CITY HALL — After an extensive search for a public safety storage facility to house reserve emergency equipment for the fire and police departments, officials have finally narrowed the list down to about a half dozen locations.
Those candidates, which include three in and around the Santa Monica Airport, will be presented to the community during a workshop on Nov. 18 at the Ken Edwards Center where the public will be invited to provide input on whether the proposed sites meet certain criteria, including providing major arterial access and complementing existing land uses.
The facility will be used to store reserve emergency and training vehicles and specialized equipment, which are currently stored outside in various locations, exposing them to the elements and shortening their useful life as a result. The lack of a central storage facility has also drawn concerns about the impact to response time since all equipment on vehicles are removed and stored indoors to prevent theft, causing some delay when they are returned during emergency calls.
Public safety officials have also noted issues with routinely servicing reserve emergency vehicles because they are stored in different locations.
The council on Tuesday reviewed the list of candidates, which include the parking lot at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, the Fisher Lumber site on Colorado Avenue, a piece of property located next to Fire Station 5 near the northwestern edge of the airport, an undeveloped space next to the northeast tip of the runway where Centinela Avenue meets the airport, and another undeveloped parcel next to South Bundy Drive.
City Hall evaluated 30 different potential sites and narrowed the field to seven for review by consultant, Gensler Architects. The original group included seven city-owned sites, 18 non-city-owned sites, and five non-city-owned sites in Los Angeles, the latter portion of which were eliminated because of additional expense and delay, Alex Parry, the project architect, said.
The consultant weighed the seven remaining properties against criteria that included their impact on response time and their need for utility infrastructure. A pair of properties were removed as a result, including the Sears lot and Deauville site, which is the dirt area located next to the 1550 lot off Pacific Coast Highway. The Sears lot will become the terminus for the Exposition Light Rail.
“This site has vulnerability to tsunamis and potential inaccessibility should the McClure Tunnel be blocked due to earthquakes,” Parry said about the Deauville site.
The council directed its staff to remove the Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue lot, which is used as a skating rink during the holidays and for parking in the offseason, and to nix the Fisher Lumber Yard, which is slated to be transformed into park space.
The staff was also asked to consider the City Yards as a possible location and explore dividing the storage facility into smaller units. The council also directed that all the original locations be included in the discussion during the community workshop.
“I know at the community meeting people will ask what else was on the list and why can’t we see those and why were they not considered,” Councilman Richard Bloom said.
Fire Chief Jim Hone said the storage facilities will house emergency reserve apparatuses and community disaster preparedness supplies. He said that there will be no heavy maintenance at the facilities, which now takes place at the new Big Blue Bus maintenance yard on Colorado Avenue.
“That is a beautiful location for us to utilize,” he said.
City staff is expected to conduct six to eight interviews with a sample of residents on Oct. 29. They will return to the council later this year with the outcome of both public outreach efforts and to receive direction on which site to pursue.