San Francisco

San Francisco Leaders Balk at Funding Transit Project Tied to Sinking Millennium Tower

San Francisco officials on Tuesday balked at providing $6.8 million to the joint powers government agency, which is responsible for building the Transbay terminal complex, but is now locked in a dispute over who is to blame for the sinking Millennium Tower.

City supervisors, acting as the San Francisco transportation authority commission, voted 7 to 3 to hold off some money Transbay Joint Powers Authority is seeking for design studies related to the second phase of the $4 billion transit terminal.

The first phase is set to be complete next year, but is running well over $2 billion. The authority has been forced to take money set aside for the second phase, which would use sales tax money to extend Caltrain to the transit hub as well as serve as a station for high speed rail to Los Angeles.

After the vote, San Francisco supervisors Aaron Peskin and David Campos said they wanted to send a message in light of apparent arrogance demonstrated by the Transbay authority.

Campos said he recently met with the authority’s management team and wanted to know about the current dispute over the sinking and tilting Millennium project. Transbay authorities are legally obligated to pay Millennium for damage caused by a $58 million underground wall the authority constructed between the two projects.

Transbay says it is not responsible for the sinking, but Millennium officials say the agency construction drained water needed to keep the 58-story from sinking further into Bay mud. It currently has sunk 16 inches and is leaning two inches at the base.

“It is possible that the (authority) will be on the hook, it is legally possible ... and it is legally possible that they will come back to the city and ask for more support,” Campos said after the vote. “So we have an obligation to ensure that we hold the line and hold them accountable.”

Peskin agreed, saying: “Rather than forking over money every time they request it, I want to make sure we have good management over there, that we know what we are doing.

In light of a recent quarter billion dollar bailout by the city, Campos said, "Let’s learn from our mistakes as we move forward."

In the case of the Millennium, Peskin said: “I want to make sure that (the authority) is being very transparent about all things. They have been frankly quite secretive and not very transparent. When they are asking our agency for money, this is the time to hold them accountable.”

Meanwhile, Scott Boule, with the transbay joint powers authority, said the aency had requested funds "to advance preliminary engineering and design work for the Downtown Rail Extension."

He continued: "We will continue to work with the SFCTA Commissioners and staff to provide the information required to advance these funds." 

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