As the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station nears completion, City of Santa Clarita and station officials offered a sneak peek of the state-of-the-art facility.
SCV Sheriff’s Station Captain Justin Diez and Project Manager Ross Pistone gave a tour of the new station’s construction site to members of the media on Friday, with a goal to open in the coming months.
Centrally located on Golden Valley Road, the 46,552 square-foot station nearly doubles the amount of space compared to the current station built almost 50 years ago in 1972.
The project, a partnership between the City of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles, also features a 4,165 square-foot vehicle maintenance facility, communications tower and a helipad.
If the needs of the station grow further, there is a future building pad, with utility hook-ups ready, which can increase the capacity of the station by up to 8,000 square feet.
SCV Sheriff’s Station 2.0
In the decades since the current SCV Sheriff’s Station was opened, the Santa Clarita Valley population was at 50,000, compared to an estimated 290,000 residents as of 2020.
The new building allows all members of the station to be housed under one roof. Currently, due to space restrictions, the detective bureau operates out of a remote location.
Diez said having all investigators and civilian staff together will not only provide better workflow but will also increase communication between different divisions.
One room of the new station contains several units — Carrer Offenders, Burglary, Robbery and Assault (COBRA), the Juvenile Intervention Team (J-Team), Crime Prevention Unit (CPU), Crime Impact Team (CIT) — as well as deputies assigned to Gorman area and Six Flags Magic Mountain.
These specialized units are now housed right next to the detective bureau, and can “pop in” to ask questions if needed, Diez said.
Other units, including traffic, also have increased space, with traffic Sgt. Scott Shoemaker adding motor deputies currently have to share computers.
A larger 9-1-1 dispatch center is also housed in the new facility which is able to accommodate a much larger number of operators than the current station.
“Above and Beyond”
The complex is built to one-and-a-half times the earthquake guidelines for a normal structure, due to the facility deemed an “essential use facility,” according to the project manager.
“Everything we do is above and beyond,” Pistone said. “The steel, the welds, the concrete, that all plays out in not only the cost but time to complete the project.”
A large diesel-powered generator is on-site, with 1,000 kilowatts of power, estimated to run “every single light” at the station for 72 hours on one tank, Diez said.
The generator further ensures that dispatch operations continue in the event of a power outage or major emergency.
To further prepare and respond to large emergencies, the new facility features a community room that can serve as an emergency operation center. A space the current station does not have.
Diez said the room will lead to increased communication during a major emergency or disaster, with representatives from multiple agencies able to be in one place.
The station’s operation center is expected to work in tandem with Santa Clarita City Hall.
Upgrades Inside and Out
Outside the main building, there is a maintenance facility, vehicle car wash area, fueling stations and covered duty bag lockers next to where patrol vehicles are parked.
“Having a maintenance facility like this is going to be huge,” Diez said. “In theory, we would be able to do most things here.”
Due to limited capabilities at the current station, vehicles are sent to Pitchess Detention Center or as far away as Downtown Los Angeles for repairs, according to Diez.
The maintenance facility also is able to house storage for off-road vehicles and equipment for search and rescue.
A large vehicle storage area is expected to house specialized vehicles including the armored “Bearcat” and the station’s mobile command unit.
In the far corner of the complex is a helipad designed for the department’s largest helicopter, the Super Puma known as “Air 5.” The current station does not have that capability.
The new helipad is expected to make it easier for rescues conducted by Air 5, which assists the Santa Clarita Valley Search and Rescue Team.
Each building, and the 180-foot communications tower, have lights to enable helicopters to land at all hours of the day and night.
Making The Switch
An estimated date of completion has not been announced as of Friday with Pistone saying it is “months away.”
Diez is excited about the move but said it is going to be hard work ensuring there is no disruption in communication services, including dispatch.
“The move-in, as you can imagine, is a whole other process,” Diez said. “Think about dispatch, flipping the switch on day one, getting dispatch moved over. And not the actual people working dispatch but the equipment.”
Plans for the current sheriff’s station after the move are not known, with the county exploring options for the building.
“There are many possibilities,” Diez said. “We are in the very, very early stages. We probably won’t know for another six months… that has been the question that everybody wants to know.”
The new SCV Sheriff’s Station is located at 2601 Golden Valley Road, in between Center Pointe Parkway and Robert C. Lee Parkway.
L.A. Mayor Signs Camping Ordinance Aimed At Restricting Homeless Encampments
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed an ordinance on Friday aimed at restricting homeless encampments in certain areas of the city.
The ordinance, which is set to take effect 30 days from the signing date, bans camping near “sensitive” facilities including within 500 feet of schools, daycares, parks and libraries, according to the L.A. City Council agenda.
In addition, the measure also restricts sitting, lying, or sleeping as well as storing, using, maintaining and placing personal property in any public right-of-way such as ramps, driveways or bike lanes, among others.
On Wednesday, the council voted 13-2 to approve the measure before Garcetti’s signature.
Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman voiced opposition to the ordinance, with Bonin recalling his own struggle with housing.
