Talk Of New San Diego City Hall Continues
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Aired 10/4/11 on KPBS News.
It’s been called the project that won’t go away. The San Diego City Council is once again talking about a new city hall.
SAN DIEGO The council was talking about a new city hall because it had to. Councilmembers are obligated to respond to County Grand Jury Reports, and a recent report got into the deplorable conditions at the current City Hall, which include problems with the building’s major mechanical systems, a bad roof and asbestos.
San Diego has floated the idea of building a new city hall, which would cost nearly $300 million, and voters were going to weigh in on the issue last fall. But a measure to fund a new building got pulled from the ballot after supporters suspected it would fail. Since then the idea has been largely stalled, without anyone championing the idea.
Opponents of a new building say there are other options. For instance, San Diego currently leases office space for some employees. City Councilman Carl DeMaio said renegotiating those leases could save money. He said San Diego has adopted a build-or-bust mentality when it comes to the city hall project.
“Either we will build it, or the threat is we will bust,” he said. “That we will get to the end of these leases and suddenly we will be at the mercy of the landlords.”
DeMaio said the city should take advantage of the current buyers market in commercial real estate.
However, Councilman Todd Gloria said the issue keeps coming up because the current city hall has serious issues, which he said have become more apparent recently.
“It was only a few weeks ago the mayor’s office had a serious leak in the roof. Water was coming through,” he said. “Some of you may recall, after the blackout we didn’t have the use of our bathrooms for several hours because the plumbing here wasn’t working appropriately.”
Gloria has said the public would get behind the project if they saw how rundown the building is. He said he’ll hold an open house if need be to give the public that chance.
Council President Tony Yong has said he envisions a shared government building downtown that could contain offices for local, state and federal agencies.