The State Worker

Work scheduled for troubled tax agency building

Safety work on the Board of Equalization building have been postponed.
Safety work on the Board of Equalization building have been postponed. Sacramento Bee file

Update: Board officials announced that the work planned for Saturday would be postponed to a date yet to be determined. The memo to employees from Deputy Director Edna Murphy said the work would have interfered with state civil service testing scheduled for the tower’s cafeteria.

Maintenance workers will start early Saturday morning at Board of Equalization’s faulty office tower, according to an agency memo issued this week.

No, they won’t start work on the crumbling drain pipes that run throughout the downtown Sacramento building’s core. They won’t be prepping to replace hundreds of exterior glass panels that could pop off and crash to the ground. They’re not fixing another burst water line.

The weekend work, scheduled to start at 6 a.m. and end 12 hours later, will replace clamps on the corners of scaffolding that skirts the building to keep pedestrians safe from those hazardous glass panels. (The Equalization memo calls the scaffolding a “covered walkway.”)

So when will more substantive work start? Department of General Services spokesman Brian Ferguson said that remains months away. “Early 2016,” he said, “at the earliest.”

The scope of the work required for those big projects was only recently written up, Ferguson said, and the state will have to figure out where to put employees when repair work begins.

The new work will add to the $60 million or so that taxpayers have already spent on repairs to the 24-story structure so far for exterior glass replacement, toxic mold cleanup, water-leak prevention, burst water and corroded drain pipe repairs, fixes to unreliable elevators, eliminating a bat colony and more.

That doesn’t include tens of millions still owed bondholders for the building’s purchase or the undisclosed cost of a court settlement with employees a few years ago. Another multimillion-dollar claim says department executives knew the building wasn’t safe but told employees otherwise.

The bizarre defects of 450 N St. have made it the butt of jokes. A new parody Twitter account, @BOE_Building delights in the tower’s long history of problems and expensive fixes.

One of the latest tweets: “The Bay Bridge, High Speed Rail and I all walk into a bar...”