News / Follow-Up

City Mgr. Tells Council City Will Seek Fed'l Taxpayer Dollars To Restore Fire Engine 17 (Argonne Ave, Serves Parts Of ELB-Central LB); FEMA Grant Decision Expected In April-May

No Councilmember(s) or Mayor ask why LB taxpayers don't have Engine 17 AND Engine 101 (second apparatus for downtown high rise-density) despite Measure A ("blank check") sales tax increase...which they had before former Mayor Foster/former Council recession-prompted "proportional budget reductions" is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(March 6, 2019, 8:50 a.m.) -- As carried LIVE on and flash-summarized on's home page and Facebook pages, City Manager Pat West told the City Council at its March 5 meeting that city staff hasn't identified structural (ongoing) funding to restore Fire Engine 17 at Station 17 (Argonne Ave. NE of the Traffic Circle, with a wide service area stretching from Central LB to ELB.) but plans to seek a federal taxpayer dollars (a FEMA "Safer" [Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) grant]) that, if approved, might last for a year or two (with funding thereafter left to future discussions.) City Manager West indicated FEMA's decision on the City's application is expected roughly 30-60 days after the City files its application [FEMA deadline is March 22.]

Neither 4th dist. Councilman Supernaw nor any Councilmember(s) nor Mayor Robert Garcia asked why the City hasn't restored Engine 17 and Engine 101 (the second downtown engine previously maintained to address density/high rise issues) despite the Measure A sales tax increase (June 2016) that raised LB's sales tax to among the highest in the state and currently brings City Hall $50+ million paid by LB consumers annually.

Councilman Supernaw (elected May 2015) joined a unanimous Council in putting the general fund ("blank check") measure on the ballot (stating at the time that he'd "wracked his brain" before agreeing to do so accompanied by a non-binding Council "resolution" reciting the Council's then-stated intent to prioritize items including public safety.)

Since passage of Measure A, the Council has approved budgets that restored Fire Engine 8 (Belmont Shore), Rescue 12 (NLB), 22 citywide deployable police officers (out of 208 erased) and funded a number of infrastructure items but hasn't restored Engine 17 (ELB) or Engine 101 (second engine at Station 1 downtown, previously provided to address downtown high rise/density risks.)

[Scroll down for further.]

No speakers from the LB Firefighters Association (union) [which contributed large sums urging voters to approve Measure A] spoke on the issue (agenda item (#39.) It was the final item on the March 5 agenda and Mayor Garcia chose not to move it closer to the top of the agenda.



Councilman Supernaw, who took office in May 2015, has prioritized restoring Engine 17, mindful that in January 2014, a multi-unit residence burned across the street from Station 17 ( coverage here) while Station 17 lacked Engine 17 to spray water to douse the flames. An engine had to come from further away with the fire roughly doubling in size every minute after a previous Council (that included then-Councilman/Vice Mayor Robert Garcia) "balanced" City Hall's spending budgets by erasing Engine 17 under what then-Mayor Bob Foster called "proportional budget reductions."


On July 31, 2018, the City Manager's proposed FY19 budget didn't include restoring Engine 17 but Mayor Garcia's budget recommendations (approved by the Council) asked city management "to identify new revenue" to do so. Mayor Garcia said at the time that he was "confident we can make these restorations in 2019" and likened the situation to FY17 [when the Council pressed management to identify funds at mid-budget-year that restored NLB Rescue 12 and added nine police officers beyond eight initially budgeted.] To hear Mayor Garcia's statement last year, see VIDEO clip from coverage below:

Councilman Supernaw was present at the July 31, 2018 FY19 budget press event and told he was pleased by the Mayor's statement...but roughly seven months later with Engine 17 still not restored, Supernaw was audibly displeased at a Feb. 26 meeting of the Council's Public Safety Committee. To hear his Committee comments, click here.



At the March 5 City Council meeting, Councilman Supernaw asked City Manager West for a timeline on the grant application. City Manager West indicated the application would be filed later this month [March 22 is FEMA's filing deadline] and expected to learn whether or not the application was successful in roughly 30-60 days. Councilman Supernaw asked nothing further.

As previously reported by, the item was added to the March 5 City Council agenda following a unanimous vote by the Council's Public Safety Committee (Price, Supernaw, Austin), seeking a City management report on the matter after LBFD revealed at the Committee's Feb. 26 meeting that Fire Engine 17 still wasn't restored. An LBFD rep told the Committee that it's prepared to restore Engine 17 "as soon as it's structurally funded." ("Structural funding" means a revenue source for ongoing funding year after year.)

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