SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — City Hall in San Jose is only 14 years old, but the building’s cooling system is apparently out of date.
“It’s very uncomfortable in here. As you can see, I’m sweating,” said Stephen Bishop, a developer who came to City Hall for building permits. Like others, he was literally sweating out the process.
“It’s almost hotter in here than it is out there. It’s kind of muggy,” he said.
City Hall officials say the problem lies deep in the building’s basement. It’s where a computer system regulates the air conditioning.
The computer showed indoor temperatures from the low 70’s to the mid 80’s.
A facilities manager says the air conditioning hardware is working just fine, but the 1990s era software that runs the system is proprietary, old and glitchy.
“There are times when it doesn’t operate exactly how we are programming it to operate,” said Deputy Director of Public Works Walter Lin.
It leaves some areas too cold and others too hot, especially in the west-facing city council offices.
“It’s unbearable in here! Sometimes it feels like a sauna. I’ve had to leave early because it’s too difficult to work in here,” said City Councilmember Johnny Khamis.
Office managers have passed around fans and, in some meeting rooms, installed portable air conditioners. But some complained the portable AC units are too noisy to keep on during meetings.
The city council recently approved a new computer control system for the AC with open-source technology that will be easier to maintain. Unfortunately, it’s going to cost the city $9 million.
“As you know, software is more expensive than hardware,” said Khamis.
The city says it will take about a year to fully install.
In the meantime, two big portable AC units are on standby at city council chambers for when the weather and/or the topics are too hot to handle.