The City Council authorized the formation of a Public Safety Building Project Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) comprised of community members to bring ideas and solutions that address building a proposed facility for the Police Department. The BRTF will be charged with evaluating the needs of the Police Department, reviewing the studies and space planning documents, evaluating the suitability of potential sites within Palo Alto and evaluating the building size including the current Police Department building located at the Civic Center. This analysis will entail regularly scheduled public meetings throughout the year to discuss these topics, among others, and to obtain public comment during the process. It is anticipated that the BRTF will prepare progress and informational reports to City Council and recommend courses of action as necessary to help solve the current and future Police Department needs.
The City welcomes the BRTF members Ray Bacchetti, Jay Boyarsky, Harold Boyd, Paula Collins, Margo Dutton, Dan Dykwel, John King, Denise Lee, John Northway, Dave Ross, Peter Stone, Veronica Tincher, Karen White, and the Co-Chairs, former Council members, Victor Ojakian and Lanie Wheeler.
The existing Police building was constructed in 1967. Over the years, with minor expansion and remodeling, this facility now totals approximately 25,000 square feet (sf). Due to changes in code and regulatory requirements, the existing police building does not meet current seismic, accessibility and regulatory codes. Three space needs assessments from 1985 to 1998 were conducted and each study concluded expansion of the police building was necessary. Current and future needs ranged from a total of 50,000 sf to 70,000 sf. Differences in these assessments were due to assumptions made with each study on cost, demographics, population growth, technological and regulatory trends, central and accessible locations, inclusion of other City department functions to gain efficiencies, potential environmental impacts, parking and emergency operations.
In November 2005, Council directed the Mayor to appoint a community-based Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to evaluate the need, size, cost and site for a public safety building and asked that the results of this evaluation be presented in a report to Council by June 2006. The BRTF, co-chaired by former Mayors Vic Ojakian and Lanie Wheeler, met 13 times from January 5, 2006 to June 1, 2006. With the participation of 13 other community members with diverse backgrounds and the support of staff, the BRTF put in many hours of hard work conducted thorough research, and gave thoughtful consideration to its charge from the Council. The BRTF report was presented to City Council on June 26, 2006. The City Council unanimously approved the Public Safety Building Blue Ribbon Task Force Report recommending a 49,600 square feet building on a Park Boulevard site.
In September 2006, Council unanimously approved a design contract with RossDrulisCusenbery Architecture to begin the conceptual design and environmental assessment of a new public safety building on the Park Boulevard site. The environmental assessment is scheduled to be completed by December 2007. A potential bond election is anticipated for 2008.