SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Plagued with rat problems, sewage leaks and asbestos, some say San Francisco’s Hall of Justice has become a hall of horrors.
But now the city has a chance to move its offices from Bryant Street to a new location on Rhode Island Street.
The problems at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street have been well documented. The deteriorating buildings walls are marked with rust, peeling paint and – even more frightening – human waste.
Built in 1958, it houses the District Attorney’s office, a jail with 300 to 400 inmates, several police offices and criminal courts.
“Earlier this year, we had a sewage flood that took out multiple offices,” said San Francisco District Attorney spokesman Max Szabo. “About 35 to 40 people had to be evacuated. The entire domestic violence unit downstairs had sewage flooding through the roof onto people below.”
After the flood, a union meeting to discuss squalid working conditions had to be canceled because the room they were going to meet in was also flooded with sewage.
“The irony of that was lost on absolutely no one,” said Szabo.
30 years ago, the city was alerted to the fact that the building is unsafe and likely to crumble in a major earthquake, leaving prisoners trapped and the city without a criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, through boom and bust at City Hall at San Francisco, the Hall of Justice was left to deteriorate.
But that could finally change Tuesday.
“Tomorrow the Board of Supervisors is going to vote on a negotiated lease to get about 500 people out of this aging, dilapidated, seismically unsafe building that has asbestos, lead paint,” said Szabo. “It’s a very bad place to be working every day.”
The lease is for 15 years and will cost a total of $150 million. But not everyone at the board is convinced renting the new space is a good idea.
District 11 Supervisor Asha Safai wants more information.
“My essential question is: 15 years at $150 million, is there another option? Is there an option to potentially purchase a building?” asked Safai.
But he knows something needs to be done.
“100 percent we want to respect the health and safety of the people who work in those buildings,” said Safai. “And this conversation has been happening for some time.”
The city owns 850 Bryant and the property the Hall of Justice is on. The current plan are to move the people currently working there to new locations, demolish the old building, and raise a new structure before moving those offices back to the location.