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Viramontes Five Defies Experts and Votes to Seal Up Rehabilitated City Hall

After a lengthy presentation on the economic and health advantages of operable windows by Gail Brager, a highly regarded professor from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, the five-member City Council cabal controlled by Maria Viramontes surprisingly and inexplicably voted to seal the building.


This was despite expert testimony that operable windows would not only save energy, but more importantly, would result in higher productivity and fewer lost time illnesses with a value of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, making operable windows a very favorable monetary investment. Dr. Brager’s testimony was based on dozens of studies around the world over many years. A representative from the Berkeley Mayor’s Office testified that the rehabilitated Berkeley City Hall has operable windows and has been very successful. Oakland and San Francisco City Halls also have operable windows.


The new City Hall in Orinda, in which City Manager Bill Lindsay had a hand planning, has operable windows. In fact, when queried by Vice-Mayor Bates, Lindsay said he would prefer the operable window option.


Millie Cleveland, representing the City’s largest public employees union, testified that her constituents preferred operable windows. The project architect, Michael Walden from Nadel Architects, testified that virtually all new cutting edge office buildings now have operable windows.


No one from either City staff or the design-build team disputed the testimony of Dr. Brager.


Councilmember Lopez said that if employees want fresh air, they should go outside and take a walk. Bates said he was unwilling to spend any extra money on operable windows and said the research presented by Dr. Brager was “hogwash.”


Then the City Council building, energy and workplace health experts, Bates, Marquez, Viramontes, Lopez and Sandhu, proceeded to vote down the operable window option recommended by the real experts and instructed that the building be permanently sealed. This totally irrational vote had to be based on a demonstration of pure political power with no redeeming justification. They did it because they could.


Richmond residents, you elected these people, so I guess this is what you want. Or not. If you have a message for the Viramontes Five, press "reply to all" and post your message.