300 Fair Lane –The current Sheriff’s headquarters facility was dedicated on January 27, 1970. All functions of the Sheriff’s office on the west-slope, including the Placerville jail, were operating at the facility. At that time, the Sheriff’s total budget was $932,000, there were 83 employees, and the county population was 43,833.
By the early 1980’s it became obvious that the Sheriff’s Office had already outgrown the facility. Actions taken to address the overcrowding included building a modern jail at 300 Forni Rd., which houses a maximum of 311 inmates was completed in 1988 and the old jail was modified into our property and evidence processing and storage area. The current headquarters facility floor plan has been modified several times to improve our functions.
As the Sheriff’s Office outgrew its building, it became necessary to look for other options. This has resulted in leasing space at a significant cost to you – the taxpayers. Currently the 300 Fair Lane headquarters includes: patrol, administration, records, and property and evidence. All other functions are in leased office space or at other county facilities near Placerville. Those areas are: 911 dispatch center, Office of Emergency Services, radio communications shop, fiscal, detectives and narcotics, property and evidence (three offsite locations), civil, training, coroner, background and administrative Investigations, and personnel.
The headquarters facility is no longer able to house all of the necessary functions of the Sheriff’s Office. Over nineteen studies and plans have been done at taxpayer expense. The proposals contained in these studies have ranged from a 32,000 square foot facility with additional off site facilities to a 106,331 square foot campus. The cost estimates from these studies have ranged from $32 million to $52 million. Staff estimates the total cost of these studies to the County and other agencies has been $700,000 to $1 million.
The Sheriff’s Office headquarters currently occupies 50,914 square feet. Functional space for the morgue, range, storage areas and future expansion would require an additional 46,296 square feet of space.
During the survey conducted in July of 2011, the following issues were identified to replace the current Sheriff’s Office headquarters:
1. The County pays $256,057 per year in rent for off-site facilities.
2. There is insufficient space and ventilation to properly process large amounts of marijuana and other illegal drugs.
3. Specialty units have insufficient storage space.
4. The demolition of the current headquarters would allow future expansion of the government center, saving rents for other County-leased facilities and
allowing more parking.
5. There is no secure receiving area or loading dock to accept large deliveries, evidence or ammunition.
6. The emergency generator is not sufficient to meet operational requirements.
7. Past modifications to the building do not match the electrical or HVAC systems.
8. Over one hour per day of productive time, per Deputy, is lost due to an inefficient flow from the building into the vehicles and out of the parking lot.
9. The Department stores ammunition and explosives at headquarters without sprinklers or adequate ventilation.
10. There is inadequate security at the current headquarters which places employees at risk.
11. Many staff work spaces are housed in conditions deemed not fit for inmates.
12. Insufficient toilets, showers and lockers exist for the current number of employees.
13. The armory lacks adequate ventilation and lighting.
14. The crime scene investigation laboratory lacks adequate ventilation and lighting and cannot be used without evacuating other areas.
15. The old jail’s sewer plumbing causes odors in the work spaces.
16. The removal of Sheriff’s operations housed in the Government Center would allow other County agencies to use 8,000 square feet of space saving
other lease costs.
17. Insufficient parking exists at the current headquarters to accommodate the public, employees, and County vehicles.
18. Headquarters functions are geographically separated, which requires the public to walk and to drive to widely dispersed locations.
The El Dorado County Grand Jury has also investigated the Sheriff’s headquarters facility in the past, regarding unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Their comments included that the facility does not have adequate space for the number of personnel assigned to the building, that crowding of office furniture results in very poor working conditions, including improper lighting and ergonomic problems, that storage areas do not have adequate ventilation or proper refrigeration, and that officers’ dressing and shower area is too small for the number of personnel using it. The Grand Jury further recommended that the Board of Supervisors should provide adequate facilities to house personnel of the Sheriff Department.
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training
In 2013, at our, request the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) conducted a gratis facility study of our headquarters building. They made recommendations including that the Sheriff’s Office would benefit from consolidating its various sites and functions in the Placerville area into one headquarters building, that a new facility should consider future growth, build-out and storage for many years, and that the Sheriff and Command staff should have easy access to important functions such as internal affairs, personnel, fiscal, and payroll which should be located in the headquarters facility or in a secure area on headquarters property.
The savings from the current offsite rental space that houses headquarters functions over 20 years is projected in 2013 dollars to be between $5,638,105 for a 1% increase each year to $6,880,329 for a 3% increase each year. Projecting out for a 50 year life of a facility the savings is expected to be $16,506,204 for a 1% increase per year to $28,882,348 for a 3% increase per year.
Additional savings to the County could be realized by utilizing the space currently occupied by Sheriff’s Office offsite functions that are currently housed in County owned facilities for other County offices currently housed in rental properties. The savings to the County is estimated to be $3,609,229 over 20 years and $15,150,875 over 50 years.
Efficiency savings will be achieved with the reduction in travel times between rental locations and the current headquarters facility in 2013 dollars, including wages, benefits, and mileage. These savings will increase over this time span as the costs increase. The County will realize a long term benefit to the removal of the existing headquarters. The value to the County of the current 22,000 square foot headquarters site is estimated to be $1,522,500.
