News

City Council approves construction of new police headquarters

Palo Alto's most critical infrastructure project now set to be completed in 2023

A new public safety building is set to go up at 250 Sherman Ave. in 2023, after the City Council voted on Feb. 1 to approve construction and design contracts for the project. Courtesy city of Palo Alto.

After decades of debates, deferrals and disappointments, the Palo Alto City Council advanced on Monday the largest and most complex infrastructure project in the city's recent history: a new public safety building in the California Avenue business district.

Once built, the building at 250 Sherman Ave. will serve as the new headquarters of the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Services and house the city's dispatch operation. The $118 million project will also include the city's Emergency Operations Center — a meeting room where staff gathers to respond to emergencies — and a community room.

In considering the massive project, council members found themselves wrestling with two competing priorities: the need for an adequate public safety building and the need to prudently manage the city's finances at a time when revenues are taking a big hit. While Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council member Greg Tanaka both proposed delaying the decision, the rest of the council voted to approve a series of contracts for the new structure — most notably, a $92.3 million contract with Swinerton Builders — and to approve the financing of the project through the sale of bonds.

The council's 5-2 vote also authorized approval of a $3 million contract for construction management with Nova Partners and a $1.7 million contract with Ross Drulis Cusenbery Architecture for design services. With the approval, contractors are scheduled to launch construction in the coming months and complete the public safety building in summer 2023.

The decision followed hours of debate, with just about every council member acknowledging the city's dismal budget picture. Last year, plummeting revenues pushed the council to cut nearly $40 million from the city's budget and to reduce positions in police and fire departments. Among the hardest hit of the city's revenue sources was hotel taxes, which have dropped precipitously and which the council has been banking on for years as the primary mechanism for funding infrastructure improvements.

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Despite the ongoing budget uncertainty, the council majority concluded Monday that the project is critically needed and should advance. Leaders of all three of Palo Alto's public safety departments made the case for the new public safety building, as had prior police chiefs Pat Dwyer and Dennis Burns and former mayors Vic Ojakian and Judy Kleinberg, who had both served on the council in the mid-2000s. All emphasized the poor condition of the current police headquarters, which they argued is undersized, obsolete and seismically unsafe.

Police Chief Bob Jonsen called the current police headquarters at City Hall "subpar, inadequate and frankly out of alignment with the city we serve," an assessment that echoed findings from numerous citizen commissions and independent assessors dating back decades.

The Palo Alto Police Department's current headquarters is in a wing within City Hall, which is visible in the background. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

In early 2000s, the council explored the need for a new police building to replace the 1971 facility that the Police Department occupies today. The council commissioned a citizen task force that in 2006 issued a report that recommended "in the strongest possible terms that the City proceed expeditiously to build a new Public Safety Building."

Ojakian, who co-chaired that committee, told the council Monday that the current facility is "woefully short on square footage and has an abundance of issues that make it out of compliance with a number of regulations and common practice."

Subsequent assessments reached a similar conclusion. Citing the cramped and seismically unsafe conditions in the current police headquarters, which is located in a City Hall wing, a specially appointed committee evaluating the city's infrastructure needs called the existing headquarters "unsafe and vulnerable" in its 2011 report.

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The sense of urgency didn't always spill over to the broader public. Various surveys commissioned by the city over the years have showed that while a majority favors moving ahead with a new police headquarters, the support generally did not reach the two-thirds threshold necessary for approving a public bond. As a result, rather than going to the voters for a bond, the council included the project on its 2014 list of projects and asked voters to approve a hotel tax increase, with the understanding that proceeds would fund the items on the list.

The list included a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101, two rebuilt fire stations, new garages in downtown and the California Avenue business district and the public safety building.

With its $118 million price tag, the police building is by far the most expensive project on the list. The second most expensive is the $50 million garage that the city finished constructing last fall at 350 Sherman Ave., next to the lot where the police headquarters is set to go up. The projected price tag for the police building has roughly doubled since 2014, when the city estimated that it would cost about $57 million, though staff emphasized that the bids it had received in January are about 5% below the most recent estimates from city engineers.

