Luke was jailed this year for Tax Evasion.
Luke Brugnara Makes His Point All the city's most bombastic commercial landlord wants is a San
Real Estate 'Mogul' Sentenced for Tax Evasion: Luke...
Source: Curbed - San Francisco
Luke Brugnara, called
the "city's most bombastic commercial landlord" by the SF Weekly in a
2002 profile , got two and half years in prison for evading taxes on $45
million worth of property sales .
Francisco-themed casino in Las Vegas ... or absolute misery for anyone
who gets in his way
By Jeremy Mullman Wednesday, Jan 30 2002
"This is such bullshit."
Brugnara in front of his building at 351 California St. Related Content
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Luke Brugnara, San Francisco's
most bombastic and, perhaps, pugnacious commercial landlord, looks
around the Department of Public Health's shoddily painted, poorly lit
hearing room, which is lightly peppered with government workers in
wrinkle-free pants and cheap shirts, and doesn't bother masking his
disgust. He is sitting on a generic wooden meeting-hall bench, waiting
to confront bureaucrats who have filed a complaint against him, claiming
he has too much ivy growing on and around his home in tony St. Francis
Wood. He's not exactly waiting patiently; Brugnara is asked to quiet
down when he utters the phrase "What a fucking disgrace" a little too
loudly while watching a representative of a Chevy's restaurant deal with
complaints about a leaky pipe.
Once Brugnara's name is called, he stalks to the podium like a boxer
leaving his corner. He's wearing his standard outfit for conducting
business: a pair of navy blue sweat pants, a red long-sleeved polo
shirt, and a Ralph Lauren
barn jacket zipped tight around his barrel-chested torso. After a brief
attempt to explain that most of the properties in his neighborhood have
dense shrubbery, followed by a few harsh exchanges with the Health
Department bureaucrat hearing the complaint, Brugnara decides to explain
exactly where he stands.
"Quite frankly, my time is more valuable than yours, and I see this
as being harassed," he says. "I own many office buildings in downtown
San Francisco, and for me to be brought down here to talk about plants
"You can argue all you want, Mr. Brugnara," says the bureaucrat, "but
all we want you to do is maintain it in a reasonable manner. And
looking at these pictures of your property, this constitutes overgrowth
Brugnara is shown a picture of his home, which has thick ivy balled
up on its roof and extending out to -- but not obstructing -- the
sidewalk. The photo probably wasn't clipped from Better Homes & Gardens
, but the house isn't exactly untended either.
"What constitutes overgrowth vegetation?" he asks testily.
"[The ivy] is climbing up your neighbor's wall."
"Sir, I own that building, too. It's my private property."
The bureaucrat seems a little unnerved by this revelation but sticks
to his guns, telling Brugnara the ivy constitutes a potential "rodent
It is a poor choice of words.
Luke Brugnara has blown up in public arenas far more hallowed than this. He has seriously berated Nevada's
all-powerful Gaming Control Board while asking it for a casino license.
He has earned not one but two restraining orders based on his allegedly
abusive behavior inside courthouses
. So suggesting to Brugnara
that he lives in a multimillion-dollar rattrap probably isn't wise, if
one intends to run a civil hearing in a public place.
"So I can be cited for potential
rodents?" Brugnara asks, the
volume of his voice rising markedly. "I live there. I can assure you
there aren't any rodents. You can't tell me what part of the code that
violates? What it [the code] says is that it's [harboring] rodents, and
"We can argue all you want this morning, Mr. Brugnara. If you want to talk to an attorney that's fine with me."
"What are you suggesting I do?"
"I can't make recommendations. We'll have an investigator work with your gardener."
"My time is very valuable, and I want to know what I have to do to
keep you people from harassing me. The purpose of this hearing is to
satisfy you," Brugnara says, red-faced now and uncomfortably loud,
leaning toward the squirming bureaucrat. "And I want to know what I have
to do to satisfy you. ... I don't back down to any bureaucracy unless
it's backed up by law and backed up by truth, and right now, you're just
harassing me as a taxpayer. I pay your salary! Do you know that? I pay
over a million dollars of taxes a year on my property. Are you aware of
"You are going to be escorted out of here right now," the bureaucrat says.
"I don't need to be escorted," says Brugnara, turning his back to the
bureaucrat and to an approaching police officer. "I'll walk."
A few minutes later, driving his blue Mercedes sedan toward one of
his two downtown San Francisco office buildings, Luke Brugnara explains
the performance at the Health Department: "I shouldn't have been down
there at all today. So I was just going to go down there and make that
guy's life miserable today.
"And that's what I succeeded in doing."
These days, Brugnara -- a self-made commercial real estate mogul who,
by his mid-30s, had acquired a fortune he estimates at $200 million --
often seems at least as interested in making his point as he is in
making money in commercial property. He had the foresight to sell off
much of his downtown portfolio before the post-dot-com collapse of the
office space market began, investing the proceeds in better-regarded
Financial District properties, a 200-acre parcel of South Bay
wilderness, and, most significant to him, a Las Vegas casino.
The casino, which he plans to turn into a grand, San Francisco-themed
resort, is at the center of Brugnara's development plans. It also
embodies one of the biggest points he wants to make.