SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council on Monday approved a three-year extension for having the 15-story City Hall comply with a 1986 municipal ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in high-rise buildings.
The law has a built-in exemption for government buildings, but not those owned by the City of San Diego, which has extended a deadline for its compliance numerous times. City Hall has sprinklers and fire alarms only on one-third of the floors.
The latest extension expired last week.
An extension continues a situation in which the highest-ranking city executives and mechanical areas are protected, but not other workers or the public.
Sprinklers are installed on the 10th and 11th floors, which house offices for the City Council and mayor; the 13th floor, which provides working space for the media; and the 14th and 15th floors, which hold air-conditioning and elevator machinery.
The 12th floor, where the public attends City Council meetings, is absent from the list of floors with sprinklers. Floors below the 10th, which include financial and city planning staff, along with the City Clerk's Office and the lobby, also do not have sprinklers.
The city estimates that installing sprinklers on the lower floors will cost $4.2 million, just part of a long list of expensive maintenance projects for the building.
City staff plans to contract with a firm to complete fire safety improvements to the existing building, and would return to the City Council for approval of a contract this fall. Installation would take nearly two years.
City Councilwoman Marti Emerald asked staff to "step on it" and get the plans back to the council by July.
"We want to make sure the public is safe, and the employees are safe, when they come in this building to do the public's work," Emerald said.
Several of her colleagues criticized prior City Councils for the numerous delays in installing the sprinklers.
City officials have worked with a developer on design concepts for a brand new City Hall structure, but the latest plans have not been introduced to council members.
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