The design and review processes alone are projected to cost about $10.2 million, of which $8.5 million has already been spent on design contracts and salary expenses.

In making the case for the building, Fire Chief Geoffrey Blackshire, Office of Emergency Services Director Kenneth Dueker and Jonsen all underscored the inadequacy of the status quo. The existing 25,000-square-foot headquarters is far too small to accommodate the department and it fails to meet existing regulations pertaining to seismic safety, holding facilities and access by individuals with disabilities.

Jonsen said that while employees have been tolerating the cramped conditions in the existing police headquarters with few complaints, he is concerned that their tolerance is based on a shared assumption that their workplace would be improved once the new public safety building is approved. The new structure would be a three-story, 56,000-square-foot building with a two-level garage.

"Our current building does not represent Palo Alto," Jonsen said. "Our community demands excellence from our public safety team and we need to provide adequate work facilities for the men and women who come here to serve."

Tanaka had served on the infrastructure committee that identified the public safety building as the city's highest priority. On Monday, however, he criticized the plan to sell certificates of participation to pay for the new police building, a financing structure that he argued "seems to be circumventing the voters." He contrasted the mechanism with the type of process that the city used to pay for new libraries: going to the voters and obtaining a two-thirds approval.

"If this is so valuable to the community, the community members should have no trouble voting for it. To me it seems to be more transparent and more democratic," Tanaka said.

City staff, meanwhile, lobbied hard for the new police building. Dueker said the proposed structure is both a building and a "platform" that would allow the city's emergency responders to withstand — and respond to — emergencies.

Palo Alto police Officer Donna Arndt, Agent Paul Brown, Officer Kimberly Collet and Det. Kenneth Kratt work inside the report writing room at the department's headquarters on Jan. 19, 2006. Embarcadero Media file photo by Norbert von der Groeben.

"It's a place where we can physically do our work on one hand, but it's also a place where our technologies can be installed and improved over time," Dueker said. "It's something that is meant to be … as future proof as anything we can do."

The council majority agreed that it's time to move ahead. Council member Alison Cormack cited the assessment of Burns, the city's former police chief, who had called the project "dangerously deferred."

"It's an enormous amount of money, and yet we find ourselves at a point in the saga where its's time to bring it to a conclusion," Cormack said.

Burt, meanwhile, suggested deferring the decision by a few weeks, until after the council received further information about the city's long-term financial outlook and its broader capital plan. He also recommended scaling back the project by possibly removing one of the building's two proposed underground levels and shifting some of the vehicles that were pegged to occupy those spots to the new garage on the adjoining lot.

Burt said that he didn't believe that "the bottom of the worst economic downturn we've ever experienced is necessary the right time to do it."

"Things have clearly changed since 2018," Burt said, referring to the council's approval of the building's design. "The world has changed and our budget has drastically changed. The notion that we can necessarily have all things that were possible two years ago is not realistic in my mind."

Council member Lydia Kou initially supported delaying the decision, though she strongly objected to Burt's proposal to use a portion of the California Avenue garage for public safety needs. Doing so, she said, would constitute a betrayal of area merchants and nearby residents, who were banking on the new garage to provide them parking relief.

Council member Greer Stone was also ambivalent about the project. While acknowledging that the new public safety building is critical, he bemoaned the lack of a seismic analysis demonstrating the need for the new structure. And even though he initially supported Burt's bid to delay the approval of the construction contract, he joined the majority after his colleagues agreed to direct staff to reduce expenditures relating to furniture, fixtures and equipment and to eliminate a proposal for construction cameras, which carried a $25,000 price tag.

Mayor Tom DuBois was more enthusiastic about moving ahead with the project, which had bedeviled generations of council members.

"I think we have the need, I think we have the financing and I think the time is right. … We should proceed and we should be proud that we're doing what we can to ensure safety of Palo Alto residents and be able to respond to those that need help when they need it."

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City Council approves construction of new police headquarters

Palo Alto's most critical infrastructure project now set to be completed in 2023

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Feb 1, 2021, 11:02 pm

After decades of debates, deferrals and disappointments, the Palo Alto City Council advanced on Monday the largest and most complex infrastructure project in the city's recent history: a new public safety building in the California Avenue business district.

