Suval Landlord Threatens Sunset District Nonprofit

by Randy Shaw on June 11, 2009

We have previously reported on the deplorable behavior of landlord Rita O’Flynn, whose violation of a city loan agreement came to light in her attempted eviction of longtime Sunset District activist Susan Suval. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sued her and her husband over this violation, and both that case and the appeal of the trial court eviction ruling against Suval are pending. Not content to allow the legal system to resolve the disputes, O’Flynn is now threatening the funding of a Sunset District nonprofit group whose chief connection to Suval is that it serves as the fiscal agent for a coalition of neighborhood groups she heads. Dawn Stueckle, Executive Director of Sunset Youth Services, has received a blizzard of public record requests from O’Flynn, some requesting documents going back fifteen years. And O’Flynn has warned Stueckle that if she does not respond to the voluminous requests within 3 days, “the matter will be referred to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and all donors will be notified of non-responsiveness to an inquiry regarding finances.”

Because Rita and Mark O’Flynn breached an agreement with the city over a lead paint loan, they were sued by the City Attorney’s Office to recover the $46,000 in question. But Rita O’Flynn has apparently decided that Susan Suval, and organizations with whom Suval has any connection, are to blame for her problems, and O’Flynn is now using the public records process as a vehicle for harassing them.

Something is very wrong here.

The only connections between Suval and Sunset Youth Services, which fosters long-term stability and growth in high-risk youth and families, are minimal. The group serves as fiscal agent for the Sunset District Neighborhood Coalition, which Suval currently heads. Sunset Youth Services has also issued a stipend to Suval for running the Sunset Community Festival.

Since the basis for the City’s lawsuit against the O’Flynn’s has nothing whatsoever to do with Suval’s volunteer work, these public record requests — which even request the audits of Sunset Youth Services — cannot uncover information that might bolster their legal position. Instead, it appears that the O’Flynn’s simply want to harass any group helped by Susan Suval, whose only “crime” was contesting her eviction rather than promptly moving out.

Dawn Stueckle is operating one of the city’s most vital organizations during very difficult budget times. Yet she has been forced to divert attention from her important work to handle immediate disclosure requests that are based entirely on a landlord’s spite and anger.

When I first spoke to Stueckle last week, she was being overwhelmed by O’Flynn’s retaliatory requests. She has since gotten some advice on the sunshine and public records laws acts, and is dealing with them.

Stueckle does not strike me as someone who is eager to ask for help when she feels she can take care of matters herself. But San Francisco families need her focusing on their problems, not the spiteful demands of the O’Flynns, and I am sure that she could use whatever help she can get to stop this abuse.

Randy Shaw is the Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, whose attorneys represent Susan Suval and which publishes Beyond Chron.

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