Hood River Police – Police Facility Planning
The City of Hood River is actively planning for its future public safety facility needs. Modern facilities support effective policing by providing purpose-built spaces that help officers perform their job. Examples include training rooms where officers can receive the latest training without the need to travel, evidence processing and storage facilities that reduce the time officers are away from patrol, and secure interview rooms with audio and visual recording equipment. The goal is for the facility to be an asset that helps officers perform at their highest level, supporting more availability for calls for service, successful investigations, and overall emergency readiness.
The City of Hood River has no record of its Police department ever occupying a purpose-built facility. Instead department operations have periodically shuffled between sharing space at various government and privately-leased office spaces around the downtown area.
Prior to 2010, the Police Department and Municipal Court occupied both floors of 211 2nd Street where City Hall is now located. The City sold its property at 301 Oak Street in order to consolidate City offices in a remodeled City Hall during the Great Recession.
Police were moved to the daylight basement of the building in 2010. The basement received only minor updates with the understanding that the space would be a temporary home for the department. The location was not feasible as a permanent home due to many shortcomings of the building. The space lacks basic functionalities for modern policing and is unable to provide as is for growth.
There have been several attempts to build a tailored public safety building but none have been successful. In 1996 & 1997, planning activities were completed for several possible sites, including Morrison Park, the State Street Lot, and City Hall location. Consideration was given to co-locating the Police Department with the Fire Department when the Myers Parkway Station bond was floated in 2008, but ultimately only the Fire Station and apparatus replacement was requested of voters.
Below are links to prior City newsletter articles on the Police Facility Project:
Spring, 2019 “City Assesses Police Department Facility”
Fall, 2019 “HRPD Facility study moves to site selection”
The Hood River Police Department has been located in the daylight basement of a 100-year-old Building since 2010. The space includes substandard rooms for basic policing functions and in some cases utilizes rooms for multiple and at times incompatible uses.
Aged Century-old Building
- Converted Fire Bay
- No Back-Up Power
- Masonry Construction
Evidence Processing and Storage
- No Ventilation
- Chain of Custody Challenges
- No Outdoor Evidence Locker (for larger items)
Combines Incompatible Functions
- One Room serves for Interviews, Meetings, Laundry and Breaks
- No Private Interview Room(s)
- No Private Off-duty Quiet Room
- No Break Room
- No Gun-Cleaning Station
Lacking Standard Functions
- No Meeting Room
- No Training Room
- No Locker Rooms
- Adequate Storage (for records/evidence)
- Vehicle Access Issues-Sloped, Uncovered Driveway
The Hood River City Council prioritized planning for a future police facility at its 2018 Goal Setting session and has reaffirmed its commitment each year since. The architectural firm Mackenzie was awarded a contract in 2019 to complete a space needs analysis, site evaluation, and preliminary concept design.
A standard police space needs assessment includes six steps outlined in the graphic below.
A Space Needs Report was developed after workshops and facilities tours to gain understanding of building functions and spatial dimensions. The preliminary space needs report was accepted by the City Council in August, 2019. The space needs report can be found HERE and the PowerPoint presentation to the City Council is HERE.
More recently, potential sites that could accommodate an adequately-sized facility have been analyzed and ranked by consultants and City staff based on industry criteria including access, size/shape of site, costs to acquire and develop, central location, proximity to other government locations, security, land use compatibility, and response times.
Some properties are currently owned by the City, others would need to be acquired, likely raising overall costs and development time. Site evaluations includes pros and cons to each of seven locations. Public Works Yard, City Hall, 3540 Cascade Avenue, State Street Lot, Current Pool Location, Cascade Lot, Columbia Lot – See Evaluations below for more detail.