Once built, the building at 250 Sherman Ave. will serve as the new headquarters of the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Services and house the city's dispatch operation. The $118 million project will also include the city's Emergency Operations Center — a meeting room where staff gathers to respond to emergencies — and a community room.

In considering the massive project, council members found themselves wrestling with two competing priorities: the need for an adequate public safety building and the need to prudently manage the city's finances at a time when revenues are taking a big hit. While Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council member Greg Tanaka both proposed delaying the decision, the rest of the council voted to approve a series of contracts for the new structure — most notably, a $92.3 million contract with Swinerton Builders — and to approve the financing of the project through the sale of bonds.

The council's 5-2 vote also authorized approval of a $3 million contract for construction management with Nova Partners and a $1.7 million contract with Ross Drulis Cusenbery Architecture for design services. With the approval, contractors are scheduled to launch construction in the coming months and complete the public safety building in summer 2023.

The decision followed hours of debate, with just about every council member acknowledging the city's dismal budget picture. Last year, plummeting revenues pushed the council to cut nearly $40 million from the city's budget and to reduce positions in police and fire departments. Among the hardest hit of the city's revenue sources was hotel taxes, which have dropped precipitously and which the council has been banking on for years as the primary mechanism for funding infrastructure improvements.

Despite the ongoing budget uncertainty, the council majority concluded Monday that the project is critically needed and should advance. Leaders of all three of Palo Alto's public safety departments made the case for the new public safety building, as had prior police chiefs Pat Dwyer and Dennis Burns and former mayors Vic Ojakian and Judy Kleinberg, who had both served on the council in the mid-2000s. All emphasized the poor condition of the current police headquarters, which they argued is undersized, obsolete and seismically unsafe.

Police Chief Bob Jonsen called the current police headquarters at City Hall "subpar, inadequate and frankly out of alignment with the city we serve," an assessment that echoed findings from numerous citizen commissions and independent assessors dating back decades.

In early 2000s, the council explored the need for a new police building to replace the 1971 facility that the Police Department occupies today. The council commissioned a citizen task force that in 2006 issued a report that recommended "in the strongest possible terms that the City proceed expeditiously to build a new Public Safety Building."

Ojakian, who co-chaired that committee, told the council Monday that the current facility is "woefully short on square footage and has an abundance of issues that make it out of compliance with a number of regulations and common practice."

Subsequent assessments reached a similar conclusion. Citing the cramped and seismically unsafe conditions in the current police headquarters, which is located in a City Hall wing, a specially appointed committee evaluating the city's infrastructure needs called the existing headquarters "unsafe and vulnerable" in its 2011 report.

The sense of urgency didn't always spill over to the broader public. Various surveys commissioned by the city over the years have showed that while a majority favors moving ahead with a new police headquarters, the support generally did not reach the two-thirds threshold necessary for approving a public bond. As a result, rather than going to the voters for a bond, the council included the project on its 2014 list of projects and asked voters to approve a hotel tax increase, with the understanding that proceeds would fund the items on the list.

The list included a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101, two rebuilt fire stations, new garages in downtown and the California Avenue business district and the public safety building.

With its $118 million price tag, the police building is by far the most expensive project on the list. The second most expensive is the $50 million garage that the city finished constructing last fall at 350 Sherman Ave., next to the lot where the police headquarters is set to go up. The projected price tag for the police building has roughly doubled since 2014, when the city estimated that it would cost about $57 million, though staff emphasized that the bids it had received in January are about 5% below the most recent estimates from city engineers.

The design and review processes alone are projected to cost about $10.2 million, of which $8.5 million has already been spent on design contracts and salary expenses.

In making the case for the building, Fire Chief Geoffrey Blackshire, Office of Emergency Services Director Kenneth Dueker and Jonsen all underscored the inadequacy of the status quo. The existing 25,000-square-foot headquarters is far too small to accommodate the department and it fails to meet existing regulations pertaining to seismic safety, holding facilities and access by individuals with disabilities.

