Council approves $3.4 million for land

The Paso Robles City Council unanimously approved the purchase of a lot located at 2930 Union Rd. for $3.425 million on the northeast end of town. The 8.5-acre parcel will be home to Paso’s third fire station as the City moves forward with its emergency services master plan.

At the request of Paso Robles resident Dale Gustin, the Council pulled the purchase from the agenda’s consent calendar to be discussed publicly. Consent items are generally non-controversial determinations that do not require discussion. Instead of addressing items individually, the Council groups them to be voted on to save time. However, citizens and Council members possess the right to request items to be pulled for an open forum discussion.

In repose to City Manager Tom Frutchery asking what concerns Gustin wanted to be addressed, he answered, “You said there’s a report, present it.”

Assistant City Manager Sarah Johnson-Rios said the purchase saves the City $144,000 per year on lease costs and it will be the location of the backup operation center, fire training facility, city corporate yards, a police substation, and Paso’s third fire station. 

“As you recall, City Council adopted a response-time goal in 2001 in the Growth Management Plan required a four-minute response time in 90 percent of all emergency calls,” said Fire Chief Johnathan Stornetta. He told the Council that the department achieves the set goal only 51 percent of the time.

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The two major contributing factors that need to be addressed to improve response times are resources and location. Stornetta told the Council that in 2018 alone the department experienced 747 simultaneous calls when all apparatus are already engaged with an incident. When this occurs, non-Paso units respond at considerable cost to the City and with longer response times.

Stornetta said that EMS departments strive for a three-point coverage for a city of Paso’s size and a well-placed station will cut down on travel times. The current times for the northeastern portion of the city are at six to nine minutes, a far cry from the four-minute goal. The fire department also expects a 51 percent increase in calls for the area based on per capita data an amount that Station 2 is not equipped to handle. 

During the public comment portion, Gustin raised concerns about the original plan of putting a third fire station at the airport instead of next to a proposed hotel. 

Stornetta assured the Council that the fire department is a conscientious neighbor and already co-habitats with the populace without issue. As far as placing the station nearer the airport, he said the location would increase the response times and the proposed site would house aircraft rescue apparatus. The location also meets the time response requirement set by the Federal Aviation
Administration.