City Council members are considering the $1.5 million purchase of a mobile command unit for Santa Clarita, according to the City Council agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
The vehicle would be a state-of-the-art communications center Santa Clarita officials could use for outreach and resource-sharing during an emergency, or potentially at large public gatherings, according to Tyler Pledger, senior management analyst for the city.
“The city is highly susceptible to hazards such as wildfires, earthquakes and power-outage events, often requiring the city’s emergency response,” according to the council’s agenda. “To enhance the city’s emergency response through increased situational awareness and effective communication with other agencies during emergencies, acquiring a mobile command unit was identified in the city’s five-year strategic plan Santa Clarita 2025.”
Pledger noted Monday the discussion of the command center actually began prior to the recent strategic plan, and that the city’s center would have a number of communication-oriented amenities its older counterparts in the L.A. County Fire and Sheriff’s departments do not, such as exterior monitors and printers for tracking and disseminating information in emergencies.
“I believe if all three agencies were having to deploy the vehicles, our vehicle would kind of subsidize what they are not able to achieve within their own,” Pledger said, “and really add increased awareness through all three agencies and other response agencies that would need to have information readily available.”
Carrie Lujan, city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman since December 2016, said in just the past six or so years, the city has been declared a part of a federal disaster area a number of times, scenarios that would make the city having its own center invaluable for residents.
“And if you think about all the fires and the floods and earthquakes and everything that’s happened … I know I personally spend a lot of time at different command posts for different emergency situations,” Lujan said Monday. “It’s become something that we saw that we needed.”
The council’s agenda notes that such an order, if approved, could take up to two years to fulfill, based on the specifications required. The Santa Clarita C-45X-4 Mobile Command Proposal is being bought through a combination of: the general fund, approximately $1.29 million; miscellaneous grants, including the state’s asset forfeiture fund, approximately $120,000; and a federal grant, for approximately $90,000.
“The vehicle will accommodate a large conference area, seven workstations, teleconferencing, radio communications, press conferences and more,” according to the city’s agenda. “The vehicle is designed to be set up and operational in minimal time. The estimated lead time for fabrication and delivery of the vehicle is 22 to 24 months after purchase.”
Councilman Cameron Smyth looked forward to Tuesday’s discussion, noting such an acquisition would help the city with its response time in an emergency.
“Given the number of incidents that we’ve experienced over the years, whether it be fires, earthquakes or other (emergencies) … obviously, the school incident in Saugus,” Smyth said, referencing the 2019 Saugus High School shooting, “there is a need for a command center, and I think it’s worth exploring the city having one of its own that is ready to go, on standby and can be activated at a moment’s notice.”