San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott speaks to union members as she seeks re-election.
San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. Photo by Chris Stone

The owner of a downtown hotel was sued by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office Friday for allegedly unsafe conditions at the property, which the city claims endangered tenants.

The city is seeking to bar Jack Shah Rafiq from maintaining a property with substandard housing conditions anywhere in the county in its lawsuit concerning the C Street Inn, a six-story hotel located between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

Earlier this year, the City Attorney’s Office said it was relocating the hotel’s occupants due to “deplorable” conditions at the hotel, including fire hazards and infestations of mold and rodents. A pair of inspections conducted this year also uncovered a lack of fire/smoke alarms, sprinklers and extinguishers; unpermitted plumbing modifications; and electrical hazards, according to the City Attorney’s Office, which alleges Rafiq has “refused to correct” the issues.

City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office also alleged he denied fire officials full access to the property during one such inspection.

“This landlord did more than endanger lives and refuse to take responsibility. He actively impeded the city’s efforts to protect his tenants from the imminent hazards he created,” Elliott said in a statement. “His behavior is unconscionable, and we see no reason to believe he will ever comply with health and safety laws.”

Most of its 84 occupants — many of whom the city described as elderly and disabled — have since been relocated, with the city seeking reimbursement from Rafiq for relocation costs of $4,720 per tenant.

Additionally, the city alleges the hotel has been host to a wide range of criminal activity, prompting police to respond to the inn more than 220 times over the past three years.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock