With construction slated to begin in 2024, market eyes shift to location a few blocks away
When the city council decided it was high time the city moved forward with plans to build a new building to house the Santa Barbara Police Department, everyone agreed. on one thing: it was a great idea!
The current station was operating in deplorable conditions. For one thing, it was way overcrowded. The building, designed to accommodate 60 to 80 police personnel, including officers, was packed, with more than 200 people, more than three times the original number.
Then there were the low ceilings, the water stains staining the carpet, the electrical cords hanging from the ceiling, and the windowless room in the basement where the dispatch worked before they were moved to better neighborhoods. And it still contains asbestos.
Mayor Randy Rowse told News-Press he had made several tours of the station and its annex. “I got the heebie-jeebies down,” he said, noting that he sometimes found himself almost banging his head against the ceiling. “There were four detectives in a room too small for furniture. They must have put their backpacks in the corner.
“It’s a woefully inadequate building, not up to modern safety standards,” he said. “And it doesn’t meet earthquake standards for essential buildings. It must be still when everything else falls.
“There are millions of reasons why this needs to be done. And it doesn’t hurt in terms of general morale and esprit de corps.
Police Chief Marylinda Arroyo, who has worked in the department for nearly three decades, continued the litany of issues.
“People who work in the police department do it every day, walking into a building that was built in the 1950s,” she told News-Press. “The first floor (basement) does not contain a toilet apart from the current men’s changing rooms. The second floor has public restrooms in the lobby, but very limited facilities for employees.
“A person requiring disabled access on the ground floor must enter the building through the side door, as the front interior doors are not wide enough to allow wheelchair access. The only way to get to the third floor is by stairs, and there’s only a very small one-person elevator. This elevator only allows access to or from the basement or first floor only.
“Police services are currently spread over four separate buildings, and the main building has people working in what have been built as closets. Parking is extremely limited for staff as well as the public. There are leaks, cracks, old pipes and constant tripping of circuit breakers in the electrical system. »
The station, she said, “is not cut out for 2022 operations.”
So yes, everyone agreed that it was time to build a modern facility designed for the 21st century.
There was just one problem. What to do with the Saturday Farmer’s Market, poorly located in the very spot where the city plans to build the new police station: a suburban lot at Cota and Santa Barbara streets.
Where would they go? When would they leave? What would happen to the market, which so many residents relied on to buy locally grown produce?
Council members, speaking at the July 19 meeting when they gave the go-ahead to fund continued architectural and design services for the new station, recalled the overflowing crowds of Farmer’s Market supporters flooding the council chambers, demanding answers.
“We really highlighted how important the farmers market is to the community, and how special the location is, and how many customers come out regularly,” Sam Edelman, farmer’s market manager, told The News-Press.
On average, the Saturday market attracts around 6,000 people a week, he said. In summer, more than 95 farmers participate, while the number drops to around 80 in winter.
So city officials got to work researching alternative sites for the Farmer’s Market relocation.
The council formed a Farmers’ Market Committee, made up of council members Kristen Sneddon, Meagan Harmon and Eric Friedman, who were tasked with finding a more convenient location if and when the Farmers’ Market was forced to relocate.
Meanwhile, the Farmers Market board reviewed 15 possible sites, “which proved to be unsuitable for the size and scope of our operation,” Edelman said. They narrowed it down to a single site capable of accommodating an operation of this magnitude: State and Carrillo streets, just five blocks away.
Apparently, the new location was close enough to allay residents’ concerns, close enough for attention to return to the construction of the new police station.
Council members voted to award a $4.5 million contract for continued architectural and design services to Cearnal Collective, the firm contracted to build the new 53-foot-tall, 64-foot-tall police station. 000 square feet.
“Our team has spent countless hours in the current police station, assessing their current conditions and interviewing the entire department, from chief to bottom,” architect Brian Cearnal told News-Press.
“Working conditions are woefully inadequate for a modern police service. They are split into three separate locations, depriving the necessary interaction and communication between staff and direct contact between the 911 call center and agents. And yes, it is overcrowded with no room for growth. There is a lack of natural light and it is insufficient in terms of seismic safety, accessibility and equal access.
He said the planning process would hopefully be completed after the Planning Commission meeting on August 11.
“We’ve been working on the project since 2018, evaluating various site options, then refining the design at the Cota site, working on the design with ABR and the community, and finally doing the environmental review,” he said. . “We will work on the detailed design and construction documents for the next year, then we will obtain planning permission, bid on the project and select a contractor. Hopefully construction will start in 18 months and construction will take another 18 months.
Construction is expected to begin in 2024.
Mr. Cearnal noted the highlights of the new station that will be built.
“First and foremost, the police department will be in one place, downtown, with adequate parking for fleet and personnel. The new building is designed to meet the future needs of the service in a flexible and evolving envelope over time. It is also designed as a “Net Zero Carbon” building at the highest level of sustainability.
“The space has been carefully planned to facilitate communication and inclusivity with work spaces full of light. It will have a beautiful and welcoming public lobby that will connect to a community meeting room.
The new station will unify dispatch with staff and officers going on patrol. There will be a training range in the basement, a meeting room on the second floor that can be used by several city agencies and the public, a single unisex locker room that all officers and employees can use, a fitness center ‘fantastic’ physics with outdoor deck and lounge for police officers with outdoor dining area.
Investigations and a crime lab will be on the third floor, along with the police chief’s office.
“I sincerely believe that this building will create an environment that will make a huge difference in the morale of the department and the attitude of our community towards its police,” Cearnal said. “Our team is so proud to be part of it.”
Mayor Rowse said he was particularly pleased with plans to build an adjacent parking structure that can accommodate 236 parking spaces, with 128 spaces for police department fleet vehicles and 108 spaces for employee vehicles. He called this crucial, as officers need easy access to their cars in order to respond quickly to active crime scenes.
Chief Arroyo said her department couldn’t wait for the new station to open. “Employees are looking forward to a new building and are optimistic that it will be done soon,” she said.
As for the farmers’ market, “they will be able to stay at least until construction begins,” Cearnal said.
Mr Edelman said a “significant amount of planning” will be required before the market move date. “It’s a major operation,” he said.
To date, the new site has undergone a preliminary review by city staff, “and it appears to be a feasible location,” Edelman said. It still has to go through the planning commission and the city council, he said. Local merchants and businesses in the sector will be consulted.
The new site, he said, will be about the same size as the current location, Mr. Edelman said.
“We hope the community will follow us wherever we go and support us there.”
Mayor Rowse added, “We recognize that the Farmer’s Market is part of the cultural fabric and we want it to succeed and survive. People consider it part of their way of life. We have to make sure we keep them.
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