Local Politics

New Santa Barbara police station a top priority from voters

Special committee begins planning

Santa Barbara Police are hoping a voter backed tax will help with a new headquarters building. (John Palminteri/KEYT.com)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The City of Santa Barbara has put together a special subcommittee to figure out how to get a new headquarters for the police department.

For years this has been a city priority, but costs have been too high without assistance in the form of grants or, in the past, the Redevelopment Funds when they were in use.

The current building was opened in 1959 and has been in use well beyond its meaningful years according to staff studies.

The dispatch center, for example, had to be moved from the basement because of risks to the employees and equipment in an earthquake.

"You go down to the bowels of that building and I am not the tallest person and I bang my head on pipes going through," said Councilmember Randy Rowse who is on the committee looking into the project.

Voters just approved a tax increase to bring in money for many public works projects include a new police command center. "When they voted in measure C,  one of the things voters made as a top priority was a new police station."
A  new station may be a uniquely designed  with more technology and work space efficiencies than the big box buildings of the past.

It's all part of the analysis.

"What kind of amenities do we need  it's a modern  police station ? What kind of offices   do we need?  A shooting range,  a 911 call center,  all those things are still on table and  to be discussed," said Rowse. "But it does need to have the strongest earthquake essential standards for a building so that's one of the reasons we can just say let's just use one of those buildings instead or a vacant building."

Depending on who you talk to the price tag for a new police station could be $60 to $80-million but the City of Santa Barbara is going to be talking to other cities in California that just built new police stations, and did it at half the cost.

The new Santa Maria police station for example which opened in 2015 had a price tag of about $30-million dollars.
"We will absolutely be looking at other communities especially those that have recently did this and learn as much as we can from that we did that before  and then we just have to think about our site and the best location clearly if it was feasible. It would be great to build a building that was offsite so that we could not have to  move PD while they are doing that.    I  don't know it that's possible," said Rowse.
The department had about 80 officers when the police command center was built in 1959.  Today there are more than 200 personnel on staff.


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