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. VIEW 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.

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2020 Maintenance

Sutro Tower’s 2020 maintenance includes the annual work on one of the tower’s legs and one of the facings – this year, the south leg and south facing. Sutro Tower maintenance work will also include removing old paint and rust, coating steel with a high-quality epoxy paint, and replacing any bolts that are nearing the end of their useful life.

The 2020 work will strengthen certain structural elements of the tower following the installation of nine new or replacement TV antennas as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, tower workers are completing the tower’s lighting replacement project with the installation of LED lights and new cables. With work occurring at the top of the tower, some TV stations switch their transmission to auxiliary antennas elsewhere on the tower, which may affect TV reception in certain areas.