The Coast News Group

Supervisors authorize RCS tower construction in Carlsbad, lease on Camp Pendleton

CARLSBAD — A 60-foot-high false eucalyptus tree which will function as an antenna for the county’s Regional Communications System will be erected in Carlsbad.

Two San Diego County Board of Supervisors actions June 27 addressed the upgrade of the RCS.  One 5-0 vote authorized a contract option to construct a new radio facility in Carlsbad and the other 5-0 vote approved a lease agreement with the Department of the Navy for a radio facility on San Onofre Peak at Camp Pendleton.

“Clear communication is crucial during emergencies,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “The 60-foot antenna, generator and utility connections in Carlsbad along with the public safety radio site at Camp Pendleton will help our first responders receive immediate reliable information in a disaster situation.”

The RCS, which allows emergency and public safety agencies to communicate with each other, was established in 1995. The county of San Diego and the participating agencies realized that the RCS would eventually approach the end of its useful life and require replacement. In June 2015 the county supervisors authorized the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to issue a request for proposals to replace the existing RCS, to award a contract upon successful negotiations and determination of a fair and reasonable price, and to amend the contract as required to reflect changes to services and funding allocation subject to the approval of the sheriff. Motorola Solutions, Inc. was awarded the contract in June 2016.

Motorola and the Sheriff’s Department worked together to identify potential sites that will provide the required geographic coverage. A radio facility currently operates at the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, which is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018. The decommissioning is expected to result in the removal of the 400-foot-high exhaust stack, which currently provides public safety radio coverage to surrounding communities, and multiple coastal sites were identified to ensure continued coverage for those areas.

In November 2016 the Board of Supervisors exercised a contract option for facility improvements at the Harmony Hill site in southeast Escondido and authorized negotiations, to be ratified by subsequent Board of Supervisors action, for the purchase and lease of sites for RCS support in seven areas including one site in the city of Carlsbad, one in the city of Encinitas, one in the city of Solana Beach and one on camp Pendleton.

In April 2017, the county supervisors approved a 20-year lease with the city of Carlsbad to use land on the city’s Ellery Water Reservoir property on Janis Way. The county has submitted a permit application to the city of Carlsbad to construct the antenna in the form of a 60-foot-tall false tree along with an equipment shelter, a generator and utility connections. The estimated construction and site improvement cost is $1,360,341. All of the work will take place within the property, which is inside a fence which prevents public access, and all activities which will disturb the ground will be within areas already disturbed and thus will not impact any environmentally sensitive land.

The county and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest negotiated the terms and conditions of a five-year lease agreement with three five-year extension options for the Camp Pendleton site. The RCS facility will utilize a 40-by-40-foot area off of Skyline Road adjacent to the Coast Guard Rescue 21 site, which is within the Coast Guard radio communications compound. The county will initially pay an annual rent of $12,000, and the rent will increase by 5 percent annually. The county will also be responsible for all utilities and maintenance expenses.