The State Worker

Nearly half of state-owned office buildings outside Sacramento would be up for sale under new plan

The department in charge of California’s state-owned buildings wants to sell or get rid of nearly half its office buildings outside Sacramento, according to a newly published plan.

State workers in San Jose, Fresno and San Diego would be affected soonest, according to a Department of General Services proposal that calls for disposing of nine of 21 state-owned buildings around the state.

The 10-year plan calls for the state to start the process of selling buildings in those cities this year or next year. The process, which requires legislative approval, would take 18 months to two years, according to the plan.

The plan also recommends selling or otherwise disposing of offices in Stockton, Redding, Red Bluff, Santa Rosa and Los Angeles, but does not specify timelines for those.

The buildings, most of which house multiple departments, are an average 50 years old. Many are inefficient and some contain hazardous materials, according to the plan, and tenants at some of the buildings have reported vandalism and security concerns.

“Without intervention, these buildings will continue to degrade and will cost taxpayers more to address later than through a proactive approach,” the department said in the plan.

Employees who work in the buildings in the larger cities likely could move to leased spaces, while those in the smaller cities might need new buildings, the plan says.

Steve Crouch, the director of public employees for the International Union of Operating Engineers, acknowledged many of the buildings on the list need to be replaced but said he is concerned about the jobs of workers who clean and maintain them.

“We’ve got stationary engineers and we’ve got maintenance mechanics that keep these buildings up,” Crouch said. “What happens to them?”

A Department of General Services spokeswoman said the department doesn’t anticipate layoffs as a result of the proposal.

“This is an initial plan only and that no building is guaranteed to be sold or otherwise subject to disposition,” spokeswoman Jennifer Iida said in a statement. “Any future changes are dependent on a variety of factors including budgetary funding, legislative approval and market conditions.”

He said he was hopeful the workers could be transferred to jobs with Caltrans, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or other departments in their areas.

The document’s plan says it will adhere to an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom to pursue affordable housing projects on excess state-owned property.

The state owns 58 general purpose office buildings around the state, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, with the majority in Sacramento.

The Department of General Services also has a 10-year-plan for Sacramento that includes constructing or renovating 11 state office buildings.