DA Staff Living in Office Limbo

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A host of Orange County district attorney prosecutors, investigators and support staff have been in office limbo for months after having had to abandon their eighth and ninth floor offices on Broadway in downtown Santa Ana because of a faulty elevator.

And it looks as if they may be there for a while.

County supervisors have repeatedly delayed approval of a new office lease on temporary DA headquarters since last year. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas came to the board last week hoping to get a deal.

Instead, he got more delays.

Supervisor Bill Campbell is concerned about the length of a proposed lease agreement for 10,864 square feet of office space at 801 Civic Center Drive West at a monthly rent of $17,382.

Yet Campbell wants an early-out clause, given that county staff is working to find a better and cheaper fit near the Civic Center.

CEO Tom Mauk said last week he would explore such a clause but didn’t hold out much hope. “I’m not sure we can achieve, it but we’ll look,” he told Campbell, adding that “we’ve held it up for three months, pending discussion about alternate space.”

The county’s real estate staff suggests a 10-year lease that can be broken after three years with potential penalties of $218,000 for early termination. Mauk said he would try to negotiate a month-to-month option.

“The landlord should understand the reasoning behind that,” he said.

Campbell ultimately won a two-week delay. Rackauckas is hoping he gets a vote next month.

“We started deferring this well over a year ago, that’s my concern,” he told supervisors last week. “It’s been this long, a couple more weeks isn’t disconcerting.”

Campbell promised Rackauckas a vote next meeting. Yet he also warned it might not be a yes.

— NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

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