San Francisco

San Francisco Extends Deadline for Window Safety Inspections

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Satisfied with the response so far from six high-rise buildings where windows failed in last month’s windstorms, San Francisco building officials said Wednesday they’re relaxing mandates that the buildings have all their windows inspected within 14 days.   

When they originally cited the buildings last month, Department of Building Inspection officials specified the 14-day deadline for licensed architects or engineers to report back on the findings of complete façade inspections. But officials say they’re satisfied that owners are cooperating in meeting the challenge of arranging mass inspections of hundreds of windows.

 But, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin was quick to say the city still needs reports on what triggered the string of failures as soon as possible.

“Time is of the essence,” he said. “The city needs this data so we can determine what caused these failures and understand what steps need to be taken to prevent future failures. This is a critical life safety matter.”

The  owners of 555 California St. – where the first window failure happened on March 14 – have been cooperative and were the first to be given more time to complete the inspections required under a notice of violation, said Patrick Hannan, spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection.

The other five buildings had apparent wind-related failures on or after March 21. First at the 50 California Street building, then high-rises at 350 Mission, 301 Mission and 1400 Mission Streets. The next day, inspectors issued a citation related to a broken window at Fox Plaza on Market Street.

The deadline has now passed for all those owners to produce reports, said Department of Building Inspection spokesman Patrick Hannan. But he added city officials are satisfied that the owners have secured the windows and have protected the surrounding areas from the potential for falling glass.

“The consecutive storm events delayed the building managers’ ability to conduct exterior façade evaluations,” Hannan said, “but we are in ongoing communication with the building management for these properties and confirm progress is being made on the reports.”

As a result of the six failures, the city has announced it is ordering façade inspections for 71 newer buildings that are 15 or more stories. Because they were buiilt after 1998, the 71 buildings had been exempt from initial inspections for 30 years after being built under the city’s code.

The deadline to complete those inspections is Nov. 1, according to legislation introduced this week by Supervisor Peskin. Three of the buildings that had windows fail last month, all along Mission Street – had been exempt. However, the city had already required the Millennium Tower at 301 Mission to be inspected after a window failed there in 2020.

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