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Air conditioning in downtown San Diego courthouse partly broken amid heat wave

More problems with the downtown San Diego Superior Court Central courthouse could make for an uncomfortable day for workers, jurors, lawyers and anyone doing business in the building, officials said Tuesday.

Failure of some parts of the 22-story building’s air conditioning system Monday night means it is not working at full power, according to an email from the court’s Presiding Judge Michael T. Smyth.

That means the public areas of the courthouse will be at a temperature of 78 degrees to 80 degrees, he wrote, while temperatures in the back hallways used by court workers could range from 74 to 78.

As for the courtrooms, Smyth said he expected temperatures to be “somewhere in those ranges — very uncomfortable.” In the email sent to other judges and court staff Monday morning, Smyth said he could not say how long it might take to repair.

The weakened air conditioning system comes at an inopportune time, when the region is in the grip of a suffocating heat wave expected to continue for most of the week.

The problem occurred Monday night when crews were re-energizing the system, Smyth wrote.

In addition, Smyth said the building has “significant water damage” from a blocked condensation drain on the fifth floor. That led to water damage on the third and fourth floors that affected the business office for the Family Law division and the jury lounge.

Work stations in the Family Law section were hard hit, and Smyth said a “large area” on the north end of the jury lounge “suffered significant water damage, and I expect significant carpet damage that will require pulling up the carpet and replacing it.”

The full extent of the water damage is still being assessed, he said, adding that the water was at least clean water.

The latest problems come just two weeks after the court had to construct a protective covered walkway around all sides of the building, located on the square block of B Street, Union Street, State Street and C Street. That was done because three windows in the $555 million building had inexplicably shattered since May. The building opened in December 2017.

Officials with the state Judicial Council, which built and own the building, are investigating the cause of the window problems.

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