Energy & Environment

San Francisco’s Half-Million-Dollar Wheelchair Ramp

The city of San Francisco has completed work on a $515,000 wheelchair ramp that measures 10 feet.
 
It’s true.  It all began last year when Board of Supervisors member Michela Alioto-Pier, who uses a wheelchair, complained that the dais serving the board’s meeting room in City Hall was not wheelchair-accessible.  When she threatened to sue, the city went into overdrive to build a small ramp.
 
In typical bureaucratic fashion, a plan was procured.  San Francisco City Hall is old by California standards, dating back to 1915.  Because it’s a historic building, $50,000 was immediately spent to gain input from historical consultants.  Next, an architectural and engineering firm was hired to design the ramp.  Its bill was $170,000.  Materials for the job cost $25,000, not including $49,000 for a brass handrail.  Another $20,000 was spent on hazardous waste removal (what the heck they discovered that was so toxic was never disclosed).  Labor costs for the project totaled a whopping $201,000. 

At the end of the day, the fiscally insane San Francisco bureaucrats built a wheelchair ramp that cost $51,500 per linear foot.
 
There was also another odd, associated expense.  During the several months necessary for ramp construction, the city spent $51,000 to temporarily relocate the weekly supervisors meetings to a hearing room two floors up.

And, never missing an opportunity to blow even more taxpayer money, the supervisors decided, as long as the boardroom was under construction, to upgrade the audio-visual equipment for an additional cost of $132,000. 
 
“We’re really proud of how the project turned out,” City Administrator Amy Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle.  “We preserved the beautiful and unique historical features of the room while making the podium fully accessible, and that, we feel, sends a really important and powerful message that we’re fully complying with the law and that there’s really, truly access for all to that space.”

If you add up all the expenditures involved in this boondoggle, San Francisco dropped $698,000.  Is it any surprise that Baghdad by the Bay is currently operating with a budget deficit of at least $350 million?
 
And how is the super-duper ramp working out for Supervisor Alioto-Pier?  We may never know, as she was termed out of office before being able to give the access a try.

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