Police Chief Lori Luhnow
Paul Wellman

The search is on for the right site to build a new Santa Barbara police station, with four locations at the top of the short list: the Cota Street commuter lot, the Carrillo Street commuter lot, the Louise Lowry Davis Center on De la Vina Street, and the existing station property on Figueroa Street. A subcommittee of councilmembers is actively vetting each site, and a final decision is expected by the end of the year.

Efforts to construct a new police headquarters have dragged on for decades. Multiple councils agreed the building ​— ​outdated, overcrowded, and a seismic-safety mess ​— ​was public enemy #1 in terms of public-service infrastructure. But the money was never there. That changed with the passage of Measure C, the sales tax increase approved by city voters last November, which earmarked $80 million for a new station. Last Tuesday, the council approved $260,000 in architectural and environmental review contracts, with Cearnal Collective chosen as the lead design firm on the project.

Police Chief Lori Luhnow was encouraged by the progress. “This is huge,” she said. Right now, Luhnow explained, a number of department services ​— ​including its emergency dispatch center, animal control staff, Police Activities League (PAL), and property storage facility ​— ​are spread throughout the city. Detectives occupy an annex space behind the station. She’d like to get them all back under one roof. Ideally, Luhnow went on, the new building would have at least 70,000 square feet of work space and feature a public meeting room. Additional parking for her troops and the public is critical, she said. Luhnow was happy to hear Cearnal Collective is working with a public-safety consultant who’s helped construct more than 400 police stations across the country.


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