The State Worker

State issues schedule for California tax HQ building’s repairs

Scaffolding surrounds the Board of Equalization building as a precaution against falling panels and window panes in Sacramento on Monday, June 12, 2014. The Board of Equalization headquarters has become California's unofficial state money pit, a tower of terror with a litany of defects that include exterior glass panels that fall without warning and leaky windows and corroded toilet waste pipes and toxic mold.
Scaffolding surrounds the Board of Equalization building as a precaution against falling panels and window panes in Sacramento on Monday, June 12, 2014. The Board of Equalization headquarters has become California's unofficial state money pit, a tower of terror with a litany of defects that include exterior glass panels that fall without warning and leaky windows and corroded toilet waste pipes and toxic mold. bnguyen@sacbee.com

More than three years after an exterior glass panel fell eight floors and nearly struck a passerby, the state has announced a schedule to start repairs on downtown Sacramento’s 24-story punchline, the Board of Equalization Building.

Actually, it’s an agenda of hoop jumping that will lead to scheduling the sledgehammers and nails. Here’s the timeline: put together a team (last month), develop a design, finalize the scope of the work to be done and determine the impact on the tax-collecting agency’s operations (now through December), a working drawing phase (the first half of next year) and then pull the necessary permits from state and local agencies by September 2016.

The “HQ Renovation Project” will start sometime in 2017, according to a recent message to agency employees by agency Executive Director Cynthia Bridges.

No contractors have yet been selected to perform the work, which will include “repair, replacement, and upgrades,” Bridges wrote, to the building’s heating and air conditioning system, its primary and low-voltage electrical systems, its corroded the drain lines and vents and its fire-safety systems. Those precarious prone-to-pop-off glass panels will be replaced with aluminum. And the project will bring the 23-year-old building up to Americans with Disabilities Act code.

The fixes will add untold tens of millions of dollars to the $60 million-plus taxpayers have already spent on repairs so far to seal leaks, replace burst water lines and repair water damage, remove toxic mold, remove bats, repair unreliable elevators and to continuously monitor air quality for toxics. Scaffolding has skirted the building’s base since 2012 to protect pedestrians from glass panels that might pop off without warning.

The board, which collects $60 billion annually in taxes and fees and hears tax appeals, wants to get out of the problem-plagued building. The prospects for that dimmed last week with a new study of state-controlled office buildings that concluded 15 other properties were in worse condition. The Brown administration has said those findings would shape its priorities for replacing and repairing state workplaces.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the BOE had exterminated invasive bats.

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