Public records show systemic problems at Multi-Use Building

By Sarah Lapidus

Special to The Guardsman


More than 700 facilities work orders have been issued over the last four years against Ocean Campus’ $40 million Multi-Use Building (MUB), with more than 200 of them still open, according to public records obtained by The Guardsman.

This dramatically dwarfs the number of work orders filed against other recently constructed buildings on campus. A public records request found no work orders filed against the Wellness Center in the same time period.

Construction of the MUB was part of a $246 million bond measure passed in 2005 to fund facility renovations, remodeling, and new construction at City College.

With hundreds of complaints since its completion in 2012, the 110,000 square-foot MUB feels more like an old, decrepit building than a new, sleek, state-of-the-art facility that was promised to voters.

The promises were grand: The building was constructed to meet LEED Gold environmentally sustainable standards with a living roof, an atrium, and a sophisticated ground loop geothermal heating system leveraging solar energy and natural light to heat and cool the building.

According to energy management company Syserco’s website, the goal of the Multi-Use Building was to achieve optimal student comfort via “a complex algorithm that includes CO2 levels, space temperature, outdoor air temperature, dew point, wind direction, and indoor humidity.”

Although the building was originally planned as a joint collaboration between City College and San Francisco State University to house classrooms, laboratories, student development facilities, study space, and offices, SFSU decided to drop out of the project.  

“Originally, the MUB was designed to provide high-end, modern classrooms with the ability to connect to computers,” Trustee John Rizzo said in an email to The Guardsman.

But just four years after its construction, the multi-use building is less than optimal.

When building maintenance issues arise, staff or faculty submit work orders through an online system. Of the 720 work orders dating back to 2014, 206 of them are still marked as “in progress.”

There are many repeated instances of leaky pipes, broken locks, faulty heating and air conditioning, and broken shades.

“Students and faculty had to bundle up with sweaters and coats during class,” stated one complaint from August 2014.

“The ESL lab … is very cold. Students are complaining that they cannot concentrate on their work because they are so cold,” stated another complaint from September 2015.

Temperature complaints still continue to this day. Over the last four years there have been more than 100 heating, ventilation, and air conditioning complaints.

“The louvers in MUB 251 are stuck partially open again and it is freezing cold. Plus the wind is blowing so loud it’s difficult to hear the instructor. It has been repaired before but the repair is never permanent,” stated a recent complaint in February of this year.  

Some issues seem to never end.

“In the women’s bathroom on the first floor … the middle sink faucet still does not work. The last thing we heard was that a battery had been ordered (sensor not functioning) … but that was back in 2017,” stated a recent complaint in January 2018.

“The shades in MUB 140 were repaired in time for the swearing-in of the new (board of trustees). I don’t understand why the shades in the ESL lab can’t also be repaired,” stated a complaint from January 2015.

Rizzo said he was unaware of large number of the complaints. “It sounds like we need to get someone in there and check out if there’s a problem, and what the fix might be. We have a new vice chancellor of facilities, who has a list of things to do,” he said.

Rueben Smith, interim vice chancellor of facilities, declined to comment for this story.

“We are staffing up buildings and grounds staff, and bringing consultants aboard. It’s going to take some timesome of this stuff has been neglected for some time,” City College spokesperson Jeff Hamilton said. “It’s no secret that City College has a backlog of maintenance and deferred maintenance issues. The vice chancellor is working … through the backlog of issues.”

“We are committed to providing the best possible study space for students. It’s not something that happens overnight,” Hamilton said.

The Multi-Use Building on Ocean Campus on May 4, 2018. Photo by Janeth R. Sanchez/The Guardsman.
The Multi-Use Building on Ocean Campus on May 4, 2018. Photo by Janeth R. Sanchez/The Guardsman.
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