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Alarcon Urges Bond Issue for 2 Police Stations : Safety: Councilman advocates a measure to finance facilities for the Mid-City area and the San Fernando Valley that were promised in 1989 but never built.

February 01, 1995|HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Councilman Richard Alarcon proposed a $100-million bond measure Tuesday to build police stations in the San Fernando Valley and Mid-City areas, facilities that were promised to voters more than six years ago but were never constructed.

With the backing of Police Chief Willie L. Williams and several other council members, Alarcon asked the City Council to place the bond measure before voters in June. Although the council is expected to decide sometime next week whether to put the measure on the ballot, it appears to have little, if any, opposition.

The two stations were originally to be built with the money generated by a $176-million bond measure approved by voters in 1989. But because police and city officials vastly underestimated construction costs, the stations were ultimately cut from a project list.

"It's not going to be an easy road considering that some of the promises made in the past did not come to fruition," Alarcon told the Los Angeles Police Commission before introducing the plan to the council.

As proposed, the bond measure would commit $35 million for a so-called Mid-Valley station to serve the communities of North Hills, Mission Hills, Arleta and Panorama City. Another $35 million would build a Mid-City station to serve Koreatown and adjacent communities.

The remaining $30 million would be used either to upgrade existing police facilities citywide or buy additional police equipment.

The 1989 ballot measure designated only that the money would be spent on police stations but did not say which facilities. Alarcon said his measure will specify where the money is to be spent.

The bond money would be paid back over 25 to 30 years with an annual $7.50 per residence increase in property taxes, according to Alarcon's staff.

Supporters noted that voters may be reluctant to support the bond measure because of lingering distrust over Proposition 2, the $176-million measure that 69% of voters approved at the urging of then-Mayor Tom Bradley and former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates.

In an opinion piece he wrote four days before the April 11, 1989, election, Gates said the measure would pay for new stations to serve the Valley and Mid-Wilshire areas. Police officials later acknowledged that they knew before the election that the measure could not fund all the projects that were promised.

Mayor Richard Riordan supports construction of the two stations but will not endorse Alarcon's measure until he gets a detailed report on how the city can spend the $30 million in citywide upgrades, a Riordan spokeswoman said.

Alarcon said the new facilities are needed to house the additional officers being hired under Riordan's police expansion plan. He said he also hopes the stations will improve police patrols in several crime-plagued neighborhoods in his northeast Valley district.

For months, Alarcon has argued that the poor, mostly Latino communities in the heart of his district have been underserved by police because they are on the outskirts of three existing police divisions and therefore farthest from police headquarters.

"Theoretically (the new stations) will reduce response time," he said.

In a related matter, the commission voted Tuesday to ask the council to spend $500,000 to search for two sites for the new stations and to conduct environmental studies to ensure that those sites are appropriate for construction.

In a report to the commission, Williams said the new stations are crucial because of significant population increases and corresponding increases in crime forecast over the next 15 years.

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