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Dilemma at City Hall


Aired 4/19/09


The San Diego City Council has asked the city attorney to assess the city’s legal liability if it does NOT install fire  sprinkler systems at city hall. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.


The city of San Diego passed an ordinance more than 20 years ago, requiring sprinklers in high rise buildings. But it has postponed several times a decision on the expensive step of installing sprinklers in city hall.


A rough estimate suggests it could cost $5 million. But Council President Ben Hueso says  other things need fixing as well.


Hueso: The current report is somewhere around $35 million  of unmet needs. If we are just going to turn around and do that, it may be pouring money down the drain into a facility that does not fit our current needs.


The Council is split over a plan to build a new Civic Center, which some say would save money in the long run.


Councilwoman Marti Emerald is pushing to upgrade the existing building.


Emerald : This city council needs to be a leader when it comes to keeping the public safe, especially in its own building


Currently, the public has to take elevators to the 12th floor for council meetings, which makes emergency evacuations difficult.


Replacing the current city hall, which is less than 50 years old, is estimated at over $700 million .


Alison St John, KPBS news.


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