(Regarding the PSB)

Marilyn Stollon has done a great deal of research on Kensington related issues which she has posted on Nextdoor in the Kensington Local Issues Group.

September 15, 2022

Research Facts on Combined Fire and Police Stations and Typical Square Footage

1. Only 3% of police and fire stations are combined nationwide. Sometimes police and court services are combined. Reported by GM Hansell.

2. Per KFPD report, “In the United States, it is uncommon for Fire and Police to be co-located in the same facility. For example, out of approximately 18,000 police departments in the United States, less than 150 have consolidated services under one roof.” 3/11/21 attachment E, Preliminary Needs Analysis by Chief Walt Schuld.

3. In a recent study/survey of police stations in CA, that I identified, and their use of space, the average was 347 sq ft per officer.

4. In Kensington, we are at about 250-280 per sq ft in the temporary portable bldg in EC for 10 officers, less if you factor in admin staff, reserves, and volunteers. This is below the average in CA.

5. Per the survey, “The resulting space per officer for the twenty-three agencies ranged from a high of 607 square feet to a low of 133 square feet. The average was 347 square foot per officer, with ten policing agencies above that average and thirteen policing agencies below that average. Sep 15, 2020” https://www.revenuecost.com/post/police-station-sizing

6. The Architect for KPPCSD Miers stated in a recent board meeting that the temporary portable police building is neither large nor small but STANDARD based on his experience for small departments, same for the Plans for renovated PSB for fire.

September 15, 2022

Fire Board Minimum Space Needs from 1997 to present.

This link is from the September 14 fire board agenda packet, it includes fire and police assessment reports including the one prepared and presented by Chief Schuld that outlines national police standards, typical space requirements, a study on average space requirements in different PD departments. March 2021

There are also fire district architect plans, multiple ones trying to squeeze them into one space, documentation of town hall, board meeting reports and analysis. Since 1997 it has been reported that first responders could lose their lives in that building due to seismic issues, overcrowding no doubt. Scan it to get an idea of what has been presented and discussed over the years.

We have had 2 shakers this week, felt more strongly up the hill, isn’t it time to get this done?

In another post I will report on other issues raised at the meeting, what the fire battalion chief said in terms of why the Watts plan won’t work.

I would like to suggest that all SKF slate candidates read this material and get fully informed and not just read sound bytes put out by their SKF steering group leaders ( i.e Dorrohs, Lipscomb, Gillettes , Watt, et al ). The fire district worked hard to get a plan that is reasonably sized per the Miers architect, he said the same thing about the police mod temp building.

It’s not just about money and taxpayers dollars, as the funding is worked out, it’s about finally providing a safe, professional working space for both Fire and Police in 2 buildings that complies with state and federal regulations and best practices.

5hr Public Forum on Minimum Space Needs. Available separately at this link (62MB):


31 August 2022

A Fiscal Disaster by Mabry Benson

It would be a fiscal disaster if a newly elected fire board would abrogate the renovation contract for the Public Safety Building which has been approved and signed, with work scheduled to start October 6.

1. The fire district would undoubtedly be sued by the contractor. Ca-ching!

2. It would cost a bundle to ‘re-do’ whatever was torn out. Ca-ching!!

3. We would never in the future get the sort of favorable financing the Board arranged for this project. Ca-Ching!!!

4. Any additional time delays would mean higher costs for everything in the project. Ca-Ching!!!!!

5. And what would we end up with?

6. A ratty, old, unsafe building that does not meet anyone’s needs.

7. No contractor would submit bids for any future building contracts.

Is this what we want for Kensington’s future?

Marilyn’s response:

The PSB is a bargain, costing less than a new building and way less than if they stopped now and restarted at high interest rates.

There is no simple seismic fix, that alone costs millions ( 5 I think) , and updating to best current practices is what they are doing, and the rest, $2M is for the move and temp facilities, altogether 7M. See the budget figures on my post in local issues( can’t cut and paste) . It’s come in lower than the first estimates.

I recall an estimate for a new building with both depts was $12M +several years ago.

Anyone who is in construction understands what happens when you cancel a major project. Deposits lost, can be sued for breaking a contract etc, other builders are booked years out for these larger projects, this isn’t a home renovation , where you reschedule. A retired public sector accountant told me it could cost the town millions!

Many of us believe it’s a good idea to separate two first responder depts, they are NOT normally housed in the same building in most towns. A low modular building and a new PSB could survive a quake.

The used modular Police building would be a deal, wasn’t it less than a million? Then we’d be done, professional, safe, attractive work conditions for all staff. A Nice place to work attracts quality staff.