Jonsen said that while employees have been tolerating the cramped conditions in the existing police headquarters with few complaints, he is concerned that their tolerance is based on a shared assumption that their workplace would be improved once the new public safety building is approved. The new structure would be a three-story, 56,000-square-foot building with a two-level garage.

"Our current building does not represent Palo Alto," Jonsen said. "Our community demands excellence from our public safety team and we need to provide adequate work facilities for the men and women who come here to serve."

Tanaka had served on the infrastructure committee that identified the public safety building as the city's highest priority. On Monday, however, he criticized the plan to sell certificates of participation to pay for the new police building, a financing structure that he argued "seems to be circumventing the voters." He contrasted the mechanism with the type of process that the city used to pay for new libraries: going to the voters and obtaining a two-thirds approval.

"If this is so valuable to the community, the community members should have no trouble voting for it. To me it seems to be more transparent and more democratic," Tanaka said.

City staff, meanwhile, lobbied hard for the new police building. Dueker said the proposed structure is both a building and a "platform" that would allow the city's emergency responders to withstand — and respond to — emergencies.

"It's a place where we can physically do our work on one hand, but it's also a place where our technologies can be installed and improved over time," Dueker said. "It's something that is meant to be … as future proof as anything we can do."

The council majority agreed that it's time to move ahead. Council member Alison Cormack cited the assessment of Burns, the city's former police chief, who had called the project "dangerously deferred."

"It's an enormous amount of money, and yet we find ourselves at a point in the saga where its's time to bring it to a conclusion," Cormack said.

Burt, meanwhile, suggested deferring the decision by a few weeks, until after the council received further information about the city's long-term financial outlook and its broader capital plan. He also recommended scaling back the project by possibly removing one of the building's two proposed underground levels and shifting some of the vehicles that were pegged to occupy those spots to the new garage on the adjoining lot.

Burt said that he didn't believe that "the bottom of the worst economic downturn we've ever experienced is necessary the right time to do it."

"Things have clearly changed since 2018," Burt said, referring to the council's approval of the building's design. "The world has changed and our budget has drastically changed. The notion that we can necessarily have all things that were possible two years ago is not realistic in my mind."

Council member Lydia Kou initially supported delaying the decision, though she strongly objected to Burt's proposal to use a portion of the California Avenue garage for public safety needs. Doing so, she said, would constitute a betrayal of area merchants and nearby residents, who were banking on the new garage to provide them parking relief.

Council member Greer Stone was also ambivalent about the project. While acknowledging that the new public safety building is critical, he bemoaned the lack of a seismic analysis demonstrating the need for the new structure. And even though he initially supported Burt's bid to delay the approval of the construction contract, he joined the majority after his colleagues agreed to direct staff to reduce expenditures relating to furniture, fixtures and equipment and to eliminate a proposal for construction cameras, which carried a $25,000 price tag.

Mayor Tom DuBois was more enthusiastic about moving ahead with the project, which had bedeviled generations of council members.

"I think we have the need, I think we have the financing and I think the time is right. … We should proceed and we should be proud that we're doing what we can to ensure safety of Palo Alto residents and be able to respond to those that need help when they need it."

Comments

Another Bob
Registered user
Community Center
on Feb 2, 2021 at 11:42 am
Another Bob, Community Center
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 11:42 am

Did any of the contractors mentioned in this article work on the Mitchell Park Library or the fire station at Embarcadero and Newell? As I recall, there were a few problems...


Len Ely
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:12 pm
Len Ely, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:12 pm

For the council to spend this kind of money at this time is almost criminal. As mentioned by another publication the annual cost of this "Bond" is about $5million a year. I would much rather see this money be used for police persons so that when I call the police a police person actually shows up. The other day there was a major accident which blocked Middlefield. It took about 15 to 20 minutes for someone, not a police officer, to show up. The person had no ideas on how to direct traffic. We need police persons not a building. The $118 million is about $2000 worth of debt per resident.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:20 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:20 pm

Another Bob is a master of understatement.

Totally disgusted by this. Fully expecting them to spend more money of the idiotic fiber project.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:24 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:24 pm

I listened to the CC meeting and emerged with some questions.

