The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 11, 2011
Headquarters problems prompt Equalization staff meetings

Thumbnail image for 110829 BOE HQ.JPGThe Board of Equalization is in the midst of employee meetings scheduled for today and Wednesday to talk about its leaky, mold-infested, mechanically unreliable, slightly toxic headquarters at 450 N St. in Sacramento.

The building has been a money pit for the state and an unnerving place to work for many of the 2,900 or so employees who work there. The building's landlord, the Department of General Services, has spent millions of dollars on things like replacing leaky windows, fixing busted pipes, cleaning up toxic mold and repairing malfunctioning elevators.

Recently, employees complained of an odor on the 21st floor of the building after it had been cleaned up. Inspectors found low levels of benzene and carbon disulfide. Although the amounts detected were within government limits, officials still had to post signs noting the presence of toxics at the worksite.

Repairs shut down one of two elevators to the building's garage. That put an excessive workload on the functioning elevator, causing its motor to overheat and shut down.

The work on the elevators is done and "entrapments are fewer," said board spokeswoman Anita Gore. Another company will inspect the work to make sure it was done correctly, she said.

Inspectors also found mold in a heating and air conditioning unit. Air tests haven't detected any toxics from the unit, Gore said. Mold has plagued the 24-story building since at least 2007. DGS launched remediation work not long after that. The work should be done by the end of 2011.

The BOE's five members called for the town hall meetings to give employees a chance to ask questions and express their concerns about the building, Gore said. "It's not the first time that we've done this," she said this afternoon.

The BOE leases the property and wants to move into another facility. Even if the building is clean and works correctly, it's too small, Gore said, since it's designed for 2,200 employees. The board leases space around Sacramento, but "we would love to come together in one complex," she said.

Here's the e-mail from BOE Executive Director Kristine Cazadd about the meetings. This link opens the BOE's "Headquarters Building Assessment" page, which chronicles the structure's history, and links to various reports and updates.

PHOTO: The Board of Equalization headquarters at 450 N. Street in Sacramento / Sacramento Bee file photo.


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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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