Sheriff Baca Urges Local EOC Facility But County Has Other Plans
BY BILL KOENEKER
To thunderous applause, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca told the crowd at last week’s town hall meeting that he wants to bring a state-of-the-art emergency operations center training facility and policing station to the old Malibu sheriff’s station.
“It is a very exciting concept,” seconded Captain Tom Martin of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s station. “To have an actual training facility in this area.”
The law enforcement representatives talked about how the training campus proposed for the station closed in 1991 would have access to the radio relay tower, heliport and fuel pumps already in place. It would consist of two classrooms and the EOC.
Martin said the office space might also be used by the California Highway Patrol or the fire department.
Martin made the case that while Malibu is a safe community, more that 43 percent of the arrests in the Lost Hills jurisdiction occur in Malibu. He said a local substation would reduce travel time for officers and the public.
Baca talked about how disaster personnel would benefit from being in a perfect location for training because of the geographic features and the fact that there are 50 percent more disasters than anywhere else in the county.
But what wasn’t discussed is that the building is owned by the county and its use is determined by the board of supervisors. And currently, the board is in negotiations with Santa Monica College to sell the building for its use.
Baca had made it clear months ago that he was displeased with any other county plans for utilizing the station for anything but law enforcement.
However, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who said he did not want to engage in any war of words with Baca, confirmed that the county owns the building and any disposition of the property is determined by the board of supervisors.
Yaroslavsky indicated that the county is proceeding with sale of the property and negotiations have reached a breakthrough. “We are actively negotiating with the college. I personally have spoken with the president of the college. We are looking at preserving some space for a substation,” said Yaroslavsky, who added the plans for acquiring the property call for tearing down the building.
The supervisor said the first time anyone in the county heard about the sheriff’s plans for an EOC in the complex is when they read about it in the Malibu Surfside News.
“Nobody was consulted. Neither myself, the chief executive officer, the fire department. The EOC training center came out of left field. It does not make sense to have a fixed EOC in various regions. We have an EOC in East Los Angeles. You have got to be mobile in places liked Malibu and Santa Clarita. You can’t be a prisoner of a fixed asset. That is why we spend thousands of dollars on vans, trucks and other mobile units,” he said.
The supervisor indicated he believes it will be no more than two months before a sales deal is finalized and a term sheet brought back to the board. “The voters have said they wanted a college. The county, the city and the college have been working on this,” he said.