Mabry was right on, and it’s time to move on .

Mabry Benson

Why the Kensington Police Department needs more space

Last week I met with Chief of Police Mike Gancasz to ask about the recent Proposed Alternative Plan for housing both the fire and police departments in the renovated Public Safety Building. He said that the current space allocated for police is inadequate. These are the reasons he gave me:

The Kensington Public Safety Building was designed and built Sixty years ago, using 1960’s architecture, building codes, and accepted practices. The building no longer meets the needs of the Fire Department or the Police Department. The existing floor plan, produced during the 90’s, served its purpose, but affords no room for growth, progress, or expansion, for either discipline if housed jointly. Forcing both police and fire to occupy less than adequate space is counterproductive for the community. The extremely limited space inhibits all staff member’s ability and desire to grow and perform the necessary functions of public safety. The overwhelmingly small space absolutely ensures “zero” growth for the police department and community and guarantees the public can expect to receive service limited to what was acceptable decades ago. We believe the Community of Kensington deserves all the benefits and services a contemporary police department can provide. The community deserves to have first class public safety and should ask “how do we ensure we have the best public safety now, and in the future” instead of “lets keep doing what we’ve always done”.

There have been changes in the laws in addition to new regulations. Adequately providing for employees and the public are triple what they were even just ten years ago. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a great example of this. Legislative initiatives have created safer work environments, benefiting all employees. The past 50 years have produced profound change in the American workplace. Modern, adequate office space, employee break rooms, locker rooms, and rest room facilities, are standard and “expected” accommodations in modern society and are not considered luxury. High speed internet, voice over internet phone systems, building alarms, OSHA compliant safety equipment, security cameras are all measures implemented decades ago in police departments. The current PSB struggles to keep the internet consistent and has regular “resets” to keep the computer server functioning. Bursting at the seams is an understatement when it comes to managing department property, and the floor plan is counterproductive to efficient, modern, public safety operations.

Other critical factors include but are not limited to:

* A police department’s operations and communications must be kept confidential and secure. This means areas where confidential communications are created, transmitted, and stored must be conducted in areas kept from civilian and non-sworn persons and only those persons who have completed a Department of Justice approved background search. Confidential information includes any information on investigations (including internal affairs investigations), performance reviews, and even information on vacation watch for residents. This requires private space for staff to conduct day to day police business in a safe, ethical, and industry standard manner.

* A Sergeant is responsible for supervising police officers and their work areas should be contiguous. Floor plans intentionally designed to remote locate supervisors away from rank-and-file officers, is not good practice and strongly discouraged.

* There must be a confidential, safe, and secure space to conduct interviews of adults and juveniles. Adult suspects must be kept out of view of juveniles. Civilians and suspects cannot be in proximity to weapons, department armory storage, or officer locker rooms.

* Evidence must be processed in an area free from cross contamination. Industry approved methods of processing, chain of custody, and security are all equally important to eliminate cross-contamination and preserve the integrity of the evidence. Property and evidence cannot be handled in a room where weapons, ammunition, and chemicals are stored because the potential of cross contamination could prejudice a case.

* All personnel (sworn and civilian) working inside the police department must undergo a background check. This will include firefighters if they have the potential to be exposed to confidential law enforcement information, police reports, DOJ teletype information, and confidential public information.

* Federal and state laws, the California Commission on POST, and District policy specify records that must be kept and detail retention requirements for documents which must be kept in a secure and confidential manner for specific time periods. This is beyond what was acceptable years ago. Maintaining these records, both digitally, and in paper form, require and occupy space in the police department.

Marilyn’s reply

Just to clarify, interim Chief Schuld pointed out they needed more space in a zoom board meeting, but added he could live with it if they were forced to, then he resigned in frustration no doubt. He presented photos of the cramped space and outlined the same needs much as Gancasz did with Mabry.

To correct some disinformation out there: The PSB is under budget, in contract with most of the budget for seismic work. It’s a deal, much less than a new building.

It is only once you present design plans to the county that you find out what new code requirements need to be met. Once KPD started looking at renovation they learned from the DOJ what best practices are now and what is required for approval. That’s why you are seeing required space for this and that. OSHA, ADA etc.

Lastly, a whole new KPD building will NOT be built, an inexpensive modular building is being reconfigured for up to 60 thousand and we can buy it for about 1/4 of what a new bricks and mortar one would cost. THAT is what’s being considered for the parking lot. A used modular building, 40×60 Very cost effective and that is what KPPCSD is pursuing now.