LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Board of Supervisors today approved plans for a $176 million facility in the San Fernando Valley that will offer health and social services from seven county departments in one place, but postponed decisions on other major capital expenditures.
The planned 212,000-square-foot San Fernando Valley Family Support Center Project will be built on 6.8 acres already owned by the county on Van Nuys Boulevard in Van Nuys.
“We’ve been working on this for 10 years,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Third District, where the center will be located.
The location is currently the site of the Mid-Valley Comprehensive Health Center, Mid-Valley Probation Residential Youth Center, San Fernando Valley Service Center and a shuttered bowling alley. The Mid-Valley Comprehensive Health Center will remain open during and after construction.
The design-build contract for the San Fernando project is expected to be awarded in April.
Though the project was unanimously approved by the board, Supervisor Gloria Molina initially raised concerns about how the county would pay for nearly $1 billion in capital projects scheduled for approval.
“There are many questions that we need to ask before we issue and incur new debt,” Molina said.
The San Fernando Valley project was the smallest of three major capital projects on today’s board agenda. Detailed discussion of the other two–a $420 million plan to upgrade and seismically retrofit facilities at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey and a $367 million proposal for an electronic health record system–was postponed until next week.
At Molina’s recommendation, the board asked the county’s chief executive officer to provide an overview of the county’s strategy for financing pending capital projects, including the total of new bonds that would have to be issued, how that might affect the county’s bond rating and how much the county will need to pay annually in interest and principal.
One major pending project is the construction of county jail facilities.
Sheriff Lee Baca–whose proposal for $1.4 billion in new construction was roundly rejected by the board in October 2011–is working with CEO William Fujioka to develop an acceptable plan.
The county must do something to reduce overcrowding and improve conditions in jails to comply with a federal court ruling. It will also simply run out of space as the population of inmates increases beyond the roughly 22,000 jail beds available countywide.
State prisons now only hold violent, serious and sexual offenders, while California counties must find room for all other prisoners, as well as those awaiting trial who cannot or may not post bail.
The CEO is expected to report back next week on the county’s bond program.