Public Safety Building

This letter from the board of the Kensington Property Owners Association was sent on March 8, 2023 to the directors of the Kensington Fire Protection District (KFPD) and the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District (KPPCSD). It is reprinted in its entirety.

Dear Directors of the KFPD and KPPCSD,

In early January we renewed our request that your boards jointly analyze the costs, benefits and operational consequences of locating the Police Department and District administrations in various location options.

We have not seen either Board move this idea forward as an actionable item on your public agendas, other than the KPPCSD removing several locations from consideration for police department locations in Kensington. We understand that two directors from each board have met to discuss the option of locating both departments in the Public Safety Building (PSB), but these meetings have not been held publicly, thereby keeping the community from understanding what is being considered.

The February 15, 2023 KFPD agenda included an item to delay the renovation work on the PSB until June 1, 2023, to allow time to reach a decision with the KPPCSD on possible joint occupancy of the PSB. The item was tabled—but if it is to be considered again, we suggest that first, your Board staffs provide the financial, legal and operational analyses required for informed decision-making. This does not have to take inordinate time. If it is already making substantial progress, please inform the public on the status in written reports in your agenda packets.

We urge the Boards to consider as pursuant to your authorities:

  1. Identify locations for the Police Department that meet essential operational requirements identified by the Chief and consistent with existing KPPCSD programs, requirements and policies. Will promising locations be assessed by architects who have designed police facilities?
  2. Before a vote, it only makes sense that both Districts analyze how the options will affect their budgets, the KFPD leaseback loan, and operations for all possibly workable locations. The leaseback financing agreement obligates the KFPD to complete the project by a certain date, and the financial consequences of a delay could be severe. Is it even possible for the contractor to implement a PSB redesign without triggering a loan payment call? Should not the public see updates on such evaluations?

    The Boards’ goal needs to be what is best for Kensington now and in the future. It is responsible to make sure that the location solution meets that goal. To decide on the best, all reasonable locations have to be compared. The PSB colocation might be assessed as best both operationally and financially. But no one can know that without adequate comparisons. We suggest analysis of at least some other options for locating the police department in or next to Kensington, perhaps on properties owned by the KPPCSD—for example, the non-recreation area on Arlington south of the Kensington library, or perhaps the parking lot. Another possibly viable option you might consider is part of the Unitarian Universalist Church property that temporarily houses the Kensington Fire Department. KPOA is NOT advocating for any of them; what is important is that a comparison of sites is required for the most responsible decision.

    Kensington residents will be deeply affected by choices that may result in more or less effective services, and will ultimately pay for implementation of these critical decisions.

    Rob Firmin, President KPOA, and the Board of Directors