Frequently Asked Questions & Information

Jaime Garza
Deputy Director
External Affairs Department
916-327-8988

Frequently Asked Questions/Information

Who owns the building?

The building at 450 N Street is owned by the Department of General Services (DGS).  The Board of Equalization is a tenant and pays monthly rent to occupy the space.

Who is responsible for the maintenance of the building?

The Department of General Services is responsible for all aspects of building maintenance including janitorial services.

What led to the closure of floors 22, 23 and 24?

On approximately September 24, 2007 DGS moved modular furniture away from the walls the vacant 23rd floor workspace for purposes of repainting.  BOE management noticed some discoloration and potential water damage on these walls and notified DGS.  DGS inspected, and opened up some of the wall cavities for inspection.  During the wall cavity inspections, potential fungal growth was observed on and between layers of drywall on portions of the 23rd in 22nd floor.  On September 27, 2007 BOE management closed the south side of the 23rd floor and the entire 22nd floor as a precaution, pending a complete assessment to identify the nature and scope of the fungal growth and to locate the source of moisture giving rise to it. 

Subsequent air testing by DGS showed the presence of mold spores, including Stachybotrys and or Chaetomium, which, according to consultants, are often indicators of a water intrusion problem. It is suspected that the water intrusion associated with the observed mold growth and indicator spores are related to the exterior decks located on the 23rd floor, and above suspect areas on the 22nd floor. These floors have remained closed, and will remain closed pending a complete assessment to identify the nature and scope of any water intrusion and any resulting fungal growth.

On October 4, 2007 a similar visual examination was conducted on the 24th floor.  Potential mold growth was observed above a ceiling tile. Testing confirmed the presence Stachybotrys above the ceiling tile.

Subsequent air testing showed a presence of Stachybotrys spores.  It is anticipated that the water intrusion giving rise to the observations and test results came from roof leaks directly above the 24th floor. As a precautionary measure, the 24th floor was also closed, pending a complete assessment to identify the nature and scope of any water intrusion and resulting fungal growth.

Why hasn't the rest of the building been closed and evacuated?

Following the closures of the 22nd, 23rd and 24th floors, DGS conducted air sampling on several other floors of the building.  Their in-house hygienist performed the tests and advised BOE that the results of these tests were "normal."   DGS' testing was analyzed by an outside hygienist -- Sterling and Associates.  In an October 29, 2007 written report, Sterling reports that the "none of the ambient air samples collected" from floors 21, 20, 17, 14, 12, 11, 8, 3, 2 and 1 "identified significantly elevated or abnormal fungal levels on the days of testing." 

We understand that DGS testing did not cover all of the floors.  In an effort to obtain additional information on these floors, and other floors, we have set up a survey questionnaire to be filled out by our employees should they see or smell anything they believe is mold or water intrusion related.  Hygiene Technologies is reviewing these surveys, and inspecting the locations identified in them.

Once again, if anybody reading this is aware of any condition or circumstance that would be helpful to the assessment, please take the time to fill out the survey form and report it.

Who are the consultants the Board of Equalization has retained?

The Board of Equalization has retained the industrial hygiene firm of Hygiene Technologies International, Inc. (HygieneTech) as our consultant on the building investigation.  Their web page is located at http://www.hygienetech.com.  The BOE has also retained American Technologies Inc., a remediation and restoration company to assist in the relocation efforts. Their web page is located at http://www.amer-tech.com.  Finally, the BOE has retained physician Steven Munday M.D. as our health and medical consultant.  Click here for a link to his résumé.

Who is doing the assessment and remediation of the building?

At this time, consultants for both BOE, and DGS are engaged in assessments of the building.  We have seen flyers indicating that SEIU has also retained a consultant.  The remediation will be done by DGS' consultants.  As a tenant, BOE is not able to perform any type of destructive testing or construction on the building.

What is the Board of Equalization's role in the current investigation and assessment of the building?

The BOE is taking an active role in the investigation and assessment of the building. The BOE's environmental consultants are evaluating test data provided by DGS' consultants, responding to employee surveys, and performing some environmental testing in the building.  They are also reviewing the assessment and remediation protocols from DGS' consultants.  BOE's goal is to protect the health and welfare of its employees and believes the only way to do so is to participate in this process.

What was the Board of Equalization's role in prior investigations and assessments of the building?

In the past, BOE has relied upon investigations and consultants hired by the Department of General services.

Why has the Board of Equalization changed its role?

