The Placentia City Council has agreed to move forward with the construction of a multi-million dollar public safety facility at the city yard.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at

Placentia currently leases a 30,000-square-foot space in another part of town where the city’s police department evidence and records are housed. The property was previously flooded by rains and is in poor condition. Additionally, it requires new evidence storage refrigeration units, according to a staff report. Both the estimated lease and energy costs of the current facility range from $177,403 in the fiscal year 2020-21 to $372,000 in the years 2050-51.

City staff worked alongside a finance team to budget and develop several options for a new 16,000-square-foot to 19,000-square-foot city-owned facility primarily serving police department needs, but one that could also fulfill other functions. Staff first presented the alternatives for the new building to the council in October. 

Several council members felt the project would produce savings for Placentia residents in the long run, in addition to providing the public safety department with vital resources. 

Council members on Dec. 1 voted to approve one of the alternatives 4-0. Councilman Chad Wanke was absent. 

Mayor Ward Smith said he recognized the fiscal concerns some council members expressed regarding the approved alternative, but felt the project offered good advantages. 

“Whether you’re in the police department or fire department, don’t pull up short in the beginning of a project,” Smith said. “If you’re building a footprint, take full advantage and make use of every available space that you can.”

According to the staff report, the approved proposal would cost approximately $9.7 million to develop. Among other components, the new building is expected to include the following: 

  • A 7,454 square-foot ground floor and second floor
  • A 4,360 square foot subterranean three-lane shooting range
  • A 911 public safety communications center 

The building will be powered by solar panels and battery storage systems to minimize overall energy costs, as stated in the staff report.

The public safety facility will be financed through issuance of tax-exempt lease revenue bonds, a widely accepted method of funding public projects. The bond payments are expected to be offset significantly through savings from eliminating or reducing the current lease and energy costs, according to the staff report. 

It is estimated that by January, bonds will be sold after consideration and approval from City Council. The city will seek construction bids from February to October. Construction is expected to start in November, according to a city presentation.


Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.