California Can’t Build Office Towers, Either

As the already-crumbling new segment Oakland Bay Bridge nears its grand-reopening – a scant quarter-century after the existing span was damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake – and doubts compound on the state’s ability to build a high speed rail system, an office tower in Sacramento stands as a cautionary warning of the state’s inability to build stuff right.

Plywood marks where windows have fallen out of the troubled BOE tower.

Plywood marks where windows have fallen out of the troubled BOE tower.

The 20-year-old, 500,000 square foot Board of Equalization Tower in Sacramento has corroding pipes, extensive mold problems, and windows that insist on falling out and crashing to the sidewalks below. The roof leaks and – only in California! – it recently suffered a bat infestation.

In 2012, a pane of glass fell out of the building as the State Board of Equalization was meeting to discuss their building’s many structural problems. It was not known if the pane that fell was an original one or one that was replaced in an earlier $15 million repair job. A subsequent $4 million repair job tried once again to repair the chronic problem, with less than stellar results.

The Sacramento Bee recently referred to the tower as “a multi-million dollar money pit” that the state is still paying for, as we California taxpayers are still paying off the bonds used to build it.

Not surprisingly to anyone who understands California’s aggressive tax policies, there’s one more problem: California needs so many tax collectors now that the the Board of Equalization has outgrown its headquarters. (“Board of Equalization” is the state’s clever disguise for its version of the IRS, as in the Progressive ideal of wealth transfer via taxes on the wealthy as a means of social equalization.)

With the tax collectors preparing to move to another location – hopefully something built by the private sector – a number of state agencies are nervously watching, dreading the possibility that they will be picked as the building’s new tenants.