The health and safety of our employees is our primary concern.  We believe the retention of consultants, and their active participation in the investigation and assessment process is the best way for us to act on that concern.

What is the role of SEIU, or other unions in the assessment and remediation process?

We have invited SEIU to participate in the investigation process.  To date, they have not responded to our invitation. We have no knowledge of the scope of any actual investigation they are conducting, if any.

When will the assessment and remediation and be completed?

There is no set date for completion.  Our goal is to take as much time as is needed to investigate and remediate any problems found in the building.  At this time, the primary focus is on floors 22, 23 and 24.

The time it will take to investigate and remediate those floors will depend on what is found, if anything, during the investigation of each floor. As to the other floors, we have asked our consultants to investigate information given to us in the employee surveys, or through e-mails.  Once the work is completed on floors 22 through 24, the focus will shift to the remainder of the building.  If any conditions are found on the other floors (1 - 21) that warrant of attention sooner, they will be addressed.

Why is it taking so long?

This investigation is a process. This process started with the retention of consultants.  Those consultants needed to inspect the building and review historic records to identify areas of concern.  The next step is the preparation of a remediation plan.  Before the investigation or remediation on any floor can occur, the floor must be cleared of all personal property.  Once that is done, the remediation will be done.  There are many steps to the remediation process, including setting up of containment areas, destructive testing, visual inspections, removal of any contaminated building materials, identification and repair of any water intrusion sources, clearance testing and restoration of the areas.  This process takes time, and we want it done right.

Where can I get information on mold?

We recommend that you educate yourself on mold through numerous sources.  Information is available on the Building Assessment Webpage.

What do I do if I believe I am experiencing health effects from the building?

If you believe you're being adversely affected by something in the building, we recommend you go see your own personal doctor.  Nurses, paramedics, or medical personnel that are not trained on environmental exposures and who do not know your complete medical history may not be qualified to provide you with accurate medical assessment and information. If your doctor needs any information on the building, have them contact us through the e-mail system on this web page and we will do our best to get them the information they need regarding your work environment.

What do I do if I believe my health is being affected by exposure to items that came from the building?

We are not in a position to give you specific medical advice.  But we do recommend that if you believe your health is being adversely affected in the building, or by exposure to items that came from the building, that you see your personal physician.  We further recommend that you advise your physician to contact us to get the environmental testing data to assist in their evaluation and diagnosis of you.

Can I make a worker's compensation claim if I believe I've been injured by exposure to indoor air contaminants or mold at the BOE building or from materials that came from the BOE building?

Yes.  You should request Employee's Workers' Comp Claim Forms (SCIF 3301's) and BOE's procedures should be followed for reporting new workers' compensation claims.  Those procedures are listed below:

If an employee believes him/herself to have suffered a work related injury or illness and is in need medical treatment, and has a predesignated personal physician to provide them medical treatment in the event of a work related injury/illness, the employee may seek immediate medical treatment with that doctor.  If there is no predesignated doctor, the employee must go to Kaiser Occupational Medicine either on Morse Ave or Bruceville Road for medical treatment relating to this injury.  The employee’s supervisor will need to make the initial appointment at Kaiser for you and provide you with a treatment referral form.  When the appointment is made, Kaiser will ask for information from the employee.  If you seek medical treatment on the date of injury, the time absent is considered ATO.  If medical treatment is sought on any date other than the date of injury, the employee must use their leave credits or dock and indicate Pending WC on their 634 next to the date absent.  State Compensation Insurance Fund will review all absences and make the determination as to whether the time is approved.

The injured/ill employee will also need to obtain an Employee's Claim Form for Workers' Compensation Benefits (form 3301). It is required that your supervisor give or send form 3301 to you within one working day of your date of knowledge of the injury, Guide to Workers' Compensation and Guide to the State Fund MPN for State of California Employees. Your supervisor will need to complete an Employer's Report of Occupational Injury or Illness (form 3067). This form is required to be forwarded to the Workers’ Compensation Section within 48 hours of knowledge that an injury resulting in medical treatment or time missed from work has occurred.

The addresses and telephone numbers for Kaiser Occupational Medicine, the treatment referral form, guides, forms 3301 and 3067, directions for completing forms 3301 and 3067, plus a lot more valuable information is on eBOE under the Admin tab, Personnel Management, Workers' Compensation.

* The questions and answers set forth above are a synthesis of several inquiries or a method of communication of certain information that the BOE would like to share with the readers of this web page.