By Aaron Blevins, 6/28/2012
Report Will Consider the Possibility of Expanding Facilities
In its recent budget adoption, the West Hollywood City Council approved $250,000 for a feasibility study to analyze the long-term possibility of the city making new accommodations for its city employees and sheriff’s deputies.
Mayor Jeffrey Prang stressed that the work could be as many as 25 years away, but the council wanted to begin looking at options that would allow for growth. He said both city hall and the sheriff’s station are currently crowded as is.
“We now see the light at the end of the tunnel for these facilities,” Prang said.
The sheriff’s station was built before the city incorporated in 1984. Prang said the station was designed to house 120 staff members, though it is now occupied by as many as 200 people.
“The sheriff’s station is obsolete,” he said. “It is not adequate for the current needs of the city. …It’s going to have to be replaced at some time.”
Lt. Cheryl Newman-Tarwater, of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, also stressed that the idea to create a new facility is “very, very preliminary.” However, she said the sheriff’s station is overcrowded, forcing deputies to carry their equipment or store it in their cars.
“We’re kind of maximized out,” Newman-Tarwater said.
She said the station was torn down and rebuilt in 1980. It currently houses 139 sworn officers, 44 staff members and five narcotics officers. The station also has 75 reserve officers and several volunteers who use the facility, Newman-Tarwater said.
“With the growth, it’s obviously put a big strain on space here,” she added.
Newman-Tarwater said the building has its issues, such as flooding and antiquated electrical outlets that make the circuit breakers trip. She said deputies also need a juvenile facility. However, the lieutenant said the facility’s size does not hamper the station’s public safety efforts.
“Regardless of whether we’re in a tent or in a station, those levels will be maintained,” Newman-Tarwater said.
As for city hall, Prang said the current facility houses 200 employees and leaves no room for future growth. He said it is possible that the city may want to consolidate the station and city hall, just as it did with the West Hollywood Library, which features a parking garage, library and meeting room.
“It may make sense to consolidate,” Prang added.
He said any plan involving city hall and the sheriff’s station could have an impact on other planning, such as the council’s long-term desire to further enhance the business district on Santa Monica Boulevard. After a strategy is created, the council could begin to “squirrel away” money to lay a foundation for a future generation of city leaders, Prang said.
With the sheriff’s station on Los Angeles County land, a building project could require a collaborative agreement, which could make it even more convoluted, he said.
“They’re very complicated decisions, and a lot of these things may take many years to flush out,” Prang said, adding that he isn’t sure when the study will commence.