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Ground Breaking For New 911-ECOC

(October 29, 2001) -- The ground breaking for LB's long promised new 911 Emergency Communications and Operations Center (ECOC) took place this afternoon near the city's Water Treatment Plant at the southeast corner of Redondo Ave. and Spring Street.

Today's event capped a tortuous, sometimes acrimonious history.

In August 1996, City Hall sought public approval for a tax increase to finance what it called the urgently needed project. Councilmembers (on motion by then-Councilman, now Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal) passed a non-binding "minute order," pledging to complete the 911/ECOC by the end of 1999 and Mayor Beverly O'Neill co-signed the 911/tax increase ballot argument, reiterating the Council's "commitment" to a Dec. 31, 1999 completion date. Voters declined to approve the tax increase by the legally required 2/3 margin (roughly 55% voted yes).

LB's then-City Manager James Hankla put alternative financing in place within roughly six to eight months, meaning that based on the Council's previously stated schedule, the new 911 ECOC should have been completed roughly six to eight months later than first promised, roughly mid to late 2000.

However, when December 1999 arrived, a city staff memo conceded City Hall's best case scenario for completing the 911/ECOC at its then favored Stearns Park area site was mid-2002.

Meanwhile, intense opposition to the Stearns Park location, led by 4th district neighborhood activist Traci Wilson-Kleekamp and amplified by LB park activists including Ann Cantrell, produced a rare public Council dissent from city management: Councilmembers directed staff to identify other locations for the ECOC.

Staff came up with alternative sites including one at the southeast corner of Redondo Ave. and Spring Street near the city's Water Treatment Plant that was eventually selected.

At the September 25, 2001 Council meeting, 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell publicly credited moving the ECOC from Stearns Park to Redondo/Spring with allowing time to incorporate important improvements. 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.

Prior to the Council vote adopting the plans and specifications and awarding a $12.186 million construction contract to build the facility, LB activist Colette Marie McLaughlin came to the podium and suggested the Council name the ECOC facility for Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp since "she is the one that is responsible for this and we owe her much."

To some smiles, Councilwoman Kell quipped, "Del Roosevelt probably wouldn't like that." [Mr. Roosevelt, formerly the 4th district Councilman, was weakened in part by political fallout from the Stearns Park controversy and defeated by now incumbent Dennis Carroll.]

Reached for comment after Councilwoman Kell's comment, 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."

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