OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside City Council on Feb. 23 halted the construction of any additional fire stations with the exception of Fire Station No. 1 until the city has made more progress on finding a new home for the police department.
The council’s decision was made immediately after approving a more than $1 million agreement with STK Architecture, of Temecula, to design a new Fire Station No. 8, which is currently leasing a building in 1935 Avenida Del Oro, Suite F.
Though the council unanimously approved the agreement, Councilmember Peter Weiss added a second part to the motion declaring that the city would not enter into a construction contract for Fire Station No. 8 until plans and financing are in place for a new police station.
“Whatever we’re going to do with the police station, we need to advance that and I’d like to see (the police station) have an opportunity to compete for funding versus having another fire station,” Weiss said.
Mayor Esther Sanchez was the only council member to oppose the second part of the modified motion.
“I don’t feel comfortable splitting public safety this way,” Sanchez said.
The decision to halt further construction of new fire stations does not apply to Fire Station No. 1’s construction, which is set to begin once the project’s final permits are obtained.
The current police station headquarters is located in a strip mall in the 3800 block of Mission Avenue. The department began occupying the location in 1999 on a 10-year, temporary basis, however by the time 2009 rolled around the city didn’t have funds for a new police station. The recession, at the time, further delayed the station’s construction, which is now 13 years overdue.
A big issue with the police department’s current location is the lack of space, despite nearly a dozen remodels of the station’s interior to maximize space as much as possible.
According to Terry Gorman Brown, an analyst in the City Manager’s Office, the department’s secured, gated lot is too small for all of its vehicles, resulting in some of them being parked in front of the facility within the common parking area of the strip mall. Some other vehicles are parked at the City Operations Center and fire stations as well.
Lack of police vehicle storage isn’t the only problem with the use of space for the department.
“The Department’s firearms range, evidence and property storage facility, arrest and control training space, and force options simulator are all located in separate areas of the city,” Brown said via email. “This leads to restricted hours in which training can take place, inefficiencies in use of staff time, unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles due to the need to travel to the offsite facilities, and ultimately, inefficient use of taxpayer resources compared to what a purpose-built and fully centralized facility would provide.”
Measure X is funding the current police headquarters expansion and relocation study.
As for Fire Station No. 8, the plan is to build a new location on city-owned property bound by Old Grove Road to the north, Trestle Street to the west, Rocky Point Drive to the south and the Front Wave Credit Union to the east along College Boulevard.
The building will be either one or two stories high with approximately 15,000-18,000 square feet of space and will house a four-person ladder truck, a three-person engine and a battalion chief vehicle with accommodations for 10 fire personnel.
The city’s Water Utilities Department will share the property with its construction of a 2.5 million-gallon, prestressed, concrete, recycled water storage reservoir on the southerly portion of the site.