Arroyo Grande police station needs a new plan

Arroyo Grande Police Chief Steve Annibali wants to make one thing clear: While the two-thirds vote requirement to pass a bond to pay for a new police station was likely not met in this week’s primary election, the measure gained significant support.

“The first step is to recognize that 65 percent of the people supported the idea of needing a new police station,” he said. “We didn’t throw in the towel at any stretch. We just didn’t reach that threshold.”

City administrators are still waiting for about 1,400 absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. County Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said the remainder of the ballots should be counted today.

To reach the two-thirds majority — or 66.67 percent of the vote — about 70 percent of those outstanding ballots must be in support of the bond measure, she said.

Annibali said he and City Manager Steve Adams have already started discussing their options. Those could include repairing or replacing the existing station on North Halcyon Road and analyzing facilities that could serve as a new location — either owned by the city or some other entity.

A few issues at the current, 8,151-square-foot station may require immediate attention:

• The department’s roof leaks and is starting to sag;

• Seven department employees, including three full-time and two part-time detectives, work out of a 1,440-square-foot trailer the department acquired from the federal government for free in 2003; and

• Answering equipment for 911 calls has been squeezed into a closet with an air conditioning unit on the wall to keep it cool.

“We’re on the edge of having (the 911 equipment) in a facility that could fail on us,” Annibali said.

The city has so far spent $148,239 on the design and other planning aspects for the proposed station at West Branch Street and Rodeo Drive, next to St. Patrick’s School. About $400,000 had been budgeted for the project this fiscal year, which ends June 30, said Angela Kraetsch, financial services director.

Adams said the City Council will likely discuss its options in the next month. City Clerk Kelly Wetmore said the city

couldn’t go to voters again with a bond measure for at least six months, but it likely wouldn’t go to voters until 2012 unless the county had a scheduled election in 2011.

“The concern is that we’re going to miss the window of opportunity as far as construction costs being so low,” Adams said.