Doing what's needed
The City Council has done what it needed to do: Pick a location for the City Hall project and start the process of making the 1891 building earthquake-resistant. The move was needed to protect the city from liability should a major earthquake occur before the reconstruction is finished.
The decision to keep City Hall at its historic location overlooking the Plaza is the least costly of three options the city considered and maintains the seat of government in the heart of downtown.
The decision will not satisfy everyone, but that wasn’t a realistic expectation anyway. Critics who fault the City Council for its perceived tendency to live beyond the city’s needs should be pleased that councilors chose the least expensive option — while reserving the right to change their minds later. That’s prudent, too, because the city will be able to shift to another location if unforeseen problems crop up or another site looks more attractive.
The next step in the process is to wait for the architectural firm ORW to complete preliminary designs and cost estimates for seismically retrofitting the existing structure and updating systems or completely rebuilding on the site. That will take six months, and city staff will also review all city-owned properties for a potential alternative site if that might serve the city better than the East Main Street location.
Successive City Councils have kicked this project around for more than two decades. It’s time to finally complete it. Residents should let the process run its course.