Budget limits to determine projects’ feasibility

A long-term plan for San Mateo County government buildings lists an eye-popping $485 million worth of potential facilities projects over the next decade, but officials admit the county’s budget problems will probably keep some from breaking ground.

The facility master plan shows supervisors “what it might look like if we had unlimited resources,” Public Works Director Jim Porter said.

In reality, the county is facing an $82 million budget deficit this year and will have to pick and choose its projects during the next several years, according to officials.

“I think it’s going to have to be prioritized by the various users and by the Public Works Department of what they think is the most important,” Board of Supervisors President Carole Groom said.

The facilities plan — prepared by architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum — offers broad guiding principles in addition to a project list as the county looks to optimize where it puts its 5,600 employees.

The architectural firm found there are too many leased buildings dispersed throughout the Peninsula and recommended consolidating services in county-owned buildings.

Groom said that’s the reasoning behind supervisors’ $40 million purchase in December of 1 Circle Star Way, a 200,008-square-foot office complex in San Carlos that will gradually absorb county employees now in leased buildings.

“Just in general, if you look at the life cycle costs of a building, it’s cheaper to own than lease,” Porter said.

The county currently has 830,618 square feet of office space, or slightly more space than 1½ Transamerica Pyramids, according to the report. The Board of Supervisors’ finance subcommittee, Groom and Adrienne Tissier, approved the broad principles in the architectural firm’s report this week, though Porter emphasized they weren’t signing off on all possible projects.

The most expensive single project on the list is the new jail, which is estimated to cost a combined $173.5 million, including $20.5 million for land.

Other potential projects include a $11.3 million public health lab, a $28 million health services building and $53 million worth of improvements for buildings at the main county center, though none of those have been approved.



Planning for the future

Potential projects in the San Mateo County’s 10-year capital improvement plan:

$173.5M New jail (includes construction, land, design)

$50M Building maintenance

$28M New health services building (80,000 square feet)

$15M Retrofit of County Office Building 2 in Redwood City

$66.5M New hospital support building (130,000 square feet)

Source: San Mateo County



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