The State Worker

New leak found at BOE building as Jerry Brown signs state building review law

With new repairs starting over the weekend at the troubled Board of Equalization building, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a measure aimed at eventually moving state employees out of the downtown Sacramento high rise.

Assembly Bill 1656 allocates $2.5 million to assess state buildings in the Sacramento area and sets a July 2015 deadline to develop a long-range plan for managing them.

The review also will identify the three facilities in the worst condition as first in line for replacement. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, said he was “delighted” that Brown signed the measure and predicted that Equalization’s 24-story tower will easily qualify as one of the state’s worst facilities.

“It’s the most catastrophic disaster” in the state’s building inventory, he said.

Equalization officials also praised the plan.

“With the BOE building literally falling apart, the state needs to relocate the BOE headquarters,” board Vice Chairman Michelle Steel said in a press release.. “AB 1656, at the very least, will move this long-stalled process forward.”

The measure Brown signed doesn’t commit the hundreds of millions of dollars that a new facility would cost. Lawmakers would have to approve those funds later. Dickinson, who is running for Sacramento’s state Senate seat against fellow Democrat Richard Pan, said he’s “not going to let this issue go” if he wins the election.

The tax board’s headquarters has become a monument to government inefficiency and inaction with a 22-year history of toxic mold, structural water leaks, contaminated air ducts, unreliable elevators, falling exterior glass panels and a network of corroded waste-water pipes.

The latest repairs start at the close of business Friday after wet ceiling tiles in a 24th-floor conference room were found on Sept. 10 caused by a clogged drain line serving an elevator-cooling unit. The leak also affected a wall and a few carpet tiles. The Department of General Services will began repair work after business hours, according to a memo to the 1,900 or so employees who work in the building.

Taxpayers have spent more than $60 million on repairs so far, with roughly $115 million more in repairs to go. The state, which purchased the 24-story tower from CalPERS several years ago, owes about $70 million to bondholders. The debt won’t be paid off until 2021.

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