Nearly one-third of a proposed $176-million bond issue will be used to build new police stations and improve existing facilities in the San Fernando Valley if approved by Los Angeles voters next month, officials said Tuesday.
Proposition 2, which voters will decide April 11, is being touted by proponents as essential to allow the Los Angeles Police Department to keep up with the city’s growth and to modernize its crime-fighting services.
If the proposal is approved and all the bonds are sold, $53 million would be spent in the Valley and several more million dollars would be used to improve centralized police facilities that serve the Valley, officials said.
Under the proposal, the $53 million would be used to replace the North Hollywood station, upgrade the four other stations in the Valley and add a sixth Valley station, tentatively planned for the vicinity of Balboa and Roscoe boulevards near Van Nuys Airport.
Mayor Tom Bradley and Police Chief Daryl F. Gates on Tuesday kicked off a campaign to support Proposition 2 at a press conference at the North Hollywood station. Gates characterized the station as an example of how overcrowded and deteriorated many of the department’s facilities have become.
Gates spoke about Proposition 2 in the detective bureau, where he said conditions illustrate the department’s needs. He said 40 detectives must work in a room about the size of a double garage, competing for work space, phone lines and enough quiet to concentrate.
“These are the detectives you depend on to solve complicated crimes,” the chief said. “They don’t have the area to work privately at all. How they do it, I don’t know. . . . The time has come. We must have the bond issue.”
The North Hollywood station, at Lankershim Boulevard and Tiara Avenue, is the oldest of the Valley’s stations. Built in 1958, it was designed as a base for a force of 108 officers. There are now 220 officers assigned to the station, and 260 are expected to work there by the early 1990s.
Station in Disrepair
Officials said the station’s heating, air-conditioning and electrical systems are in disrepair, resulting in its being hot in summer and cold in winter. Because of space problems, two trailer-sized shipping containers, which sit in the back parking lot, are used for evidence storage. The officers’ “weight room” is the back of a 1947 police truck parked behind the station.
File cabinets and even detectives’ desks are in hallways, closets and stairwells. Sleeping cots used routinely by officers who work late shifts but must return to work early the next day are crammed into a storage room where files and equipment are kept. There is only room for two cots in the crowded room.
“You have your choice of sleeping there or in the jail,” said Capt. Rick Dinse, the station’s commanding officer.
A private consultant’s report on a 1987 study of the station concluded that “with extreme inadequacies in several functional categories, North Hollywood station has reached the end of its usable life.”
Though exact plans have not been drawn, the station is likely to be rebuilt at the present location if the bond issue is approved. The proposal would earmark $14 million for the project.
Police said that if the bond issue is not passed, the city will have to seek other means of funding the priority projects in the proposal. They said the North Hollywood station was one of those priorities.
Proposition 2 requires two-thirds voter approval, officials said. If the measure is approved, the general obligation bonds would be repaid with property taxes of about $16 per year on a property with an assessed value of $130,000, officials said.
Other improvements under the proposal include building the new police station near Van Nuys Airport for an estimated $20 million, and spending $19 million to refurbish and repair problems at the four other Valley stations.
The bond issue would also pay for upgrading the facilities of the department’s police academy and the downtown communications center where all 911 calls in the city are received and dispatched. In addition, it would fund the upgrading of 14 other stations throughout the city.