Placer eyeing sites for North Tahoe gov’t center | SierraSun.com

Placer eyeing sites for North Tahoe gov’t center

David Bunker
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunA holding cell in the Placer County jail sits empty.
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Placer County officials are considering six properties on the North Shore as the location of a new, centralized North Tahoe government building.

County government facilities are currently split up in nearly a dozen buildings from the West Shore of Tahoe to Kings Beach, and most of the buildings are leased, said Mary Dietrich, assistant director of facilities for Placer County.

“There’s not a lot of room for growth right now,” Dietrich said.

The county may do environmental tests on some of the possible government center locations, which had to be at least 2.2 acres in size. Officials may also seek appraisals before making a decision, she said.

“We’re working to understand these properties,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich said the evaluations, purchasing and planning process will take time.

“We’re early,” she said. “We’re at the very beginning of this process.”

The site of the government center location will be disclosed once county officials choose a location. A centralized government center does not have to be in Tahoe City, even though many of the county’s current facilities are located there now, she said. County officials are also open to locating the center in Kings Beach or the Martis Valley.

Placer County officials have long known that North Tahoe’s county facilities need an overhaul.

The sheriff’s office and superior court in North Tahoe have been deemed inadequate for 10 years, according to a recent Placer County Grand Jury report.

“There is inadequate space at the existing Burton Creek facility to house all essential functions,” wrote the jury in a 2005-2006 report. “And many have been dispersed to rented facilities.”

Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner agreed with the jury’s assessment, which has been mirrored by jury reports as far back as 1996.

“The space needs are … a concern,” wrote Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner, in a memo to the grand jury. “A co-ed restroom is shared by all staff. Current staffing levels exceeds maximum occupancy for the room where training and meetings occur. Storage for evidence is outside.”

The structure was built in 1960, and although remodeling has extended its life span, the building is so old it is no longer adequate, Bonner said.

“The building has reached a point where remodeling is futile as there are many inadequacies that cannot be adequately corrected to meet today’s building needs and standards,” wrote Bonner.

Bonner is asking for a central Tahoe Justice Center, which would save taxpayer money from being used to remodel the aging facility that is obsolete and save trips to different stations for bookings, court appearances and administration.

A centralized building with all county services would also serve the public, county officials have noted, since a county resident could deal with their governmental needs in a single vehicle trip.