Safety and Maintenance

To keep Sutro Tower structurally sound, independent outside engineers inspect the tower every year and identify any potential maintenance needs resulting from the tower’s exposure to wind, sun and moisture.

Our Structural Engineer evaluates the inspection and lists both the routine and more critical issues to deal with.  Tower maintenance experts perform the actual work; the repairs then are confirmed by an independent quality assurance team.

We work on one of the Tower’s three legs and facings each year for routine maintenance, thus covering the entire tower over three years before starting over. We also do any specific work noted in the annual engineering inspection. Most work involves replacing bolts or scraping away rust and re-painting the scraped areas.

Once a decade, the work includes additional maintenance on deeper, interior elements of the tower, removing the skin of the beams on certain levels and replacing elements as needed.

A report of all Sutro Tower maintenance work is submitted each year to the Department of Building Inspection and posted on our website. Click here to see the safety reports.

The City has permitting authority over the tower and the buildings on the 5.6-acre site through a conditional use permit issued in 1966. In addition, all radio and television broadcasting is regulated by the FCC, and certain other service providers are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.



2017 Maintenance

Sutro Tower’s recent maintenance included the annual work on one of the tower’s legs – in 2017 it was the West leg — as well as any maintenance identified as needed by the Structural Engineers who inspect the tower. This work is scheduled from late spring through summer, and includes removing old paint and rust and coating steel with a high-quality epoxy paint, as well as replacing roughly 200-300 bolts that are nearing the end of their useful life. Major work on the horizontal levels of the tower, which occurred in 2014 and 2015, is not needed this year.

We are continuing to meet our goal of minimizing the noise impact on neighbors. Tower workers use quieter tools as much as possible and use their louder heavy-duty air tools only when absolutely necessary in order to meet maintenance requirements. We have agreed with the neighborhood associations not to work on holiday weekends.