Scaffolding purchase prompts blast from California Board of Equalization chairman

07/24/2014 8:02 PM

10/22/2014 2:17 PM

Work crews this weekend will replace leased scaffolding outside the defective Board of Equalization headquarters with scaffolding purchased by the state, prompting board Chairman Jerome Horton to blast the Brown administration for failing to find a new facility for the agency.

Horton said Thursday that while the change may make financial sense in the short term, it sends a signal that the Department of General Services intends to keep Equalization’s 2,200 or so employees in the troubled building. The downtown Sacramento structure has a history of toxic mold, defective elevators, leaking windows, corroded wastewater pipes, floods, and exterior glass panels that spontaneously break or pop off. Employees have blamed some illnesses on the building, and Horton and other board members want a new facility for the tax-collecting department.

Horton said General Services’ decision to move from renter to owner is “officially making the scaffolding permanent” around an “irreparably broken building” that sparked a $50 million tort claim earlier this month. The board has paid out $2.3 million in connection with building-related employee injury claims.

“We have to relocate these affected BOE employees and consolidate our operations,” Horton said.

Work crews on Friday will start switching out the plywood-and-pipe structure, aiming to finish the job Sunday. The equipment will be used for other projects when it is no longer needed at the 450 N St. tower, officials have said.

Taxpayers have spent about $60 million on repairs to the 21-year-old building. Pending fixes to its corroded sink-and-toilet-water system and to replace faulty exterior glass panels will cost another $115 million, according to a board estimate, plus the unknown cost of disrupting operations.

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