City Clerk Staffers Work Among Cockroaches

Options are being reviewed to move city clerk staffers from their basement-level offices and away from the cockroaches, leaky plumbing and stagnant air they currently deal with on a day-to-day basis.

"We're working with the mayor's office and with the Department of General Services and we're looking at the planning for that right now. ... It won't be anything fancy. We're just trying to get people into a more reasonable working environment," City Clerk Susana Mendoza said Tuesday.

While the public face of the offices on the first floor City Hall are still pleasant from a renovation in the mid-1990s, the basement is a far different story. Water drips from overhead pipes into large blue bins, dampening the air of the windowless workspace.

And then there are the cockroaches.

"They're not little roaches. I mean, these are really big, huge, oversized, almost tropical roaches, and it's not a very nice sight," said Mendoza.

Fumigation is done regularly, but the chemical hangs in the air, creating a potentially unhealthy environment for staffers and constituents conducting business, she said.

Another concern is protecting the city's precious trove of historical documents, some dating to the 1800s.

"The documents are affected by heat and humidity, and the water goes in and out of the documents and they deteriorate," said Elisabeth Wittman, the clerk's archivist.

If staffers do move to another vacant space in the building, it likely won't happen until near the end of the year. The basement offices would then be used as cold storage.

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