Why was the vote on this agendized before CC has convened to review the broader capital improvement plan? Given the powerful impact Covid has had on the economy, I think Burt’s suggestion to delay this vote was sensible.

And what about the rest of the building? We are told that the wing that houses PAPD is inadequate in many ways, including not meeting current seismic standards. Does that concern apply only to the PAPD part of the building? That’s hard to imagine – unless the balance of the building was retrofitted.

And why wasn’t Burt’s suggestion to save millions by reducing the parking structure to 1 level given more consideration? Time and again we are told that buildings near transit are ideal for reduced parking requirements. This building is a short distance from the Cal Ave train station and the new, enormous parking structure is nearby. Even if some functions other than parking need to be housed on the 1st floor of the parking structure, given new economic realities, Burt offered a sound suggestion.

Left dangling: whether essential services could be cut to meet our financial obligations for this should revenue from TOT and Sales not align with the projections used to justify the yes vote. If the City’s economic recovery isn’t robust, we could find ourselves with a state-of-the-art public services building for a critically reduced roster of essential personnel.

After the vote, CC turned its attention to the public lavatory contract that should have been resolved two years ago. Isn’t this something the City Attorney should have handled in 2019? If the reason for the delay was explained, I missed that, but the bottom line is this: Palo Alto can find $1M for two toilets but it cannot find ~$831.5k to fully fund firefighters and EMTS.

Time will tell, but right now it looks like last night was not a great one for common sense.


Resident8
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:43 pm
Resident8, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:43 pm

Thank you to the City Council for voting to approve the PSB after the construction has been delayed since 2008. The ability of a police station, 911 call center and office of emergency services be able to function during and after a major earthquake and not be offline possibly for several years afterwards and cost much more to build is a big win. The facilities were too small to function effectively and woefully inadequate and outdated and unsafe for the staff.

With regards to the Newell fire station, the city collected penalties for the contractors missing dates and so at the end of the day it came out within budget. Sad to see Pat Burt try and undo the community consensus on the Cal Ave garage, which would have resulted in more worker parking in the nearby residential neighborhoods. Any savings from removing a level of the garage would have lost due to increased design costs and rising interest rates. Just like in 2008, it also probably would have resulted in the PSB not being built anytime soon. Also, people continue to misunderstand capital vs operation budgets. Bond financing is best done during a recession when there is lots of uncertainty and interest rates are exceptionally low. It's also stimulative.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:49 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 12:49 pm

My comment is not about the necessity or not of a new building (I happen to think it is, but that's beside the point), it is whether or not the Council is listening to itself. The hypocrisy of doing things such as eliminating the shuttle and other things because of cost, and then going ahead with expensive new projects does concern me.

If the City is in such poor financial condition, how can such expenses be approved? Are we trying to be be more frugal to save money, or are we not? Are we robbing Peter to pay Paul? Are we saying one thing and acting another? Are we being penny wise and pound foolish?

I just think there is clouded thinking here. What sort of message is being delivered? Perhaps we are not in such a financial predicament as the Council wants us to believe?


Samuel L.
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2021 at 1:06 pm
Samuel L., Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 1:06 pm

What happens with the current police station once the new one is built?; Was that factored into the cost? Will it sit there like the old PAMF building? Will the city spend 10s of millions more to turn it into administrative offices?


Zhao Lin
Registered user
another community
on Feb 2, 2021 at 1:09 pm
Zhao Lin, another community
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Is not a new police station a symbol of civic pride to exemplify law and order in Palo Alto?

In the PRC and Hong Kong, authoritarian buildings housing the police are a testament to maintaining the status quo and suppressing dissent.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Feb 2, 2021 at 1:37 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 1:37 pm
Resident8
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2021 at 2:09 pm
Resident8, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Actually in the US, the Capitol Police saved our democracy so you can still express your opinions when they run counter to the (ex) supreme leader. You don't need police, EMTs or Fire till you call 911 and then you really need them.


film jedi
Registered user
Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2021 at 2:24 pm
film jedi, Downtown North
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Don't forget the overpriced PR person that they hired at well over $100,000 per year. Is this really what residents think is important?


