Elevated Tension At City Hall

With half its main elevator cars currently being serviced, the public’s time is being wasted, and grumbling is growing.

Jaime Fox-Rice was about 15 minutes late for a lunch meeting (with me). The chief of staff for District 3 city councilmember Todd Gloria blamed her tardiness on elevator delays in city hall.

Smelled like a story.

Two of the four main elevators that ferry hundreds of city employees, as well as serve as main access point for the public to their elected representatives, were closed this week. An “elevator modernization” program has been in effect for several months.

Phone calls made to several council offices turned up a great deal of grumbles and groans—but nobody wanted to complain on the record.

“Nobody knows why two of the four are out right now,” says one senior council staff member. “People are corked about it. There are some people—like those in wheelchairs—that really need an elevator.”

Another senior council staffer said 10-15-minute waits for the elevator are now routine. And that staff arriving late for meetings due to intra-building travel has become commonplace.

One veteran council staff member joked that the delays may cause city staff to lose weight, since many get frustrated and take to the stairs; but not her, unfortunately, because she almost always wears high-heeled shoes.

Footwear notwithstanding, a great deal of public employee time is currently being squandered waiting for elevators in San Diego’s antiquated city hall.

A sign posted in the lobby near the elevators says the target completion date for modernizing the elevators is October 9. Building manager Glen Simpsonn says engineers and the project manager picked August to work on two cars at one time because “It’d have the least impact, since no legislative action is taken this month, so fewer people are here.”

Simpsonn predicts two cars will be out of service at the same time for “another week to 10 days.” Meanwhile, if you have business at city hall, leave a little early. Or—unless you are Spiderman—wear comfortable climbing shoes. 

Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.

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