Brownstone CEO James Stallworth said on Tuesday he provided the city with a copy of the lease agreement, which stipulates a minimum 30-day stay, and has discussed the matter with the city, which he said was "misinformed."
"We do not allow stays less than 30 days," he said.
Brownstone Shared Housing co-founders Christina Lennox, top, and James Stallworth, bottom, brought their company's shared housing concept to Palo Alto in fall 2021. Courtesy Christina Lennox/Brownstone Shared Housing.
At present,13 people currently reside in the house. The newest person works for LinkedIn and has been there for 45 days; the resident with the longest stay is a researcher at Stanford University who has been in the house for 375 days, he said in a follow-up email on Tuesday.
Stallworth, who formerly worked for the state Auditor's Office, said by phone that he thinks the city should have contacted him rather than the homeowners since they know Brownstone is the lessee. He said the city was "not well-informed" regarding the ordinances on the limitation of the number of unrelated occupants and that it hadn't checked out whether the alleged violation of 30-day-stay requirement had occurred.
"I must state that many of the city’s assertions in the letter should not be characterized as objective facts -- just statements based on assumptions. For example, the city didn’t come in and measure the load or check/ask if our electronics were UL listed before sending the letter. I just want to make sure that is clear," he said in the email.
The city maintained in an email response on Wednesday that "the notice of violation includes a list of observed violations and references to specific code sections that the city believes were not in compliance."
Stallworth said his firm has complied with many of the city's correction demands. They replaced the plug-in light switch with a battery-powered light since they were unable to verify that the light switches were Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified, and the city observed that the light switch wiring was not up to their standards.
"We had an electrician sign off on our pod design to confirm that we were not at risk of overloading the circuit before we placed pods in the house," he said in the email.
The city said it has not independently verified compliance, but the property owner reports having installed the fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The city hasn't yet been called by the homeowners to do an inspection and can't verify claims that they have complied.
"When the property owner calls for an inspection the city will evaluate compliance. Additionally, the property owner has initiated the process of applying for permits to address the water heater and electrical panel," the city said in its email.
"At present, monthly pod rentals may continue while the property owner addresses the outstanding code violations," the city said.
Stallworth said the company shares the city’s commitment to the safety of its residents.
"We intend to operate fully within the limits set forth in the laws. We have had zero safety issues with our house in a year of operation, and implementing the city’s corrections will make our house even safer," he said.