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Garage

East Boston garage used as illegal crash pad by flight attendants, city officials say

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“All occupants would be flight attendants who refer to these types of units as crash pads,” ISD said in a statement. “This type of blatant disregard for the rules and regulations related to the permitting process is unacceptable.”

The owner of the building, Aaron M. Daigneault, told a hearing on Thursday he didn’t know he needed a permit to build a residential unit and believed all the furniture in the building belonged to the tenants, according to city officials. Daigneault could not be reached for comment.

After the hearing, Sheila Cavaleri, Hearings Officer with Inspection Services, concluded that there were sufficient grounds to condemn the building as “unfit for human habitation”. The decision could be lifted if Daigneault brings the property up to code and registers the two rental units, among other stipulations, city officials said.

A re-inspection of the building is scheduled for April 14.

On Thursday, several people stopped at the property to pick up their belongings. At around 12:30 p.m., police escorted three women, who were carrying bags of bedding and drawers of clothes, out of the building. They did not respond to questions from reporters gathered outside.

The property, 37-39 Geneva St., is currently listed on Apartments.com as a 4,800 square foot studio with 1.5 bathrooms available for $6,000 per month. No one answered the listed phone number, which had an Albany, NY exchange. Voicemail was full around 10:50 a.m.

The Boston Fire Department and Inspectorate discovered life-threatening violations at 37-39 Geneva St., originally built as a parking lot and auto repair garage.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

According to city assessment records, the property is owned by Solskinn Properties LLC whose corporate records list Daigneault as its manager. Daigneault is also listed as a manager of BlueSkyRealty.Com LLC, which lists commercial property for rent at $6,000 per month, according to city records.

Daigneault identified himself as an independent IT consultant last year when he used the Everett Street address to donate $1,000 to State Rep. Jeffrey Turco, a Democrat who represents Suffolk’s 19th District, according to state records.

Daigneault has a history in the East Boston neighborhood. ISD spokesperson Lisa Timberlake said Daigneault owned an apartment building on Maverick Street when it partially collapsed in 2015, displacing 20 people. No injuries were reported, but the building had to be evacuated.

Lydia Edwards, a Boston alderman and state senator who represents East Boston, said a “20-bed garage is very dangerous.” She said she couldn’t believe such an apartment was “the best we could do” to house the flight attendants.

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The Boston Inspection Services Investigation and Enforcement Team condemned a garage that had been turned into an illegal two-bedroom unit.Boston Inspection Services

“I think it’s a lack of innovation,” she said. She said airlines, the Massachusetts Port Authority and the city should work together to create accommodations that flight attendants can use between shifts.

“It’s industry specific,” she says. “It’s a very necessary, very real need.”

Gabriela Cartagena, a community organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana, a tenant rights group, said the unauthorized apartment was another ‘red flag’ indicating that more affordable housing is needed in the city.

Crowded conditions occur when “the rent is too high,” said Cartagena, which supports rent control in Boston and across Massachusetts. She wanted to know what happened to the people staying in the apartment when it was closed.

“This is just further proof of the need for the City of Boston to invest more money in creating truly affordable housing,” she said.

Timberlake said a woman living on the property called the fire department earlier this week because an electrical panel appeared to be malfunctioning. Firefighters ensured the sign did not pose a safety risk and alerted ISD, which is responsible for enforcing state sanitation and building codes in the city.

On Tuesday, inspectors discovered that the second floor of the garage had been converted into two living quarters, while the first floor was used to improperly store flammable materials, including gasoline, officials said.


John R. Ellement can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Matt Yan can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @matt_yan12. Danny McDonald can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.