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The city increased this year's Measure X spending plan to provide enhanced security, additional fire equipment and improve emergency response times. Photo by Samantha Nelson
The city increased this year's Measure X spending plan to provide enhanced security, additional fire equipment and improve emergency response times. Photo by Samantha Nelson
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Oceanside increases Measure X spending on downtown security project

OCEANSIDE — The city of Oceanside will use additional Measure X funds this year for several public safety improvements, including a new pilot project aiming to provide a higher security presence downtown.

The Oceanside City Council approved several updates to this year’s Measure X spending plan during its Sept 28 meeting, including $1.33 million for a new contract with Main Street Oceanside to hire Gatekeepers Security Services for enhanced security downtown.

The security team will operate 24/7 with four security officers stationed at all times in marked vehicles and bicycles.

Police Chief Fred Armijo has expressed strong support for the new security team, which will provide services beyond just calling the police.

“The good thing about this particular firm is unlike many who simply observe and report, this firm will go above and beyond that,” Armijo said at the Sept. 28 council meeting. “They’ll detain folks for us, sign citizen’s arrests for us, testify in court – it’s a tier up from the very conservative observe and report model.”

While supportive of the new downtown security program, which will help to deter downtown transient activity, Mayor Esther Sanchez noted her concern about the activity moving into residential neighborhoods.

Assistant City Manager Michael Gossman said he plans to provide an update on how the security pilot project is going every month.

In addition to the downtown security pilot project, another $828,000 was approved using Measure X dollars to create a new paramedic squad in the downtown area that will handle lower acuity calls and reduce the currently high volume of calls for Fire Station 1.

A third new program will implement youth programming and gang prevention. Valued at $650,000, using Measure X funds for the first year, the program will provide positive development models for youth at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.

“Gang intervention and diversion is always a goal with Measure X that has not been funded yet,” Gossman said. “We are excited to begin this type of programming.”

There were other tweaks to this year’s Measure X spending plan as well, including $24,000 to the police department’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), over $256,000 for a community service officer model implementation, $8,000 for increased EMT wages and training, and $340,000 to replace the lifeguard announcement system, renovate some lifeguard towers and to purchase a scissor lift that will enable firefighters to get back on the streets faster during an emergency.

An additional $2 million has also been moved from Measure X’s fifth-year spending plan to the current fourth-year spending plan for design work on a new police headquarters.

Another change that won’t affect costs is the refocusing of the Sobering Services Center.

Initially, the Measure X Year 4 budget allotted $617,100 for the project, which was implemented last year through a contract with McAlister Institute to provide an alternative, faster option to help sober up intoxicated individuals in town rather than taking them to the Vista jail.

Due to the program’s underutilization – the center only took in about 17 people per month on average – the funds will be reallocated to the city’s hotel voucher program instead. At the same time, work continues on the city’s new homeless shelter.

About half of the individuals taken into the Sobering Services Center each month were homeless.

The total spending plan for Measure X’s fourth year is now at about $26.3 million, leaving $917,260 to be carried over into the following year.