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Bay Area man forced out of his $400 box home

San Francisco officials deem micro-apartment a fire hazard

By Kieren McCarthy, 13 Apr 2016

Illustrator Peter Berkowitz had been forced out of his $400-a-month box home in San Francisco after officials ruled it a fire hazard.

Berkowitz became a minor celebrity when he spoke to his local NBC station about his custom built pod in the living room of his friends' house in Outer Sunset.

The rent is San Francisco is so high, he told the channel, that he hired a carpenter to build an 8ft by 3.5ft wooden box – which Berkowitz lives in at a fraction of the cost of a full room, with access to amenities. Currently, a bedroom in a shared house in SF costs between $1,300 and $3,000 (£700 to £2,100) a month.

Before he knew it, other media outlets came knocking and asked Berkowitz about everything from the box's construction to his opportunities for onanism. Unfortunately for him, city officials were not as amused.

Having seen pictures online, they decided pretty quickly that not only did the box violate local housing laws but it was also a pretty significant fire hazard.

Strawn man

The director of public affairs for San Francisco's department of building inspection, William Strawn, was circumspect about what he called "creative efforts to try and cope with what everybody recognizes is a tough housing market."

However, there are laws about the amount of space, air and light that must be allowed in a bedroom. And of course, there's the fact that it's made out of wood so if there was a fire "anybody inside it would essentially be toast."

The officials hadn't actually managed to track down Berkowitz but he saw the writing on the wall (which was about three inches from his face), dismantled the box and has moved back in with his family while he figures out what to do next.

There is hope though. Strawn suggests maybe "a bed with a curtain around it." ®

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