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City responds to sheriff’s station deal

Posted: February 15, 2012 9:13 p.m.
Updated: February 15, 2012 9:13 p.m.
 


One day after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a preliminary deal that would construct a new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and courthouse northwest of most of the valley’s population, Santa Clarita city officials called on the county to consider other options for the new station.

Tuesday’s action by supervisors is the first step in the process of approving a new sheriff’s station and courthouse at the site, according to a letter about the project from Los Angeles County CEO William Fujioka.

The county still has to perform and approve environmental studies for the development of the project, and complete other steps, before it can be approved.

There has been talk of a sheriff’s station on the West Side for years, and they support such a plan, city officials said Wednesday.

State officials had already announced the site near Castaic Junction would be the location of a new Santa Clarita Valley courthouse.

But shutting down the main Sheriff’s Station to locate a new station on the edge of the populated valley — that’s what caught city officials off-guard, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp said.

City officials said they were also surprised that no one from the county had contacted them about the plan.

City’s response

Under the plan proposed to supervisors Tuesday, the county would buy two adjoining 6-acre parcels from Newhall Land Development Inc. for $2.89 million each. One would host the courthouse; one would be the site of a new sheriff’s station.

The land is just off Interstate 5 near the existing California Highway Patrol station on The Old Road.

The city spends about $20 million a year on Sheriff’s Department services and fully pays for 84 sworn personnel and partially pays for 73 more, Pulskamp said Wednesday.

That leaves just 27 sworn personnel who are fully funded by the county.

“Without the city, (the county) would be building a 45,000-square-foot building for 27 deputies,” Pulskamp said.

The largest population center in the Santa Clarita Valley — and the area deputies spend the most time patrolling — is Canyon Country, Pulskamp said. That would put the community with the greatest population across the valley from the sheriff’s station, he said.

For example, the California Highway Patrol station to Canyon Country Park is estimated as a 12-mile drive taking 26 minutes.

Alternatives

Pulskamp said he would like to sit down with the county and offer several choices, including a city-owned parcel of land located near Golden Valley Road, which the city may give to the county for a new sheriff’s station.

The City Council had previously agreed to allow the state to use the land for free to build a new courthouse, so there’s a potential for that site to be approved for the county’s use, as well, he said.

Pulskamp also suggested that the city and county work together to perform a needs assessment, similar to an assessment with the Fire Department, which  led to the construction of several new fire stations.

A needs assessment would allow for better judgment of a new station size and location, Pulskamp said.

Rather than one new station on the outskirts of town, Pulskamp said he would like to see multiple stations with one central location in the center of the Santa Clarita Valley.

He also wants to see more deputies in unincorporated areas.

Next steps

Under the plan tentatively approved Tuesday, the new 45,000-square-foot sheriff’s station would be built using proceeds from the sale of the existing Civic Center site in Valencia and developer fees, according to a statement by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

The full cost of the sheriff’s station — including purchasing the land and designing and constructing the building — is estimated to be about $37.9 million, according to information from Fujioka.

An official from the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office said he was unable to immediately respond to questions about the sheriff’s station Wednesday.

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