SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As billions of dollars in new state buildings go up in Downtown Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom is now asking California state agencies to reduce their “physical footprint” and expand “telework.”

In all, four new downtown state buildings are under construction. Three state buildings are under construction on O Street, and a massive campus for the Department of General Services is under construction on Richards Boulevard.

Now, in the middle of the building boom, the governor’s finance department sent out a budget letter this week to department heads, directing them to increase telework.

The letter reads in part: “Identify opportunities to reconfigure workspaces and reduce the state’s physical footprint by taking into account an ongoing increase in telework.”

The budget letter aims to cut costs for several years because of the COVID-19 recession and asks department heads to have a plan submitted to the finance department by February 1.

Sacramento city councilmember Jeff Harris says the governor’s call for an ongoing increase in telework could spell doom for downtown Sacramento.

“I would not want to see this as a permanent situation,” Harris said. “I think it’s very concerning right now how the state is trying to manage their budgetary woes. It’s looking to keep their workers out of our city center because we need that energy in the short term to recover from COVID.”

In June, the governor’s finance department also addressed telework as a pandemic necessity that is transforming the future of state government.

A budget summary read, “The state’s response has shown that teleworking on a large scale is possible.”

Downtown Sacramento’s billion-dollar state building boom. The offices are going up. When they’re done, who will go in them?

Earlier this year the California Department of Human Resources asked that three-quarters of all state workers telecommute at least part-time, because of COVID-19.

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