Something strange is happening at the Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood.
Federal employees working in the building were instructed in early August to work as much as possible from the comfort — and safety — of their own homes, according to SFGATE.
“In light of the conditions at the [Federal Building] we recommend employees … maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future,” Cheryl Campbell, an assistant secretary with the Department of Health and Human Services, told staffers in a memo.
The 18-story tower houses not only the former Speaker’s offices, but the offices of several other federal agencies.
Located at the corner of Seventh and Mission streets near the fabled Tenderloin District, the building sits smack dab in the middle of one of San Francisco’s most notorious open-air drug markets.
According to SFGATE, after two months, “Health and Human Services won’t say whether the recommendation is still in effect.”
If it is, the outlet states, “it’s difficult to glean why.”
Regardless, it appears the building is being heavily guarded, though, again, it is unclear why, given that is largely empty at the moment.
“On five trips to the building over the past two weeks, SFGATE has observed officers with the Federal Protective Service — effectively the police arm of the Department of Homeland Security — stationed outside,” the outlet reports. “On one trip, SFGATE saw five officers milling around on the sidewalk just outside the building, with six federal police cruisers parked in the vicinity. A security guard stationed outside of the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse, which is across the street, told SFGATE that Federal Protective Service officers seem to be at the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building for about 12 hours each weekday.”
In an email, the agency spokesperson told SGGATE that the beefed-up security is just part of the Federal Protective Service’s “mission.”
“The Federal Protective Service is entrusted with the safety and security of federal employees and visitors at more than 9,000 facilities nationwide daily,” the email explained.
“That is our mission and top priority,” it continued. “FPS’ presence at the Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building and at federal facilities nationwide is an example of our important mission. We will continue to have a visible presence there and at other facilities nationwide to ensure the continued protection and safety for our federal workforce and visitors receiving services in federal facilities.”
The agency did not specify when the patrols started or what prompted them.
Health and Human Services has been equally unhelpful, ignoring “several requests for comment from SFGATE about whether its employees have been called back to in-office work, or if the area is still considered dangerous,” according to SFGATE.
The outlet reveals that “not a single person was seen entering or exiting the front entrance” of the building during its last five trips to the locations.
“During one trip, SFGATE walked into the building lobby and was quickly met by a security guard stationed at a desk a few feet from the entrance,” it reports. “No other employees were present.”
On one trip, a man was spotted on a concrete bench outside the building, eating his lunch as federal officers stood guard nearby.
“It seemed during SFGATE’s visits that the only people nearby were part of the heavy Homeland Security presence,” the outlet states. “Nothing else was out of the ordinary, and none of the conditions alluded to by Health and Human Services were observed.”
In fact, according to SFGATE, “The area was often deserted.”