In addition to concerns about seismic safety, the Hall of Justice, which houses the District Attorney’s office, has experienced recurring sewage floods and broken elevators. (Jessica Christian 2016 S.F. Examiner)

SF approves costly lease to start moving city departments out of Hall of Justice

San Francisco approved signing a costly city lease Tuesday to start moving departments like the District Attorney’s Office out of the Hall of Justice building.

The $150 million lease over 15 years approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors is just the first of three leases in which The City plans to enter to get city departments out of the 850 Bryant St. building.

SEE RELATED: SF’s Hall of Justice exit plan to cost $135M over first 10 years

The lease approved Tuesday and two others that are expected to follow would cost The City $135 million during the next 10 years, under a plan proposed by Mayor Ed Lee and City Administrator Naomi Kelly.

The building, built in 1958, is long known to be seismically unsound and plagued by such issues as rodents and sewage floods. Labor unions have pressured The City to act without delay.

But supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin both questioned the cost and said The City has failed by not buying property as a better deal for taxpayers, but still supported the proposal.

“It’s a ton of money. We’ve had repeated opportunities to buy office buildings for the long term,” Peskin said. “It’s millions of dollars that I wish we could spend in other ways and not on rent.

Supervisor Katy Tang, however, said that “the proximity of these departments to the courthouse, to the jail, to each other, all of it is incredibly important” and no purchase opportunities were found in the area.

She also noted that The City now plans to demolish the Hall of Justice building then rebuild on the site and relocate the departments back onto the site.

The board approved the lease for 125,122 square feet at 350 Rhode Island St., where the base rent is $51 per square foot. That will come to a cost of $90 million over the next decade and $149 million over the next 15 years. The District Attorney’s Office and the Police Department’s Investigations Unit would move in there.

The board also approved The City to finalize negotiations for leasing space at 777 Brannan St. for the Police Department’s evidence storage and 945 Bryant St. for San Francisco Adult Probation.

Supervisor Mark Farrell expressed his dissatisfaction with the proposal as well. “I hate where we are also. I think it is absurd, these leases that are in front of us,” Farrell said. “Obviously we want to own rather than lease. I just simply think there’s no option at this point in time.”
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