With the Pinnacle Tower Project jobsite as a backdrop, over 150 local workers and their supporters gathered Saturday morning in San Diego's East Village for a rally aimed at drawing attention to the developer's alleged history of wage theft, tax fraud, and worker exploitation. Speakers included local labor leaders, wage theft victim Javier Santizo, and headliner, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, an outspoken opponent of Pinnacle and its practices,
"They don't care about working people, they don't care about working people or they'd pay people on their project correctly; they'd make sure their contractors pay correctly" said Gonzalez as she pointed at the Pinnacle jobsite.
Gonzalez also reminded the attendees that Pinnacle fought to have a separate entrance for lower income residents. The "poor door" design would have its own lobby, reception area and mail room. After public outcry, Pinnacle relented on the separate entrance. However, lower-income residents are still unable to use the pool, spa, and the rooftop deck, amenities that are available to market rate tenants (last year, Gonzalez introduced anti-poor-door legislation to combat this practice.)
During the rally, workers called out Pinnacle Superintendent Olsi Gega as one of Pinnacle's worst offenders and insinuated that much of these criminal practices happened under Gega's watch, with his approval.
One rally attendee noted that only a skeleton crew was assembled for a usually busy Saturday. The worker said, "everyone was sent home because Pinnacle doesn't want the workers to see us out here or hear our message."
When BDN approached the site in search of a response from Gega, he declined to comment and threatened to call the police.
Pinnacle, a Canadian company, also owns nearby Pinnacle on the Park, which has been the site of numerous controversies including fires, shootings, drug issues and rampant Airbnb partiers. As BDN reported previously, tenant dissatisfaction is high and Pinnacle on the Park has been the target of online parodies and has received numerous one-star Yelp reviews.
At the time of writing, Pinnacle has not responded to multiple calls for comment.