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Scherer Park/NLB Police Station Sparks Council Encounter With Councilmembers Grabinski & Webb and Colloquy With City Mgr. Taboada

We post transcript excerpts, below

(May 28, 2001) -- In what could be a preview of the upcoming City Council showdown over a proposed expansion of LBPD's North Division police facility into several acres of Scherer Park, 7th district Councilman Ray Grabinski (opposed), City Manager Henry Taboada (presenting staff's position) and 8th district Councilman Rob Webb (supporting) traded views on the issue during the May 22 City Council budget workshop. provides transcript excerpts, below:

Councilman Grabinski: ...[T]he reason there's any concern about doing anything in Scherer Park is because we made a bonehead play by putting that [LBPD north division temporary facilities] there in the first place...What you end up seeing is that the only place we've got to expand Scherer Park, ladies and gentlemen, is Scherer Park, am I correct? In less than ten years, we went from a junky little facility to a facility that looks like it costs $8 million, is that right?

City Manager Taboada: Well, we went through a transition from what was simply a one-story cement building that was a block-based building that was not functional. It was then augmented with trailer space to make it into a functional substation, functional to the extent that it accommodated a temporary use and now this new facility requires even a greater footprint to meet the standards established by the westside police substation.

Councilman Grabinski: Can we see that slide? There's a point to be made here...Now that just about closes off the park. And I guess what I'm saying is that's what we've done in about the space of about a decade, is we had that little place that wasn't big enough, and we added trailers to it, which put public safety in a terrible position because by everybody's admission, we have them in bad space, inefficient operation, in some cases probably dangerous conditions. So now, in order to save money, 'cause that's what I heard, in order to save money, we're using the footprint of the west Long Beach police facility, right?

City Manager Taboada: That's correct.

Councilman Grabinski: To operate on a piece of ground that's sloped, but it's going to save us some extra money. And if you look, the reason I'm showing you this, is because if that ever has to be expanded in the future, you will not go out into Del Amo, you will not go out into Atlantic, you will be taking more park. And since they have it up on the wall right now, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know that they're going to be bringing us a zone change that's going to make that park "institutional" in order for it to be a legitimate zone change.

And I guess what I'm saying is, since we're talking about how we've expanded and what's been happening in the city, we'd better be looking at that five years and ten years from now and saying to ourselves that we might have to rezone more of that park because that's what you do with prudent planning. And I don't know that all of this is very prudent planning...

My point in all of this is that I don't believe the numbers. Number one, that number for the police substation at $8 million, and zero dollars for land, I guess I don't quite understand that, that's before we get rapped by people in the public, where is the extra dollars going to come from, is that going to be part of the bond issue too?

City Manager Taboada: There is no dollar amount needed for additional land.

Councilman Grabinski: Why?

City Manager Taboada: Because it's there.

Councilman Grabinski: So the assumption is that we will not have to put any money aside for new park land, we can just take what's there?

City Manager Taboada: Well it's not part of this budget. There is a number of other sites that are being contemplated for replacement park land. It's just part of this budget.

Councilman Grabinski: ...But there's every possibility that this one could go to court just like the [El Dorado Park] sports complex?

City Manager Taboada: Well there's always that possibility.

Councilman Grabinski: So what's Plan B?

City Manager Taboada: Plan B is, we determine what we do when we get to that point.

Councilman Grabinski: So there's no alternative to the site you just put up on the wall?

City Manager Taboada: There is no physical property identified as suitable for this particular project other than those sites that were evaluated as part of the EIR. One of those sites has been taken off the market [former Dooleys] so that's basically not available to us. The other site [Atlantic Plaza] has some operational considerations that were deemed non-acceptable by the police department, so in terms of where do you go next, we'd be looking at the same situation we found ourselves in when we relocated the ECOC.

Councilman Grabinski: ...[B]ecause we're talking about public safety facilities, the loss of time can put us in great jeopardy, and I think we're heading right into more jeopardy with this particular project, especially with the comments we just heard, which are that we are providing absolutely no alternative nor any dollars, even though we've projected dollars in a bond issue we haven't made yet for all the building, we have not projected any dollars in this particular presentation, for any offset of any of the land, that we're going to be taking to put this project in.
Councilman Rob Webb: I'd like to make a couple of comments, regarding my colleague Councilmember Grabinski's comments. And he brought up some good comments, so I would like to ask a couple of questions.

One, regarding to the planning, because certainly we didn't realize many years ago, when we were going to decentralize our police station, and end up needing to build police stations all over this city, and so he brought up some good comments.

First, I would like to say the proposed location that you [city staff] put up a slide for, that is a proposed location. This City Council has not set that policy yet, so it would be fair to state that that decision lies within this City Council and not the staff at this point in time, but it is a proposed location that you move forward on based on policy that was set by this City Council, isn't that correct?

City Manager Taboada: That is correct.

Councilman Webb: Secondly...the police substation that is being proposed that is coming to City Council with a proposed site that was shown on a slide, that is projected for how many years, it will be suitable and will accommodate our needs for a projection of how many years?

City Manager Taboada: 50 year life.

Councilman Webb: 50 years that will suit our needs. Based on the architects and what we have presented right now, if in 50 years we needed to expand, could we go up and put a second floor on this to accommodate more needs? Is this something that we've addressed, since we're discussing, and my colleague brought up the issue of planning, I think this is...

Public Works Director Ed Shikada: I'm sorry, I do not know the answer.

Councilman Webb: OK. That is something that if staff could address before this comes back to Council I'd appreciate it. Lastly, it was noted that replacement park land was not presented in, or at least discussed, as far as the budget proposal in this particular capital improvement plan.

I'd like to say that first of all, I will not vote to approve any police substation to go in Scherer Park unless we are going to replace it acre for acre somewhere within the North Long Beach adjacent community. This City Council approves the budget, is that not correct Mr. Taboada?

City Manager Taboada: That's correct, sir.

Councilman Webb: And could we direct you to incorporate additional money in the bond indebtedness to replace park land acre for acre?

City Manager Taboada: Absolutely.

Councilman Webb: And we could direct the staff to have that money placed somewhere should that move forward in that location?

City Manager Taboada: We could escrow any amount that you've designated as appropriate for that purpose within an account to be used for that purpose.

Councilman Webb: Thank you, Mr. Taboada. I just wanted to make clear how we were going with this. I have no further questions, Madam Mayor.

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