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Los Angeles

LAPD Move Near Skid Row Proposed

January 15, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Two Los Angeles City Council members proposed Tuesday that police headquarters be moved temporarily to office buildings at 600-650 S. Spring St., saying the LAPD's presence there would help stymie vagrancy, littering and other crime in the area.

The proposed site at the edge of skid row could make the police headquarters a catalyst for change in the downtown area, said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who made the proposal along with Councilman Nick Pacheco.

"This provides the perfect laboratory for the chief of police to launch his oft-stated and ambitious campaign against the quality-of-life crimes which draw the lifeblood from some of our most cherished communities," Perry added.

The proposal, which would use two high-rise buildings now housing city Public Works Department employees, was endorsed by Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Assn.

"The city has had a long-standing policy of trying to revitalize the historic core, and this follows that," Schatz said. "At a time when so much is happening in that area in terms of new housing, it is a perfect idea."

The Police Commission recently voted to initiate the process of moving Parker Center's 1,200 police employees as soon as possible because the building near City Hall is a safety hazard. But the panel's executive director said he cannot support Perry's proposal.

"If the area is so unsafe, that doesn't say much for the safety of the civilian LAPD employees who have to work at night," said Executive Director Joe Gunn.

Deputy Police Chief Sharon Papa said the department would have to study the proposal before determining whether to support it.

A 1996 report commissioned by the city urged that Parker Center be demolished and replaced, rather than retrofitted with fire alarms and sprinklers, seismic safety features, a new roof and new floors.

Perry's proposal received a guarded response from other top city officials. Tim McOsker, who as the mayor's chief of staff sits on the city's Municipal Facilities Committee, said he needs more details before deciding whether the proposal has merit.

A motion introduced Tuesday in the City Council asks the General Services and Police departments to report back as quickly as possible on "required actions and the associated costs for converting 600/650 S. Spring St. into a temporary police administration building and an expedited schedule for move-in."

The two departments have looked at 95 properties for a temporary police headquarters site and culled the list to 25 possibilities, including the two buildings supported by Perry and Pacheco, said city assets manager Reginald Jones-Sawyer.

"This is one of the sites we thought could be suitable for the LAPD," he said.

Many of the buildings looked at in the downtown area have been eliminated because of the department's security requirements and the insistence of the police that they not share a site with other tenants.

The structures proposed by the council members have more than sufficient space -- 320,000 square feet -- and secured parking within the buildings, said Perry, who represents the downtown area.

One of the buildings is 17 stories, the other 12. Both are leased to the city by businesses headed by parking-lot magnate Joseph Lumer and his family, who have been major contributors to city political campaigns.

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