The Santa Barbara Police Department's dispatch center will be moved to the Granada Garage office building later this year because its current home in the city’s main police station on Figueroa Street is not considered earthquake-safe.
City Council members unanimously approved another $2 million in funding for the project Tuesday afternoon, to pay for modifying the office building and relocating the emergency communication equipment.
The 9-1-1 Call Center, or Combined Communications Center, has dispatchers fielding calls for police, fire and ambulances in the basement of the police building.
Before Santa Barbara's Redevelopment Agency was dissolved, the city had hoped to build an entire new police station for about $50 million.
There’s no funding source for the project now, but the station does eventually need to be replaced, said Joshua Haggmark, the principal civil engineer for the city, who is now acting water resources manager.
Since the call center would have to move eventually during construction, it’s being moved now to deal with seismic concerns and to get it into a safe working space, he said.
Dispatchers will share the second-floor space with the environmental services department once construction is finished around August.
It will be more spacious than the basement and have two extra work stations, which are needed for busy times such as the Fourth of July and Fiesta, Haggmark said.
The Granada Garage office building is one of the newer city buildings, and was picked for its location near the police station, access to the fiber-optic communication network, backup generator and nearby parking, but it can’t be a permanent home for the dispatch center.
It meets “life safety” standards, so it will survive an earthquake and protect people inside, but doesn’t meet the higher standards for emergency communications facilities, Haggmark said.
Unspent RDA money will be used to fund the project, now that the city has convinced the state Department of Finance to let Santa Barbara keep it. The total move will cost about $2.3 million.
“I think it is going to make the people of this city safer,” Councilman Bendy White said.