“Some of those nights I slept in the car, some of those nights, when my car was in the shop, I slept on the beach. I cannot tell you how much turmoil is in your heart when the sun is setting and you don’t know where to sleep,” Bonin said. “I cannot tell you how demoralizing and dehumanizing and defeating that experience is when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep.”
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the measure helps regulate shared public spaces while “acting with compassion and purpose” to help people experiencing homelessness.
“This ordinance establishes fair and clearly defined rules for how sidewalks in Los Angeles are regulated — while linking those rules to a comprehensive, compassionate strategy for street engagement that will establish reasonable pathways to positive outcomes and, ultimately, permanent homes,” O’Farrell said.
In order to enforce the new order, the City Council has to take action through a resolution to designate a certain area for enforcement, according to the ordinance.
The city plans to send out “street engagement teams,” along with law enforcement, to assist those experiencing homelessness in the designated encampment by providing connection to services, including interim housing.
Last month, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released a report outlining the number of shelter beds available across the county.
The number of homeless shelter beds in the L.A. region has increased by over 50% in the past three years, however, demand still outpaces the capacity, according to the agency.
LAHSA found that the L.A. region’s shelter capacity on any given night was 24,616 beds — less than half of the estimated 66,000 people on the street countywide.
The previous Homeless Count was conducted before the pandemic, with many housing experts and community members reporting an increase in the unhoused population in the past 18 months.
L.A. Homeless Shelter Capacity Up 57% In Three Years, Still Less Than Demand
The number of homeless shelter beds in Los Angeles has increased by over 50% in the past three years, however, demand still outpaces the capacity.
The 2021 Housing Inventory Count and Shelter Count, released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Wednesday, shows the nightly shelter capacity in the L.A. area has grown despite challenges faced by the pandemic.
LAHSA found that the L.A. region’s shelter capacity on any given night was 24,616 beds, a 57% increase over the last three years. The agency also reported 33,592 permanent housing options, an increase of 16% over the same period.
Through “unprecedented coordination” and a critical influx of state and federal emergency funding, the L.A. region’s rehousing system’s response to COVID-19 saved lives, according to Heidi Marston, executive director of LAHSA.
“We must build off of that momentum as we emerge from the pandemic to build the infrastructure necessary to address our homelessness crisis and collectively confront the conditions that continue to push people into homelessness,” Marston said in a statement.
The Los Angeles region needs to build a more balanced system with more housing options. A balanced rehousing system has five permanent housing exits for each shelter bed; the Los Angeles system is closer to one-to-one, according to the executive director.
The Housing Inventory Count is a census of all interim and permanent housing options in the homeless rehousing system at a given point-in-time. This year, the Housing Inventory Count occurred on Jan. 27.
LAHSA reported these results despite the global pandemic causing a considerable strain on its shelter supply.
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, all of Los Angeles County’s congregate shelters had to decrease their bed count through a process called decompression.
However, strategic investments by the federal, state, and local governments through Project Roomkey and Project Homekey helped make up for the loss of capacity, according to the agency.
The Shelter Count revealed that there were 17,225 people in a shelter on the night of the count, which is virtually unchanged from the previous year.
LAHSA cited that without the addition of 2,357 Project Roomkey beds and 497 Project Homekey beds, there could have been a more significant drop in the shelter count due to decompression.
Following the advice of public health officials, LAHSA did not conduct an Unsheltered Count in 2021 to protect the 8,000 volunteers needed to complete the Count each year from COVID-19. The agency is planning to resume the Unsheltered Count in 2022.
Home Prices In San Fernando Valley Reach New High, Median Nearing $1 Million
The median price of San Fernando Valley homes sold during June reached a record high while sales soared 56.9% and the number of properties listed for sale lingered at low levels.
The median price was $955,000, up 28.9% from June 2020, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors (SRAR).
June was the fourth consecutive month with the median above the $900,000 benchmark.
“Not long ago it would have been inconceivable that the San Fernando Valley would see the median home price inching toward $1 million,” said Diane Sydell, president of the association in a statement. “Now it seems inevitable, especially with today’s wealth of buyers, dearth of inventory, and heated competition over virtually every listing.”
The condominium median price for June was $519,000, up 12.8% from June 2020, but 3.9% below the record high $540,000 set this April.
A total of 554 single-family homes closed escrow during June, up 56.9% from a year ago and 11.5% ahead of May’s tally. It was the first month this year above 500 sales and the highest monthly total since June 2018.
The statistics for condominium sales were not as dramatic, in part because of the extremely limited supply of condominiums listed for sale, according to SRAR.
There were 725 active home and condominium listings at the end of June, the first month above 700 listings this year.
“The market has been overheated and buyer fatigue may be a factor going forward,” said Tim Johnson, the association’s chief executive officer. “Too many buyers are weary of competing with unseen competitors and losing to a higher bidder even when they come to the market fully prepared to buy. ”
That may translate in buyers being a bit more cautious, which when combined with the
reopening of the economy may yield a slowdown in sales and a few more listings.
Yet Johnson stressed that a “few more listings” doesn’t go far, even if some buyers are starting to take a bit longer to jump into the market.