Ballot measure drafting for 20 new fire stations to be considered

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The San Diego City Council is scheduled to consider drafting a ballot measure to raise more than $200 million in bond funds for 20 new fire stations in San Diego.

The fire stations are designated in areas that receive response times greater than the standard 7 minutes, 30 seconds. If a ballot measure is constructed, it would need to be approved by two-thirds of San Diego voters in the November general election because it would raise property taxes.

A Folsom-based consultant, Citygate, found in 2010 that San Diego was in need of 19 new fire stations, of which 10 were considered critical.

It was discovered since then that the mechanism used to judge response times was flawed, so Citygate was re-hired to provide an update of their report. According to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Brian Fennessy, the results won’t be much different, but they could revise planned locations, priorities or even the number of stations needed — but the new data may not be available until fall, he said.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald said currently the city is building a fire station every five years. At that rate, it would take nearly a century to complete the number currently needed. Funding from her bond measure would allow the stations to be built in a decade.

Emerald has been meeting with community groups around San Diego to drum up support for the proposal. The average homeowner would pay $5 for every $100,000 in assessed value. That’s around $25 a year, she said at a meeting in April, calling it “a real value for greater public safety going forward.”

According to city officials, the average cost of a new fire station is $10 million to $2 million for land acquisition and planning, and $8 million for construction. The price tag varies depending on whether the city already owns the land, property values in a given neighborhood, and topography.

Categories: Local San Diego News