The City of Manhattan Beach’s public safety building houses both the police and fire departments. Photo by Esther Kang
Since its grand opening on July 1, 2006, the two-storied public safety building in downtown Manhattan Beach has been lauded as a state-of-the-art facility, housing both the police department headquarters and main fire station. It’s one of the city’s newest and largest facilities, one that cost $40.7 million to construct after years of deliberation.
According to a recent facilities condition assessment by city-hired consultants, the police/fire building will require the greatest anticipated expenditure in repairs and maintenance among the 45 city-owned facilities over the next 10 years. In a 10-year forecast, Faithful & Gould consultants estimated an expense of $10.5 million total to maintain all buildings up to par, $1.8 million alone for the public safety building.
This steep estimation in repairs for the relatively new building has raised some eyebrows, yielding questions about oversight, code compliance and whether the assessment should be taken with a grain of salt. Councilmember Mark Burton said he too was confounded by the vast and costly repairs required for the public safety facility. Carpeting, stucco and sealants are listed among the needed replacements for the 60,000 sq. ft. building.
Next Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers, the City Council will discuss how it should undertake the recommended expenditures and address the facilities assessments in greater detail as part of a study session on the city’s Capital Improvement Plan and Facilities Strategic Plan.
“I just feel that if it had been properly supervised those things shouldn’t have happened,” historian and former mayor Jan Dennis said. “It’s a lot of money for a brand new building that took years to plan and execute. I just thought the city owes the taxpayers some answers.”
At the Oct. 1 City Council meeting, then-City Manager Dave Carmany stated that building was not built to code, that it wasn’t inspected properly. “The contractor might have a responsibility to bring it to standard,” Carmany said. Last week, he declined to elaborate on his comment and directed inquiries to city staff.
However, public works director Tony Olmos said it’s unlikely that the facility wasn’t built to code, although he was aware of the city’s challenges with the building contractor which resulted in delay.
“My experience with buildings is that you’re not gonna get a certificate of occupancy unless is acceptable per code,” said Olmos, who joined the city in August. “We did have a difficult contractor from what I was told…but that did not include waiving off code requirement.”
According to the report, deferred repairs alone, recommended to be addressed in 2013, add up to $530,000. Of that amount, $40,000 are marked “priority one” due to code compliance and safety issues: replacing covering material and nosings at stair treads for $25,000, and replacing egress lighting with LEDs for $15,000.
Other scheduled maintenance over the next 10 years include repainting interior walls and ceiling surfaces, replacing the carpet and repainting facade, replacing rooftop exhaust fans in year 2020 and upgrading the control system in 2021.
Olmos said the $1.8 million estimated for the public safety building’s maintenance isn’t out of the question – it’s a building that requires the largest dollar investment due to its expansive area of 60,000 sq. ft.
“When you take that into consideration, these numbers get pretty big over the 10-year period,” he said.
The building is listed in good condition according to the property condition rating in the report, he noted, and these costs primarily entail routine maintenance that aren’t necessarily needed immediately but in years to come.
“It’s the kind of thing you would do at your house, if you would want to maintain it at acceptable condition,” Olmos said. “We were actually in the police/fire building right now; the carpeting looks like it’s in good shape, but when we replace it it’ll be when we need it, in the out years.”