Lawsuit filed over Child Development Center repair

Visible exterior corrosion engulfs the Project buildings of the CDC in the Orfalea Family Center, located on the corner of Phelan and Judson avenues of the Ocean Campus on Monday, May 11. (Photo by Natasha Dangond)
Visible exterior corrosion engulfs the Project buildings of the CDC in the Orfalea Family Center, located on the corner of Phelan and Judson avenues of the Ocean Campus on Monday, May 11. (Photo by Natasha Dangond)

by Natasha Dangond

After battling in court for two years over the restoration of the Child Development Center (CDC,) San Francisco Community College District (SFCCD) will go to trial with the Indiana based Hunt Construction Group, in June 2016.

Due to the rusting and paint corrosion of the building, a plan to move the children in the CDC into a temporary location until the Project is rebuilt is currently being set in motion.

SFCCD contracted Hunt to build the Wellness Center, Student Health Center and CDC Buildings (referred to as the “Projects” in the 2005 general obligation bond ) in 2005. The contract stated that Hunt was to “perform general contractor services on the Projects.”

The contract included an indemnity provision, stating that Hunt would be liable for any property damage and losses resulting from negligence by its subcontractors, MKTHINK and Project Frog.

Litigation Ensues

After the projects were said to be completed,  the SFCCD received a report in October 2011 which determined that the cause of the progressive paint corrosion of the buildings was a direct result of negligence, not incomplete work.

On September 24, 2013, the first complaint was brought to Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, by the SFCCD after numerous efforts requesting Hunt and its subcontractors fix the paint corrosion that developed from inadequate labor.

SFCCD representatives recognized various items of incomplete work, following a punch list of work for Hunt and its subcontractors to fix. Following this complaint, investigations and corrective work were provided by Defendant Hunt Construction, and its subcontractors.

However, “each of the Defendants denied liability and refused to assist the District in any remediation efforts related to the rust issues and Defendants’ work under the contract”, the complaint stated.

In January 2014, Hunt answered the complaint stating that SFCCD “breached to its obligation to properly maintain the facility,” leading to the cause of any damages it may have sustained, “and is therefore barred from seeking the relief it prays against Defendants, and each of them.”

An initial inspection was held in November of 2014, and the parties are currently awaiting a scope of claims/ cost of repair report from the SFCCD. Judge Garrett L. Wong has officially been assigned to the non jury trial.

CDC’s future up in the air

Fred Sturner, director of facilities planning and construction, explained that the CDC  is currently corroding due to the marine environment that San Francisco resides in.

“There is a large amount of salt in the air that the committee must put into their design standards that have not been considered in the past,” Sturner said,  “The corrosion is not dangerous yet, and deterioration has not begin to allow moisture infiltration into the interior, but it will.”

Kathleen White, chair of the child development department, explained that much of the problem is on the outside of the building, but does not affect the safety of the children.

“The deterioration affects aesthetics, and confidence mainly. It may affect how people feel about working there, how parents feel dropping their children off there. You want to be in a beautiful environment,” White said.

Problems with Relocation

White met with contractors for around three years in efforts to have them fix the physical issues of the building, only to be denied any assistance to change the problems of corrosion as they increasingly became worse.

“Nothing is set in stone right now,” White said, in regards to where the children will be relocated to. “We are at step one. Everyone needs to be on the same page. I am disappointed – it is frustrating and embarrassing, especially when you thought it was going to be fixed.”

City College’s Capital Projects Planning Committee (CPPC) has gone ahead with litigation and plans for construction to begin in October of this year, and completion by June 2, 2016.

“We have an obligation to our students and people that utilize these facilities to maintain good facilities. This one is deteriorating and is rapidly reaching the point where it won’t be habitable,” Sturner said.

Although the approximate cost is still under discussion, Sturner believes it will cost around $4.5 million.

“It is a significant issue, and if we don’t do something now, it will suddenly be too late and we won’t have a place for the kids,” Sturner said.