Legislation to move the state Board of Equalization’s operations from its troubled high-rise headquarters – at an estimated cost of $500 million – has been remodeled to conform to Gov. Jerry Brown’s more modest plan to assess how the state uses and maintains its buildings.
The measure revamped on Friday by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, starts with $2.5 million for the Department of General Services to develop a long-range plan for state buildings in the Sacramento region, including their best use and repair and maintenance needs. Assembly Bill 1656 would enshrine in statute the Brown administration‘s plan to review all of the 34 state-controlled and -owned office buildings in Sacramento County and West Sacramento, said David Gonsalves, Dickinson’s chief of staff.
The measure sets a July 1, 2015 deadline for the assessment, then requires that the state seek proposals “for the planning, design, construction, and acquisition of facilities” to replace the three buildings in the worst shape.
“We expect the (Board of Equalization) building to be in the top three,” Gonsalves said.
The Legislature would still have to approve funding for any new construction or moves to existing buildings.
For years, Dickinson and other local state lawmakers have pressed for legislation to move the tax-collecting agency out of the 24-story building at 450 N St. in downtown Sacramento. Virtually since its opening in 1993, the tower has been afflicted with water leaks. Mold followed. Other problems have included bursting and corroded pipes, falling exterior glass, a bat infestation, faulty elevators and traces of toxic chemicals.
Taxpayers have spent more than $60 million on repairs to date. Equalization officials estimate that fixing known problems – including replacing faulty exterior glass panels and repairing the towers network of crumbling waste-water pipes – will cost nearly twice that much. In addition, the state owes about $70 million in debt on the building that won’t be retired until 2021.
Earlier this month, three employees who work in the building filed a $75 million lawsuit against the state, alleging that the agency violated its duty to provide a safe workplace and for years concealed serious work site health hazards from employees.