Brownstone says it has more than 50 people on the waiting list for its “pods.”

The operator of San Francisco’s sleeping “pods” lashed out at city officials amid an ongoing row. Brownstone Shared Housing says it’s been waiting for approval for its $700-a-month pods for months.Planning officials say the company still needed to complete important safety upgrades.

The company behind San Francisco’s $700-a-month tiny sleeping “pods” has accused city officials of worsening the city’s homelessness problem as it battles a lengthy investigation.

James Stallworth, CEO of Brownstone Shared Housing, told Business Insider that San Francisco Planning Department staff had an “adversarial attitude toward housing.”

Brownstone says it is waiting for city officials to approve a change-of-use request so it can continue operating its 4-foot-high sleeping pods in Mint Plaza.

City officials told BI that Brownstone still needed to complete important safety upgrades to comply with the law.

The pods made headlines late last year after proving a hit with some tech workers seeking affordable accommodation in central San Francisco. Officials later claimed the pods were illegally installed without a residential building permit.

Daniel Sider, chief of staff at the San Francisco Planning Department, said in a statement: “Brownstone built a Gen Z pod farm in the dark of night, got caught, and has shown an unwillingness to safely accommodate their tenants or follow the law.”

He said his staff had extended a “helping hand since day one” of the process.

While Brownstone still operates the pods for existing residents, Stallworth said city planners had asked the company not to add more residents until it had approved the pods — a process that’s taken almost eight months.

“The fact that the process has taken this long is an embarrassment to the city and highlights why there are still thousands of people sleeping on the street,” Stallworth said in an email statement.

City officials say Brownstone has “repeatedly failed” to provide basic drawings required for review, and “straightforward questions have gone unanswered.”

“Without their cooperation, we don’t have a way to move things forward,” Sider said.

Growing waiting list

Stallworth said the waiting list for the pods has grown to more than 50 people while the company waited to resolve the dispute with city officials.

He said the list of applicants included several AI entrepreneurs who see the accommodation at Mint Plaza “as the best way to participate in the growing AI community in San Francisco.”

Tech workers who have lived in the pods have previously praised the accommodation for its affordable price and buzzy environment.

Christian Lewis, a tech startup founder, posted photos of his experience in one of the pods on X, claiming that “several AI founders and indie hackers” also lived in the pods.

He said in the post: “I’m just trying to stay within the city of San Francisco without paying $4,000 a month or getting stabbed, and I think this is a great solution so far. There’s a lot of cool people here too.”

‘Nonsense’

Stallworth said that he had felt building and planning employees were making the process too difficult.

“It has taken nearly a year to get a simple change of use,” he said. “The planning department is the reason why San Francisco’s homelessness problem hasn’t been solved.”

Sider called that claim “nonsense,” adding that San Francisco was “an excellent location for new homes, and new rules from the state, the mayor, and our board of supervisors make housing dramatically more straightforward to build citywide.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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