Supervisor Calls for Second Opinion of ‘Bizarre’ Report on Millennium Tower Window Crack

A San Francisco city supervisor who has sought to expose problems at the troubled Millennium Tower was quick to dismiss an engineering firm’s findings that an unknown external impact caused cracking of a 36th floor window over Labor Day.

“This report is frankly bizarre,” city Supervisor Aaron Peskin said Wednesday.

“It comes to a conclusion that the window cracking was due to an external impact but they give absolutely no evidence whatsoever that anybody can rely on.”

NBC Bay Area first reported the crack that occurred suddenly at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 1 after one resident heard creaking in the building. Since that discovery, the city has ordered scaffolding down below to protect pedestrians and required window inspections of more than 400 other units.

The Department of Building Inspection separately ordered that the homeowners hire a consultant to determine what role the tower’s tilting and sinking may have played in the window crack. Palo Alto-based Allana, Buick and Bers had not been able to rule that initially, but in a report issued Tuesday night, the firm excludes tilting and settlement.

“We have conclusively determined that the breakage in unit 36B is unrelated to building movement and settlement,” the firm concluded in a report that points to a spot on the window where engineers believe something hit the window. Just what that impact was from was not clear.

On Wednesday, another homeowners’ consultant, LERA, which had been hired to develop a fix for the tilting problem, agreed that tilting was not the cause.

Armed with that finding, Howard Dickstein, the newly elected president of the homeowners association, wrote to the city Department of Building Inspection urging that the city allow them to call off mass window inspections and take down protective scaffolding. Dickstein said the association has complied with all the city’s demands and those safety measures are no longer necessary.

“They may be expressing a particular desire but whether or not staff agrees with that remains to be seen,” said William Strawn, spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection.

Peskin says he has made up his mind about what to do after reviewing the ABB report. He says he is particularly troubled that back in the spring, the firm relied on inspections of several units on the south side of the tower – away from the northeast corner where the tilting is concentrated.

“Look, we all want this to be a one-off event,” he said Wednesday. “And we hope that it’s not a function of the building’s continued settlement and tilting. But we need an independent report. I’m not taking ABB’s word for it. Our department of building inspection needs to insist that a second report be done.”

But Strawn says the city is not in the habit of seeking second opinions.

“Typically, because engineers are licensed by the state, we do give them credibility,’’ Strawn said. “Their license is on the line when they make recommendations. I think the presumption has always been that yes of course they are giving a professional evaluation that is trustworthy.”

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