The two homes belonging to Wing King on 48th Avenue near Sutro Heights Park
Many readers will recall the early morning fire that burned on the hill below Sutro Heights Park in late January. At the time the SFFD determined that the fire had been set, most likely the result of a campfire from a homeless camper.
At the time, we had an email from a Sutro Heights resident about the owner of the property and his reclusive ways. He’s not well-liked in the neighborhood due to the poor condition of his property, and for his unwillingness to secure his property to prevent homeless encampments.
Chris Roberts, a reporter at the Examiner, published a story on Sunday about the owner, whose name is Wing King.
You may not realize anyone lives at 641 48th Avenue, but King, a licensed physician who last practiced endoscopy at UC San Francisco, does occupy the home. Visitors to the front door are instructed to write via email rather than ring the bell, and security cameras hover over the entrance.
King owns two homes on the lot, and according to the Examiner article, he uses one to live in, and the other for storage. Both homes have large back lots that border on the edge of Sutro Heights Park, and they are a favorite enclave for homeless campers and partying teenagers.
According to the Examiner article, the SFFD has had to come out multiple times to extinguish fires in the backyards:
Firefighters have doused blazes on King’s property five times since 2004, according to records. Once they climbed over a fence that “collapsed inward” in order to reach a small brush fire. A homeless encampment went up in August 2010. In February 2012, a man claiming to be a cop himself told police he was clearing the property. Other times, dried-out leaves and branches — the organic fuel available is ample — smoldered or blazed, once in a firepit in October.
It’s unclear what can be done to force King to maintain his property, but it doesn’t appear that a lack of funds is the issue, as he’s willing to fork over money for lawsuits and fines:
He has been sued regularly over the years, but not because of neighborhood fire risks. Rather, the suits are related to real estate dealings, mostly — his mother in Hong Kong, former business partners and a bank that extended a $1 million line of credit. He lost that large case — as he did The City’s lawsuit for nine false 911 calls made between December 2005 and July 2007 — by failing to show up to court.
King does appear to have some communication with the outside world. He called his neighbor, Frank Choy, on the night of the January fire. But Choy, and other neighbors’ patience is running thin as the properties continue to deteriorate and attract the wrong element. The Examiner article mentions that neighbors may be mulling over a lawsuit against King.
UPDATE 3/19/13: The city has fired the first shot, giving King 15 days to prove that the homes are occupied or he faces penalties of up to $7,000 per home. [via SF Examiner]
The January 19, 2013 fire that erupted at the back of King’s properties, as seen from Great Highway and Balboa.