Oh well.....
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2021 at 3:31 pm
Oh well....., Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 3:31 pm

Yep, the current City Hall building is entirely seismically unsafe. Maybe they would be better served by demolishing the entire building and constructing a building safe for all staff and the public.
Bonds for city projects cost taxpayers money and must be repaid by taxpayer money.
Guess the City Council and Mayor weren’t completely honest when they claimed city finances were in dire straits after all.


Old Steve
Registered user
St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 2, 2021 at 4:25 pm
Old Steve, St. Claire Gardens
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 4:25 pm

Easy Folks, Most of City Hall is just an office building. Not the part that houses Police, Fire, and OES. I'd think you'd want a dispatch center available after an earthquake closes City Hall. Above somebody wanted more officers. More patrols are not worth much if response can't be coordinated through a dispatch center. In case of large incidents, EOC brings together many agencies in the same room, for a quicker, better organized response. Not great if such a high tech operation is under a tower office building that has to be closed after a large earthquake. And yes, we do get the government we deserve (and pay for).


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2021 at 8:37 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 8:37 pm

I support the new police station, it’s needed for safety of police personnel and effective operations. I just hope the project management goes well, is well-monitored. This is earthquake country.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2021 at 10:16 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 10:16 pm

YEAH - happy we are getting a new police station that has all of the most current bells and whistles. This city and cities around us are experiencing big leaps in problems so it is important to make a stand against the rising tide of problems and establish a strong position of safety and stability. Yes - worth all of the cost as it will be there from now on many, many years.


Toyon Berry
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2021 at 10:54 pm
Toyon Berry, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 2, 2021 at 10:54 pm

Thank you Pat Burt and Greg Tenaka for trying to introduce some common sense and caution. The action taken by Council was irresponsible. We'll be paying for it for years to come.


J. Adams
Registered user
another community
on Feb 3, 2021 at 1:37 pm
J. Adams, another community
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Given past discussions regarding the high cost of residency in Palo Alto especially for teachers and public safety personnel, will the new police facility offer hotel-like accomodations with laundry services for its officers who reside outside of Palo Alto and a professionally staffed cafeteria?

And will the new facility have a forensic crime lab with state-of-art diagnostic equipment and a firing range to accommodate all calibers of weaponry including SWAT team assault rifles?

Lastly, will the police department still be operating gas-powered vehicles for the time being? If so, underground gas tanks and pumps should be installed to accommodate convenient and timely fill-ups.

The new building appears large enough to house these additional amenities and more + I imagine many Palo Alto residents would prefer a police station that stands out above all others in the peninsula.


Paly Alum
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2021 at 5:32 pm
Paly Alum, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2021 at 5:32 pm

This is such great news! With the new liberal President's plans and our liberal leaders, we really need our police force. I toured the PAPD building and it was a 70's throwback experience. The 911 dispatchers are in the basement, not a great environment. If you are interested in learning about what the police do, they offer a great free course where you can also tour the station, ride along with a cop, and sit with 911 dispatchers: Web Link

Our police dedicate their lives to our safety. The new building is easily higher priority than a bike bridge to Google that few would use. To those who are anti-law enforcement, please don't ever call them when you need help.


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2021 at 11:22 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 8, 2021 at 11:22 am

I found myself agreeing with Council Member Burt's arguments. I support replacing current police station with a new public safety building. I have toured the current facility, and it is sorely lacking in many areas that are important to the department's work and the safety of our valued public safety workers. That said, it makes sense to wait about six months--to see where the economy goes. Construction prices which are currently very high may fall in that time, and the city could save a lot of money that could be used for other pressing infrastructure needs.

Reducing the parking garage from two-to one-story to save millions also is very sensible. What's the rush?


Resident8
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2021 at 1:07 pm
Resident8, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 13, 2021 at 1:07 pm

The increased bond interest rate, design & construction costs would more than offset the savings of reducing the police station parking from 2 stories to 1. Thus ultimately costing more to get less. The single story garage was just too crammed when this option was studied closely and decided against. You would also be increasing the number of day worker cars parked in the adjacent residential neighborhood, reducing customer parking for local retail/restaurants and spaces for the long waiting list of requests for parking spaces from daily office worker commuters. There is already far more demand for the garage than spaces.


