Lance Farber, Arsonist Beau of S.F. Planning Chief John Rahaim, Dies at 49

Lance Corey Farber
Lance Corey Farber, once dubbed the "fire-starting, tomato-tossing boyfriend of San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim," is dead at 49.

Sources said Farber passed away in his sleep over the weekend, and the Medical Examiner's office confirmed that Farber was pronounced dead at 3:25 a.m. on Sunday, April 18. The results of an autopsy are pending, according to Don Stocum, an investigator with the Medical Examiner's office.

Farber had moved from Seattle to San Francisco in December 2007 and opened a chiropractic business at 211 Gough Street. He has been under investigation by both the Washington Department of Health and the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

The investigation in California concerned Farber's 2008 misdemeanor conviction in the incident for which he is famous: setting fire to a mattress in the Dennis T. Sullivan Memorial Fire Chief's Home. Farber also overturned furniture and crushed canned tomatoes into the carpet and walls.

After he caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the city-owned property that he and Rahaim had been staying in, Farber was pulled over in San Mateo county for driving under the influence. 

Since the incident, Farber paid $50,000 to re-paint and re-carpet the fire chief's home and had received treatment for alcohol abuse, said his attorney, Randall Knox. Farber and Rahaim remained a couple after the incident, and had continued living together up until Farber's death, Knox said. "He seemed to be healthy," Knox said. "He was planning on going on a vacation in Europe." Farber's flight had apparently been delayed twice due to the volcanic activity in Iceland.

At the time he died, Farber's chiropractic license was in jeopardy in California. In June of 2009, the board had filed an accusation against Farber with the Attorney General's office. According to Robert Puleo, the Interim Executive Director of the chiropractic board, the accusation stemmed from the arson/tomato-crushing incident. The Attorney General's office would have decided shortly whether to revoke Farber's license, or to simply put him on probation.

Over at San Francisco's Planning Department, zoning administrator Larry Badiner is filling in for Rahaim, who has taken time off. "The department is very saddened about Lance Farber's death," Badiner said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to John Rahaim and Lance Farber and their families."

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