The UC Berkeley professor who vouched that the Millennium Tower foundation met building codes now suggests failure of the now sinking building amounts to an act of God, not man.
“Well, you know, the responsible party may be the earth that God gave us,” Jack Moehle said after he testified at a hearing on the ill-fated building that has now sunk 16 inches and is leaning.
“There may be some characteristics at this particular site that's unusual for a geotechnical engineering application, I don't know,” Moehle said. “Everybody wants to find a person to be responsible. Sometimes it's not a person. Sometimes it's a set of circumstances beyond individuals.”
Moehle signed two letters vouching for the project and its foundation, including one sent in January 2006 that opines the foundation complied with building codes.
At a hearing overseen by Supervisor Aaron Peskin on Thursday, Moehle stressed his opinion on the foundation was limited to the code compliance. He said he was not qualified to actually declare that the foundation would “work.”
Jerry Dodson, who lives in the building and is suing the city, the developer and the public agency that built a transit terminal blamed for destabilizing the building, scoffed at Moehle’s remarks about God being to blame.
Dodson said the Millennium is a man-made debacle.
“Who is Moehle trying to kid?” Dodson said. “He knew full well that the soil under the Millennium Tower is on landfill and should have gone to bedrock.”