As part of the process, city staff and council members visited 3 recently constructed police facilities in the Portland/Willamette Valley area. The tour group met with staff of the other departments to learn what worked well and what they would have changed in their new departments. Examples to emulate included labeling electrical outlets connected to emergency power (upper left photo), adding “in use” signage outside of interview rooms to limit noise (upper right photo), and having covered parking for in-use patrol vehicles (upper central photo). Examples to avoid included using unfinished wood for exterior applications (lower left photo) and uneconomical desk heights that require aftermarket add-ons later (lower left photo)
Public Works Yard
Proximity to Fire Station, publicly-owned, central location
Security and access issues, depending on acquiring and reconfiguring county property, environmental remediation
City-owned, close to City Hall, utilizes downtown parking
Attached to 100-year-old building, no secure vehicle access, limited space, expensive construction
3540 West Cascade Ave
Large, level site, close to freeway access. Excess property can be used for other City objectives (ex. recreation and affordable housing)
Privately-owned, access must be from Wine Country requiring an expensive ramp, no off-site parking
State Street Lot
City-owned, close to City Hall
Cannot accommodate a Sally Port, expensive two-story construction over parking lot
Current Pool Location
Publicly-owned, centrally located near Fire Dept.
No timeline for pool relocation and replacement
City-owned and close to City Hall. Compatible zoning on a build-able lot with good utility access
Removes central parking location. Urban Renewal Funds are available to provide an offsetting parking structure at the Columbia Lot
Once a site is approved, City Council will decide whether to seek voter approval of a general obligation bond. The City’s 2008 Fire Station bonds will retire in 2022 creating a natural opportunity to ask voters to extend the City’s bonding authority for the community’s first-ever purpose-built police facility. An analysis by the City’s financial advisory firm, PiperJaffray, calculates that existing bonding authority will generate approximately $12 million if current tax rates are extended for an additional 20 years.
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How will a Police Facility change my property taxes?
This depends largely on the final facility design, selected location, and future construction costs. Any tax backed borrowing for a Police Facility is also dependent on voter approval. However, the existing Fire Station can be used as a “for instance” of possible financial impacts.
In 2008, voters authorized up to $6 million in bonding authority at an estimated cost of $0.98 per $1,000.00 of assessed value (AV) to finance a new fire station and apparatus. Due to faster than anticipated property value growth, the repayment of the Fire Station bonds have only required about $0.70 per $1,000.00 AV in recent years. An example home with a $450,000 real market value and AV of $288,000 for calculation of property taxes has annual tax bill of $201.60, or $16.50 per month, at $0.70 per $1,000.00 AV.
The Fire Station bonds will be fully repaid in 2022. A 2019 financial analysis estimated that if voters authorized the continuation of an existing levy of $0.70 per $1,000 AV for an additional 20-years, it would produce $12 million for a Police Facility. If bonding authority is not extended past 2022 for a police facility then property taxes will decrease.
Isn’t Affordable Housing a more urgent need?
Increasing affordable housing options in Hood River has been a persistent challenge and top tier goal for City Leadership. City efforts to address affordable housing date back to at least the 1990s (Res. 92-07). The most recent efforts are guided by the strategies outlined in the 2015 Housing Needs Analysis, updated in 2019. Strategies include regulating short-term rentals, increasing land use efficiency through code amendments, and developing affordable housing.
Affordable housing and adequate police facilities are not necessarily an “either/or” choice. The City has committed to promoting local affordable housing options. A future question for voters is if the community also wants its first ever purpose-built Police Facility.
Hood River is already a safe city, how will a dedicated Police Facility improve services?
Hood River’s Police Officers will keep residents and visitors safe under any circumstance. The question is whether their facility is an obstacle to overcome or an asset that assists Officers in their duties. The Hood River Police Department has operated in a series of generic office spaces for as long as records exist. Similar to a doctor in a hospital, chef in a kitchen, or teacher in a classroom, policing is a specialized field that benefits from a purpose-built facility. Modern policing facilities support effective policing in some of the following ways:
- Separated and specifically designed victim interview rooms vs. rooms for in-custody interrogations
- Temporary holding cells so officers don’t have to personally control all in-custody suspects
- Automated systems, such as evidence storage lockers that maintain chain of custody without manual processing
- Publicly accessible shared spaces that facilitate community policing
- Secure parking that facilitates safe and quick call responses as well as anonymity for informants or victims
- Audio visual recording capabilities to assist prosecutions
- Modern public safety seismic standards with emergency power for disaster resilience
- Onsite training room for regular skills instruction without the need to travel out of town on duty
For questions or to offer input on Police Facility Planning, contact Will Norris at email@example.com.