Berkeley balcony collapse: Safety officials launch probe

Safety officials in Berkeley are inspecting the apartment complex where six Irish students were killed after a balcony collapsed.

Berkeley balcony collapse: Safety officials launch probe

Inspectors visited Library Gardens at 2020 Kittredge St yesterday. The balcony for the affected unit, as well as the three other similar balconies in the building, were each red-tagged, prohibiting any access to those areas, city officials said.

A spokesperson for the city said: “Officials ordered the property owner to immediately remove the balcony and to perform a structural assessment of the remaining balconies within 48 hours. The building finished construction in January 2007.

“City of Berkeley staff from police, fire, and building and safety have been responding to the incident and taking all necessary steps to safely secure the area and investigate the cause.”

The first building in the Library Gardens complex was completed in November 2006, John DeClercq, the original developer, told local media.

The second building was finished in 2007.

The company that developed the complex, Library Gardens LLC, sold its interest in June 2007 to Blackrock, a property investment trust, he said. Greystar, a large apartment developer and manager, leases and manages the building. It does not own it.

Greystar, a Houston-based developer and property management company that owns or manages more than 400,000 apartments around the US, manages five apartment complexes in Berkeley.

Mr DeClercq expressed shock and dismay following the tragedy.

“I am totally speechless and am really feeling for the families,” he said. “I am feeling terrible.”

Mr DeClercq said that a “top-notch” contractor built Library Gardens and used “the best steel guy in California”,

“It was a reputable local general contractor. They hired the best steel and concrete subcontractors. It was a very strong team.”

However, an Oakland civil and structural engineer who reviewed a picture of the balcony in question for the San Francisco Chronicle said there appeared to be inadequate waterproofing.

Gene St Onge said in a preliminary assessment of the damage: “This appears to be a classic case of there being inadequate waterproofing at the point where the deck meets the house.

“If the waterproofing is substandard, rainwater can enter the building, causing dry rot, which can destroy the wood members within a short time, i.e. only a few years from construction.”

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Discover the

Install our free app today

Available on

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.