In June of 2013 Vanir Construction Management Inc. completed a “Condition Assessment” of all county owned facilities including the current Sheriff’s Office Headquarters. This assessment found that the existing Sheriff’s Office Headquarters 21,354 square foot building would require $3,091,586 in upgrades (about 61% of the replacement cost of the existing square footage.) The upgrades would only address the structural issues with the building. The assessment concludes with the statement that the “County should consider replacing this facility. The cost to upgrade this facility including ADA requirements is not justified.”
The cost of continuing to rent properties to house current off- site functions for 20 years would be between $6,880,329 and $28,882,348 over 50 years. Rental property to house an expanded evidence and property storage facility over 20 years is estimated to be between $10,495,568 and $44,058,456 over 50 years. The County is facing the risk that as the building continues to degrade, and without action to replace the building, employees will eventually be sent home with compensation as the work place will be uninhabitable, resulting in a loss of service delivery.
Rent Additional Space to Replace Current Headquarters
The cost of continuing to rent properties to house current off- site functions for 20 years would be from $6,880,329 and $28,882,348 over 50 years. Rental property to house an expanded evidence and property storage facility over 20 years is estimated be between $10,495,568 and $44,058,456 over 50 years.
The Sheriff’s Office headquarters is required by Government Code Section 24250 to be in the County seat or conveniently located to the citizens, normally the population center of the County. Continuing to use rental properties to house Sheriff’s Office headquarters functions will also be hampered by the availability of suitable rental property in these areas. One of the rental properties currently being utilized was built in 1963 and another in 1970.
The availability of rental space for 17,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of warehouse space to replace the current headquarters in the required area is limited and would not be a long term solution. Continuing to separate the headquarters functions will result in the degradation of service to the community and the restriction of public access to the Sheriff’s Office.
Rent to House All Headquarters Functions
This option would entail renting approximately 106,331 square feet of suitable space. The examination of possible locations in the area required by Government Code Section 24250 resulted in no suitable locations. It is doubtful that specialized functions such as evidence/property storage, CSI laboratory, range and morgue could be housed in rental property. Sufficient rental space for this option does not exist in the required area.
Build a New Headquarters Facility
In August of 2013, Vanir Construction Management Inc. completed an “Operational Assessment and Facility Study” of the current Sheriff’s Office Headquarters. This study found that a facility of 106,331 square feet would be required to house the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters for the next 40-50 years. Vanir reported an estimated cost of $52 million. These numbers are variable depending on the site and final design of the facility.
By consolidating all of the headquarters functions, the Sheriff’s Office would realize improved internal communications, higher levels of productivity and productive time, improved public access and service and lowered risk of service interruptions due to the failure of the current headquarters building.
In addition to addressing the aging facility concerns of the existing headquarters, a new facility would allow the Sheriff’s Office to bring the off- site headquarters functions to one site to eliminate rental costs, open lines of communication, improve work efficiencies, allow technological expansion and improve access and service to the public. This project will be designed to serve the Sheriff’s Office needs into the future within a reasonable cost to the County.
Many years ago El Dorado County faced a similar problem regarding consolidating County government services and providing adequate facilities for public services. The site upon which the current El Dorado County Government Center is located was purchased in October 1966. The Board of Supervisors understood the needs of the County and had a vision for the future. The Board of Supervisors involved in the purchase of the land consisted of Joe Ronzone, Hiram Walker, Wes Worrell, Ray Lawyer, and Ray Chism.
After the failure of bond issues for construction of proposed buildings, subsequent boards voted to set aside a reserve annually for building programs. At that time the County Government offices were located at a former muffler factory on Cold Springs road. And then the building began. The first on site construction was the Sheriff headquarters-jail complex, followed by Juvenile Hall and the Probation Department. A building for the County Agricultural Office was next. In 1977 the County Government Center was dedicated, and plans moved forward for a County Library.
Fast forward to July 2014 – The County has grown to a population of 181,737. Who could have predicted or planned for such a significant increase in population? The Sheriff’s office has also grown to meet our public safety needs. Our budget is now $60 million and we have 371 dedicated men and women serving all of our communities.
This problem has been discussed over and over for decades and I am concerned that we again will reach a point of “analysis paralysis”. The time for action and leadership is now, when land, labor and financing costs are relatively low.
There are financing options available that would not require raising taxes. El Dorado County has weathered the financial crisis very well due to the conservative fiscal practices of the Board of Supervisors, other elected officials and employees at every level of County government.
Sheriff’s Office staff and I have been working closely with the Board of Supervisors, the Chief Administrative Officer, County facilities staff and the County Facilities Investment Team on this project. They have displayed true leadership and a vision for the future. In fact the Board of Supervisors designated the Sheriff’s Facility replacement as the number one construction priority.
In the last year the project management team has made several presentations to the Board of Supervisors including the needs assessment, facility study, and site selection criteria. We have delivered an honest, ethical, transparent and high quality process to move forward with this project.
On Tuesday July 29th, the Board of Supervisors will receive a presentation regarding financing options. I encourage interested members of the public to attend. It is our hope that with the Board of Supervisors’ leadership and vision, a new public safety headquarters facility will be completed in the near future.
Over the last several years I have had the opportunity to speak to you – the citizens I work for at our “We Work for You” community meetings, public forums, and service groups. I have explained and discussed the true need to replace our headquarters facility. I have received overwhelming support and encouragement. Thank you for your continued support for El Dorado County public safety, and remember – We Work for You.
Sheriff John D’Agostini