The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved a design contract for relocating the 9-1-1 call center from the basement of the police station to the second floor of the Granada Garage office building.
City officials are concerned about the police station’s performance during an earthquake, so they have been working on a plan to move the communications center as a temporary measure until there is a long-term plan to address the station’s structural issues. A new — or completely renovated — police station was a pending Redevelopment Agency project before RDAs were dissolved.
The call center, or Combined Communications Center, has dispatchers for police, fire and ambulance calls and is staffed 24/7.
The Granada Garage parking structure office building is one of the city’s newer buildings and has good parking, a backup generator, access to the fiber optic communication network and is only a block away from the police station.
The council approved a $277,942 design contract Tuesday. Construction plans will come back to the council by the end of the year, according to Joshua Haggmark, principal civil engineer for the city.
The project is a high priority for the city and used to be a Redevelopment Agency project. Haggmark said that hopefully most if not all of the total $2.5 million cost can be funded by former RDA monies.
“I think we feel 80 to 90 percent confident, at least I do, that we’ll be able to use that bond money for capital,” City Administrator Jim Armstrong said.
Call center operations would take up about half of the second-floor office space and share with the current occupant, the city’s Environmental Services Division.
Councilman Dale Francisco asked why the 9-1-1 center can’t be placed in Fire Station No. 1, but Haggmark said the station is already home to the Emergency Operations Center and training facility, so the call center would eat up that entire space.
Fire Chief Pat McElroy jumped in and agreed.
“I think adding in the Combined Communications Center in that space gives us a whole new set of problems,” he said. “In the event of a major disaster, that space becomes unusable.”
The space is already doubly utilized as the city’s EOC and training area for firefighters and other departments, he noted.
The council also increased the work order for the intersection improvements project at Anacapa and Carrillo streets by $75,000 to cover repairs done after an accidental cut to the city’s underground fiber optic cable network.
Two weeks ago, the council removed this item from its agenda when it was suggested to increase the work order by $50,000. The total project cost is now estimated at $781,446.
New signal lights are being hung on mast arms out over the streets, not just mounted on less-visible corner poles, to help visibility in what has become one of the most accident-prone intersections in the city. Crews are also installing sidewalk access ramps and making drainage improvements. Traffic has been backed up by lane closures in the area, which most likely will continue until construction finishes later this month.
The extra expense is the result of a Jan. 18 incident in which the city’s fiber-optic cable was accidentally severed as work crews were digging for a new signal pole. Because the cable wasn’t laid according to the original plans at the site, it was mismarked by city staff, Public Works Department principal engineer Linda Sumansky wrote in a staff report.
The $75,000 comes from the Streets Capital Fund and reserves, which will cover the repairs and $10,000 to cover any cost increases that may result from future unforeseen work, according to the city staff report.