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Monday, December 19, 2011

Embarcadero Center Threatened to Sue City Over Occupy Encampment

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 10:50 AM

click to enlarge Embarcadero Center: Occupiers+ holiday ice show = "disastrous."
  • Embarcadero Center: Occupiers+ holiday ice show = "disastrous."

The Hyatt Regency and Vitale hotels complained of foul camp conditions, "sexual harassment," and an employee getting coffee thrown on him by Occupiers

The 99 percent might wage war with drum circles, slogans, and tent cities, but the 1 percent will fight back -- in court. Among the many pressures Mayor Ed Lee faced when trying to evict the Occupy SF camp from Justin Herman Plaza were threats of getting sued by the owners of Embarcadero Center and heated complaints from nearby hotels, according to letters turned over by the mayor's office to SF Weekly

The Embarcadero Center threatened to sue the city in three letters in November for allowing Occupiers to camp out in tents, vandalize its property, and present "disastrous" conditions for its Christmas lights ceremony and ice show. As of Friday, Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the City Attorney's Office, said that the Embarcadero Center had not made good on its threat to file a claim against the city. The center's attorney hasn't returned our messages.

Additionally, a representative of the Hyatt Regency wrote to Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, saying that Occupy had been "hijacked by vagrants and delinquents who are seriously impacting my business and this neighborhood." The luxury Hotel Vitale at 8 Mission Street also wrote Mayor Lee, outlining episodes of alleged harassment endured by employees, including one who claims coffee was thrown on him and another being cat-called by Occupiers as she left work.

But none pulled out the legal threats like Boston Properties, the owner of Embarcadero Center. A November 7 letter by the landlord's attorney Marshall Wallace threatens to sue the city for damages and injunctive relief for failing to enforce city codes at Justin Herman Plaza, part of which Embarcadero Center maintains. 

The letter stated that two tenants had ended lease negotiations with the property in the previous week, and one of the sponsors of the holiday ice rink at Justin Herman Plaza withdrew its sponsorship because of the camp. Additionally, it alleged that Occupiers had stolen from patrons, peed on and vandalized its property, destroyed paper towel dispensers and left syringes in the bathrooms.

The letter expressed fears of an Armageddon-like episode at the lighting ceremony, which was held on Nov. 18, with Toy Story 3 "Disney on Ice" show: "If the present conditions are allowed to persist, the event will be ruined. Many families will stay away, and many of those that come will be fearful for the safety of their children." It said that sending out a large police presence "would ruin the spirit of the event, and may even invite violent confrontations, which would be disastrous." 
Why pay $800 for a deluxe suite at the Hotel Vitale, when you could stay here for free?
  • Why pay $800 for a deluxe suite at the Hotel Vitale, when you could stay here for free?
In a second letter dated Nov. 10, Boston Properties reported $30,000 in damages from the previous night. In a third letter from Nov. 11, the landlord said if the city didn't provide them a specific plan of action by the following Monday with a clear immediate timetable for evicting the tent city, they would file suit. 

In a letter to Supervisor Elsbernd from Hyatt Regency's general manager David Lewin, the hotel claims "the blight ... is impacting future bookings and the noise that is being generated every night is causing guests to check out and refuse to pay their charges." 

Hotel Vitale general manager Melony Williams wrote the mayor on Nov. 16 to complain of a $60,000 impact to the luxury hotel due to canceled events and reservations. (A night in the "deluxe panoramic suite" starts at $800.)

The letter said one female employee was taunted with "Hey babe" and "Why are you not talking to us?" from the Occupiers as she left work at night. Another employee called 911 as a "belligerent" man from the camp approached her at the F-line Muni stop. A male employee was "accosted" at the F-line stop, when an "Occupier ran behind him and threw coffee at his back."

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