Defiant Sinbad’s fights waterfront eviction

The Port of San Francisco has filed a lawsuit against the owners of Sinbad’s Restaurant at Pier 2, which has remained open for business despite the expiration of a 30-day notice to vacate the property, officials said Friday.

Port officials said in a statement that Sinbad’s lease on the pier expired March 23, after which the restaurant was given a 30-day notice demanding the restaurant vacate the property. That 30-day notice has expired.

The Port plans to build a new public plaza in the area and prepare for the eventual construction of the Downtown Ferry Terminal Expansion Project, which will include a new ferry gate at Sinbad’s current location.

Construction for that project is scheduled to start in Spring 2016, and demolition of the building occupied by Sinbad’s is necessary to bring the Port into compliance with state law and related policies, officials said.

Port officials said restaurant management agreed to a lawsuit settlement in 2012 in which the Port forgave $85,000 in back rent in exchange for an agreement to vacate by the end of 2014. In December of 2014 the Port granted an extension to the end of March, but officials said it was clearly understood at that time that there would be no further extensions.

The restaurant’s owners, however, said they disagree with the Port’s claims. Co-owner Duane Stinson said:

“First of all, we are going to stay.”

Stinson referred further questions to attorney Robert Kane, who said his firm filed a lawsuit against the city, county and Port of San Francisco at the end of March alleging that the Port has acted in bad faith.

The suit alleges:

“Plaintiff has been assured the (Downtown Ferry Terminal Expansion) project will not commence until 2016 at the earliest and … any demolition could be easily postponed. …¬†Although Defendants insisted that Plaintiffs vacate the premises by March 21, 2015, they accepted and cashed the rent payment for the month of March in full.”

The rights and obligations of both parties are unclear, according to Kane, and he hopes the legal challenge will sort those matters out. In the meantime, however, Sinbad’s management intends to keep the restaurant open.

Port officials said Sinbad’s owners have five days to answer the unlawful detainer complaint, following which the Port “will immediately proceed to court to recover its property at Pier 2.”