A showdown over safety at the sinking and tilting Millennium Tower in San Francisco appeared to be averted Thursday as city building inspectors dialed back a threat to yellow tag the building as a safety hazard because of a cracked window.
That softened stance comes as new images of the interior walls appear to be cracking inside the 36th floor unit where a window suddenly failed over Labor Day weekend.
The latest clash began Wednesday, when top building inspection official Ron Tom expressed grave safety concerns over a cracked window in the tower in a letter to tower management and attorneys.
Tom went so far as to threaten to yellow tag the 58-story building as a potential hazard if all units were not inspected and safety barriers put in place by Friday to protect pedestrians from any falling glass.
“We feel this precaution is justified in order to protect the public,” Tom said of the letter on Thursday.
But he seemed satisfied about a commitment by owners to put up more scaffolding to protect pedestrians, saying it was a good step to avoid a yellow tag.
“We don’t want any incidents where we didn’t take the proper action to secure that sidewalk if it should happen,” Tom said.
Tom Miller, a lawyer for the Millennium Homeowners Association seemed relieved there apparently will be no yellow tag after all.
“We’re very hopeful that the city will not take that drastic measure,” he said, adding he expects the city will sign off on a new plan to inspect and secure the cracked window.
The new effort involves accessing and taping off the damaged window from nearby windows. It comes after an observation drone crashed Saturday.
“I understand the city’s primary charge is safety of the public,” Miller said, “and I understand this represents a public safety issue, which I think we have now contained and responded to the city in the right way.”
Meanwhile, new photos show cracks have opened up in the ceiling and between the wall and baseboards of Unit 36B.
Experts fear those cracks could be more evidence that an entire 58-story stack of windows may be coming apart from the building. That’s a threat city officials hope Millennium will take seriously.
Jerry Dodson, who lives in Millennium’s 42nd floor, worries the building’s problems are outpacing the talks on how to fix them.
“The building is going down and tilting and twisting,” he said. “So with all those three things going on, the building is not waiting to see how the mediation turns out.”