into dealing with these issues more promptly? I pay 3500 a month for a very tiny apt here, which is triple the mortgage on my parents huge home. yet the sidewalks are filthy, urinated, covered in feces, and extremely frightening to walk with so many characters you witness dealing and doing drugs, some more than likely armed, and especially since my friend was recently mugged and beaten on his way home here. Could a lawsuit bring more attention for better public policy?

the city has made having a vehicle nearly impossible. I don't think the residents here should be paying such high rental rates when theres such a threat on our sidewalks. I feel the city, being as rich as it is compared to all other cities, is clearly negligent because these problems are literally in its own backyard, blocks away from town hall, blocks away from the mayor and city official offices. This is not a matter of the homeless, its the issue of druggies, thieves, muggers, litterers, loiters, and threatening characters. I feel residents should be protected more so, i feel rental rates should enforced based on neighborhood conditions, and the terrible thing is, theres a police station a block away, and this is all still going on. The noise pollution is already terrible as it is. this other stuff should have been dealt with a long time ago.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. This is not an legal issue but rather a political one. Your remedy is at the city council chamber.


  2. I agree with attorney Fiol. If you don't like the service that your elected officials provide, perhaps you should run for office or help elect new officials. Why would you continue to live in a neighborhood where the rent is so outrageously high and the neighborhood conditions are so unlivable? You are free to move and live wherever you like.


  3. I agree its more of a political than legal issue. The City has wide latitude when it comes to how to spend its money and what laws to enforce or adopt. In fact, California Government Code Section 818.2 even provides that " A public entity is not liable for an injury caused by adopting or failing to adopt an enactment or by failing to enforce any law."

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  4. Rents in SF and everywhere else are based on what the free market will bear. The rents charged in SF are the amounts that the owners can successfully rent their properties at. That is proof positive of "worth." When a rental property is offered at more than it is "worth," it sits vacant and returns nothing to the owner. No landlord leaves a rental unit unrented for a minute longer than necessary because the rental income for each day that a unit is vacant is lost forever, never to be collectible. "Worth" is a relative term in the rental market as everywhere, but it aways means "what the available willing renter is willing to pay."

    In truth, rents usually lag a bit behind "worth." If you moved out tomorrow, could your landlord re-rent your place for $20 a month more than you are paying?

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