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Palo Alto mulls options for new police HQ

Original post made on Jun 4, 2010

After seeing their bid for a new, state-of-the-art public safety building crash and burn with the economic downturn, Palo Alto officials are now exploring less ambitious options for expanding the city's cramped and seismically shaky police headquarters.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 4, 2010, 12:32 PM

Comments (32)

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Posted by eliminate
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm

say no to police


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Great idea to give the Forest library to the Police. It is right across the street and the city already owns the land and building. Why we need 5 libraries in this city is beyond me.
Again, GREAT IDEA!


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm

"even purchased option agreements for two Park Boulevard sites that could house the new police operations"
How much money went down the tube for those option payments? Are we still making them.

"The council is also in the midst of appointing a new Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Task Force that would consider ways to close the city's infrastructure backlog"
A very "palo alto" approach--when you cannot make tough decisions, appoint some kind of task force/ad hoc committee/commission to "study" the matter. Don't we have one "deciding" what should be done with the dump/Byxbee park?
Don't they have a library commission and didn't they make recommendations about the downtown library which were shot down after some vocal people objected?
So the plan in PA is to avoid making hard decisions, appoint a task force to study the matter--thereby putting off a decision for a year or so, then if you do not like the task force's findings or the usual suspects object throw out what the committee decided. Then repeat as necessary to avoid conflict.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

"Police contacts and suspects will be run through databases multiple times and printouts will be duplicated," the department's review of the report states.

Why? Why does it matter how many times a database is accessed? Why are printouts necessary?

The city needs IT expertise. Multinational corporations seems able to run efficient businesses with offices all over the world.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2010 at 8:16 am

Whatever building is used for public safety HQ should be extremely earthquake-robust.


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Posted by opus
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm

sounds like we need further studies and another blue ribbon committe to make this decision. didn't we already go down this road before? after a year long blue ribbon committee qnd city PR departments determined the library site and mezzanine conversion were inappropiate, they chose the park blvd site. after spending over $1,000,000+ to retain the rights to purchase the park blvd. site and another $500,000+ for designer, architect and engineering plans including city staff time to plan check the design submitted, city manager keene and council member klein determined that funding was not available to continue with the project. did I miss something and the city find a windfall of new money to once again start the process. where did the money to fund the engineering firm of hohbach-lewin inc. to evaluate police building locations come from? why isn't local print media asking these questions?


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

Using the DT library for the police - GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!!!


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Posted by Hot Button
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

This is a hot button issue. Marvin, pat weighing in?


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Posted by Wm Michael Meloy
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Palo Alto had two very good options to a massive overhaul of the current PD building. When new, it was outdate and lack the needs to do an efferent job.

Some communities have taken the opportunity of vacant commercial buildings that are strategically located. These facilities are remodeled into "Precincts. Closed circuit TV provides that ability to brief all on-coming officers at one time. These Precincts are normally open to the public 8am to 10pm for walk-ins.

Just think about the wasted gas to have a Palo Alto Police Officer to go on shift and drive all the way to the south-end. If they need to drop off evidence, meet a citizen at the station, or whatever, they must drive all the way back.

Palo Alto had the opportunity to acquire two old Lucky buildings. One on Embarcadero and the other on Alma. Both could have been easily converted into "Precincts". To see how this model works, I would direct anyone to see what Hillsboro, OR has done. Has the town developed, Precincts were added at strategic locations, that also provide accessibility to citizens.


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Posted by Bubba
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Making a library into a police station is a great idea. We do it in Arkansas every chance we get.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:20 am

I don't know if "Bubba" is kidding or not, but I'm reasonably certain that morphing a library into a cop shop would guarantee Palo Alto the Top Chump in Silicon Valley position for a very long time.


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Posted by Midtown Maven
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:52 am

Let me get this straight " the city's cramped and seismically shaky police headquarters" need to be replaced for safety and demand reasons. But not the hospital? Hmmmm.


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Posted by Rod
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:11 am

Am I missing something? Aren't we still going broke?


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Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:12 am

Police have to drive to pick up papers? Come on! I sit on my laptop at home and print stuff to my work printer all the time. Put a printer in each cruiser. Multiple databases? I work for poor, underfunded Ravenswood School District, and we manage to tie together multiple sites on one network with one database. PAUSD does the same. That's no longer 'rocket science.'

Seismically unsafe -- of course. The 10 stories of City Hall will all land in the Police Department when the big earthquake hits.


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Posted by Safety First
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 12:01 pm

The current Emergency Operations Department (911 call center) is SEISMICALLY UNSAFE. That is completely unacceptable. We have known this for more than a decade.

Using (or sharing)the downtown library lot is a good idea--worth exploring. Downtown residents, it is time to make some compromises for the greater good. I know many of downtown residents agree. They find the DT library branch to be more of a reading room than a library. My friends, get busy. We ALL will need an operational Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in a major earthquake. We ALL need an affordable solution.

Downtown residents, tell City Council what many of you say privately--that you think the DT branch is a good location for an improved, SAFE EOC. Your inaction allows a vocal DT minority to carry the day.

Write a letter today to city.council@cityofpaloalto.org . Make sure you put your address on your letter so they will know it is from a downtown resident.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

"The current Emergency Operations Department (911 call center) is SEISMICALLY UNSAFE. That is completely unacceptable. We have known this for more than a decade."

Indeed we have. And for more than a decade, instead of moving the EOC to a more suitable location, the city has been playing games with downtown residents, alternately threatening the library and then ostentatiously assuring residents it was off the list. Each time it somehow always winds back at the top. City government cred is subzero downtown.