J. Manders
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2021 at 9:01 am
J. Manders, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 14, 2021 at 9:01 am

The question is...will the added expense of this new police headquarters actually make Palo Alto a better and safer place to live OR is it just another waste of municipal funding to accommodate police-related creature comforts?

If law and order is the primary concern, then hiring more police officers is a better use of fiscal resources. Add to that the increased use of the PAPD Reserve officers & creating neighborhood watch committees where residents keep an eye out on their own streets and homes, only calling the police when absolutely necessary.

Residents are also permitted to make citizen's arrests and if this involves the further licensing of weapons permits, with proper training in firearms usage police interventions could be minimalized as they would only be needed to haul the suspects away to county jail following apprehension.

Residents should also consider having trained dogs such as German Shephards, Dobermans and Rottweilers for added home security or pitbulls.

These crime prevention measures would make Palo Alto a safer community from home burglaries, street robbery and predatory assaults.

No intelligent person (or aspiring felon) argues with a loaded firearm or angry dog.


Palo Alto Green
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2021 at 2:56 pm
Palo Alto Green, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 14, 2021 at 2:56 pm

@J. Manders

The current police station cannot effectively accommodate the current officers so hiring more into a fundamentally disfunctional, obsolete, much too small facility is not a win.

Also, I assume you were writing the above in satire because your proposed solution of everyone running around with guns and attack dogs making citizens arrests would be a total disaster. A police officer must be highly trained and vetted before beginning service whereas your average resident is much more likely to mess things up, will not effectively collect evidence or provide for due process for a court hearing and is much more likely to get emotional and cause harm to others if trying to stop a crime. The odds of a dog attacking an innocent child is much higher than a criminal.


NRA Member
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 14, 2021 at 6:47 pm
NRA Member, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Feb 14, 2021 at 6:47 pm

@Palo Alto Green

While your concerns are noteworthy,
given the rash mishandling of firearms by various police departments throughout the nation, a well-armed citizenry with trained attack dogs is not that unreasonable as a pre-emptive crime deterrent.

Only California, Illinois, New York and the District if Columbia restrict the open carry of registered firearms and guess what?

They have the highest crime rates in the United States.

While I am not advocating vigilantism, citizens have a right to protect themselves and if more people were packing armed, the potential troublemakers would probably think twice.

And the same goes for having a well-trained attack dog. Police departments also have them so these dogs can't be all that detrimental when it comes to preserving the peace.

Besides, a dog chasing an intruder may prevent having to discharge a firearm.

Dogs and guns are integral elements to a safe society, providing the gun owners and the dogs are trained properly and responsibly.


Palo Alto Green
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Palo Alto Green, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 14, 2021 at 7:00 pm

California's not even close to the highest crime rate in the US and Texas is slightly higher (along with many other high gun ownership states): Web Link

Self defense is different than running around trying to make citizen's arrests with guns and attack dogs. Just call 911 and let the pros do the job right in a way that best protects everyone.


Justin Taylor
Registered user
another community
on Feb 14, 2021 at 7:36 pm
Justin Taylor, another community
Registered user
on Feb 14, 2021 at 7:36 pm

In response to the earlier postings...

We were advised by our local PD that it is OK to shoot an unwelcomed home intruder providing they are actually inside your home, posing a threat and not merely outside in the front/backyard or hopping a fence.

That said, we have a household rule. Our children (who are still minors) must be home by 12 midnight unless they phone in advance to inform us that they will be detained.

I do not not own any handguns but I keep a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with rock salt shells.

In the event of an uninvited intruder, I will shoot below the waist to subdue them and then our doberman Kaiser will intervene until the police arrive.

No accidental killings involved and that is the best I can do to protect my family.

Incidentally, the doberman never wanders off our property and we have signs warning strangers not to enter the premises without prior approval.

So when if comes to getting shot, stupid is as stupid does.


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