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    New Emergency Communications Center Now Handling LB's 911 Calls

    (November 5, 2003) -- Years later than promised, and at a location originally resisted by city management, LB's new Emergency Communication and Operations Center (ECOC) has begun handling LB's 911 calls.

    At the conclusion of the November 4 City Council meeting, 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell revealed that a seamless switchover to the new state of the art facility had taken place on October 26.

    I want to commend city staff, and this includes Fire, Police, Public Works, Technology Services, Financial Management and our City Attorney's office...for the smooth transition of emergency 911 calls on Sunday, October 26 to our new Emergency Communications and Operations Center located in the 5th district on Spring St. The fact that this changeover occurred without any service disruption is a monumental achievement to everyone involved...I am sleeping easier knowing we are not relying on the old, antiquated systems held together with tape and wire anymore.

    An official ribbon cutting will be held in a few weeks, but for LB's 911 calls the new ECOC is now operational.

    Two years ago, Councilwoman Kell credited a change in City Hall's initially proposed Stearns Park site -- which was changed to Spring/Redondo after a successful campaign led by 4th district resident Traci Wilson-Kleekamp -- with permitting time to incorporate important improvements in the ECOC facility.

    At the September 25, 2001 Council meeting on adopting plans and specifications and awarding a construction contract for the facility, Councilwoman Kell said:

    ...You can always do things fast, but you can't always do them right, and I'm delighted that this project is being done correctly. Not agreeing to build this center at Stearns Park two years ago may now be a blessing in disguise.

    Not only is this new site more accessible and has less of an impact to the neighborhood, but this two year delay has allowed us to learn about the feature designs which have worked well, and have not worked so well, at [the] recently completed Los Angeles City Emergency Operations Center and other newer facilities.

    This means that when our facility is built, we will be able to incorporate what worked at these other facilities while redesigning those features that need alterations. We have learned from their mistakes and will now have the newest, most effective, most efficient Emergency Communications and Operations Center in the nation.

    I for one am looking forward to the groundbreaking for this new facility next month, and even more to its completion at the end of next year.

    Prior to the Council vote, then-LB activist (now PhD and Monterey resident) Colette Marie McLaughlin came to the podium to recommend that the Council name the new ECOC for Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp since "she is the one that is responsible for this and we owe her much."

    Reached for comment after Councilwoman Kell's 2001 statement, Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp told

    "That's the great thing about doing the public's business in public. When you have public input, the results are better. Better technology, better location, better product in total."

    Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp's efforts culminated in a dramatic Council vote disapproving the city management supported Stearns Park site. City staff quickly came up with alternative sites, including the LB Water Dept. location at the southeast corner of Spring St. and Redondo Ave.

    Getting LB's new ECOC built and on line culminates a process than spanned over seven years. In August 1996, City Hall sought a tax increase ballot measure to finance the project. The Council (on motion by then-Councilman, now Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal) passed a non-binding "minute order" publicly committing to complete the 911/ECOC project by the end of 1999. Mayor Beverly O'Neill co-signed the 911/tax increase ballot argument reiterating the Council's commitment to a Dec. 31, 1999 completion date.

    When voters refused to approve the tax increase by the legally required 2/3 margin, then-City Manager James Hankla put alternative financing in place within just six to eight months. [ comment: That presumably meant the new 911 ECOC should have been completed roughly six to eight months later than originally promised, roughly mid to late 2000.]

    In December 1999, at the height of Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp's campaign against the Stearns Park site, a city staff memo conceded that City Hall's best case scenario for completing the 911/ECOC at the Stearns Park site was mid-2002.

    In Sept. 2001, Councilwoman Kell indicated completion was then scheduled for the end of 2002.

    In late October 2003 -- better late than never -- LB's new ECOC is finally online.

    And as a result of efforts by Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp (and others including ELB realtor Joe Sopo and park protection advocate Ann Cantrell), a chunk of Stearns Park was not lost to accommodate the large ECOC complex.

    And following a subsequent bruising battle (led by now-former LB residents Gigi & Reggie Bannister) over expanding a police facility into Scherer Park, the City Council approved in principle permitting a public vote on a charter amendment ballot measure (still to be written) to protect park land from non-park uses.

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