For over a decade the city has been fiddling while the EOC's integrity remains at risk. Even if the library were designated for sacrifice immediately, a new cop shop (and presumably safe EOC) is many years away.

It is time to do something real, if this town be capable of such. Our city government needs to move the EOC to a safe "temporary" location right now. Then it can safely pussyfoot through who knows how many more rounds of Blue Ribbon Task Forces.


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Posted by JO
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I believe that the current Police Building was seismically upgraded after the Loma Prieta Earthquake. It may not be up to current standards for new buildings being built today, but I'd feel safer in the current Police Building during an earthquake than in most buildings in Palo Alto. I think the whole hype about "not up to current seismic standards" was a bunch of spin to get a bond measure passed. The vast majority of buildings in Palo Alto are not up to 2010 seismic standards; that's true of most newer buildings. That does not mean they are unsafe during an earthquake.


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Posted by Don
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm

As many have pointed out, the Downtown Library is visited by a small percentage of residents and a large percentage of the homeless. A handful of vocal activists have selfishly kept it alive for their own use. The City cannot afford to maintain a facility that is not heavily used when there is a pressing need to upgrade the current police facility.

It's imperative that the out-moded, seismically unsafe police quarters be upgraded; it must be operational when, not if, the big earthquake hits. The minor seismic improvements of >20 years ago are not enough to keep it and City Hall safe in an earthquake of magnitude 8 or better. Too many offer opinions without engineering background to evaluate what is needed.


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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Doesn't City Hall have a vacant 3rd floor? Why not use that?


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Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I'm for anything that will allow the police center to become earthquake safe and accommodate them with their needs PROVIDED it doesn't encompass purchasing land and building a palace. There are some decent options on the table: use the mezzanine and the downtown library.

Note: This would be my library within walking distance, but I could sacrifice that.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

the Downtown library is another one of PA's sacred cows (i.e. like the Children's Theatre) that will be protected at all costs--you can count on that--both have vocal supporters.
Look what happened to the previous library director when she suggested closing the DT branch. Look what happened to the recommendations made by the Library Commission regarding the DT library--the recommendations were tabled because of vocal minority opposition and Ms Thom resigned.
As Paul pointed out the council will pussyfoot around with Task Forces/Commissions/Panels but will not address the issue.


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Posted by Etaoin Shrdlu
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Why not use the existing Stanford Hospital site? It may be available after they get fed up with Palo Alto's extortion policy and build the new hospital in Redwood City.


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Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Wait--that's an idea--Palo Alto should demand that Stanford, in return for getting permission to build a seismically safe hospital, has to build Palo Alto a band new police headquarters (and Stanford has to pay for the land for it also). In addition, Stanford should also build 20 more branch libraries in the city so that every neighborhood can have a library, thereby bringing us closer to the concept of "walkable neighborhoods".


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Posted by dott31
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Svatoid is the voice of reality here. What is in the air of the Palo Alto City Council that paralyzes the perception of reality of its members once they're elected, no matter how aware they appeared during their campaigns? The Downtown library is a logical place to convert to an extension of the police facility. And another available site, if the police need to expand into south PA, must be part of Alma Plaza. Has anyone looked at it lately?


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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm

What is the current status of the Agilent building on Page Mill by the underpass? It's fairly new and in good condition, and it should have enough room for both the Police Department and a new Main Library.


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Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm

The existing Downtown Library is an ideal site for a new police headquarters.
_____

In times of economic turmoil and uncertainty, fiscal prudence is absolutely essential.

The recent downturn here mandates the City's use of its resources wisely.

The City owns the downtown library site; there's absolutely no logical reason to keep a library on such site: soon, the main library will be renovated to a very high standard.

Keep the costs here under control; keep costs to a minimum.
_____

If not the downtown library site, then the City must use another site where the City currently holds full fee title.

The time for option payments, further studies, ad hoc commissions, and the like is long gone.

Above all, no new debt; no new Certificates of Participation or other indebtedness of any sort.

Manage wisely.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm

"Above all, no new debt"

There's the key to saving the library. Whereas bricks, mortar and steel cost money, and whereas so do the people who would put them together into a nice shiny new building, and whereas the city has no money on hand, therefore this notion is shelved forever.

Actually, the airport would be a great location. There's lots of room to expand, and it's right near the Municipal Services Center. Expect lots of pushback from NIMBY pilots, but only a small minority of them can vote in PA.


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Posted by Think About It
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Do you want your kids to walk to the Library if its at the Palo Alto airport? Think about it.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2010 at 6:38 am

There was a good piece of land, in downtown for the Police building on the 800 block of Alma where the power substation use to be. Unfortunately the city council gave that land away so the housing advocates could build 50 BMR units. The city could have saved around alot of money - too bad the city council let "special interests" give away this valuable city asset.


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Posted by Daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 8, 2010 at 7:35 am

The only logical solution is to get rid of the airport, and use some of the available land for the new police headquarters.


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Posted by Safety First
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

The airport sounds like another good possible option. Would it be possible to reuse existing buildings there? Or would they have to rebuild to meet seismic standards? What would that cost? Have they already looked at this possibility?


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2010 at 10:31 am

"Do you want your kids to walk to the Library if its at the Palo Alto airport? Think about it."

Uh, no. I was unclear about an implied pronoun's antecedent. Sorry. My second paragraph should read:

Actually, the airport would be a great location for the police station. There's lots of room to expand, and it's right near the Municipal Services Center. Expect lots of pushback from NIMBY pilots, but only a small minority of them can vote in PA.


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