San Francisco

SF Supervisor Calls Hearing of City Officials on Millennium Tower Sinking Troubles

Aaron Peskin aims to find out why inspectors failed to alert the public about building's movement back in 2009

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin said Tuesday he will summon top city officials to account at a hearing next week on the Millennium Tower’s sinking troubles.

Peskin said at a City Hall news conference that he wants to know why the city’s Department of Building Inspection failed to alert the public after being told by the developer in early February 2009 that the building had sunk more than expected.

He said several officials will be called before his government audit committee on Sept. 22 about what the city knew and when.

“I am here today because this is of profound concern to the city of San Francisco,” he said, adding that he has been reviewing 1,600 pages of documents the city disclosed in response to NBC Bay Area’s recent Public Records Act request.

NBC Bay Area
San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

In a letter he sent Monday to the city’s top building inspection official, Tom Hui, Peskin chided the city about the gaps in the records disclosed so far. Peskin told Hui that the agency’s responses “seem woefully incomplete,” and he demanded to know “what documents were not turned over and why.”

Peskin said Tuesday that the documents that have been released “raise significantly more questions than answers – there are huge gaps in the record.”

Peskin stressed one particularly glaring gap is what Millennium officials said when confronted by city inspectors about the greater than expected rate of sinking in February 2009.

“There is no answer in the record as to the responses here,” Peskin said. Just months later, the city issued paperwork to authorize occupancy without alerting owners.

“I believe the city and county of San Francisco had a duty to the public, including potential future buyers, to disclose what we know. The public should be aware of that,” Peskin said.

Peskin said that he now fears “some level of political interference” was involved, but did not detail what such interference might have entailed.

“We here at the Board of Supervisors have the duty and the obligation to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

Millennium Partners released a statement late Tuesday following Peskin’s news conference. In that statement, the builder denies any special treatment from any city agency and assures that the building is safe. It goes on to say, “We hope city officials will bring the same level of energy and attention to the ultimate solutions in this matter as they do to rumors, innuendo, and today’s press conference.”

Also on Tuesday, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority – which previously could not explain why its chief engineer marked an early 2010 account of the sinking levels confidential – issued a statement about the confidentiality issue.

On Monday, the city attorney blamed the agency for marking two sets of data confidential by mistake.

The authority agreed to that version of events on Tuesday. It said it labeled one report about the sinking problem confidential by mistake in light of a Feb. 26, 2010, confidentiality agreement. Once it learned of that mistake, the agency said in a statement it “did not designate any further monitoring reports as confidential.”

Besides, the agency said, nothing prevented Millennium from disclosing any of the nearly 30 monitoring reports that the agency prepared. However, it was not until July 2016 that the agency alerted Millennium it was not going to honor the confidentiality agreement.

Read the full statement from Millennium Partners here:

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