Supervisors authorize RCS lease on Camp Pendleton

Two San Diego County Board of Supervisors actions June 27 addressed the upgrade of the county’s Regional Communications System (RCS).

One 5-0 vote approved a lease agreement with the Department of the Navy for a radio facility on San Onofre Peak at Camp Pendleton and the other 5-0 vote authorized a contract option to construct a new radio facility in Carlsbad.

“Clear communication is crucial during emergencies,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “The 60-foot antenna, generator and utility connections in Carlsbad, along with the public safety radio site at Camp Pendleton, will help our first responders receive immediate reliable information in a disaster situation.”

The RCS, which allows emergency and public safety agencies to communicate with each other, was established in 1995. The RCS provides public safety and public service radio communications to San Diego County and Imperial County and includes those two county governments, 24 incorporated cities, fire protection districts, state and Federal agencies, tribal governments, and medical operations.

The County of San Diego procured and constructed the RCS and has operated the system while the participating agencies shared the cost of the original system infrastructure. The RCS consists of 50 radio sites in the two counties which support 24 public safety dispatch centers and serve more than 20,000 user radios. The County of San Diego and the participating agencies realized that the RCS would eventually approach the end of its useful life and require replacement.

In 2010, the San Diego County’s Sheriff’s Department contracted with technical consultants to assist with planning the next-generation system. A working group consisting of RCS partner agency executives made recommendations regarding system design and cost apportionment, and county staff members worked with more than 100 public safety agencies and medical operations to develop the requirements for a new system.

In December 2013, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement for participating agencies which established a cost apportionment model and served as the operating and business agreement between the parties.

In June 2015, the county supervisors voted 5-0 to authorize the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to issue a request for proposals to replace the existing RCS, to award a contract upon successful negotiations and determination of a fair and reasonable price, and to amend the contract as required to reflect changes to services and funding allocation subject to the approval of the Sheriff. Motorola Solutions, Inc., was awarded the contract in June 2016.

The RCS upgrade includes three phases. Phase I was the system design and planning phase, which included detailed technical designs, project planning, and identification of new radio facilities. Phase II is the implementation of the new technology at existing RCS facilities consisting of the procurement of the new radio system hardware and software, the replacement of the existing hardware with the new equipment, and the migration of dispatch center equipment and user radios to the new system.

Phase III is the new site development, the construction of facilities, and the integration into the system. The system completion is expected to occur during Fiscal Year 2018-19. The total contract amount of $70,065,207 allows for $56,096,976 to implement Phase I and Phase II, $10,631,793 for Phase III, and $3,336,438 for contingencies.

Phase III includes seven sub phases, so each of those sub phases may be exercised individually. Motorola and the Sheriff’s Department worked together to identify potential sites which will provide the required geographic coverage.

In November 2016, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to exercise a contract option for facility improvements at the Harmony Hill site in southeast Escondido and authorized negotiations – to be ratified by subsequent Board of Supervisors action – for the purchase and lease of sites for RCS support in seven areas, including one on Camp Pendleton and one or two sites in unincorporated Northeast San Diego County.

In addition to the Camp Pendleton and unincorporated Northeast San Diego County sites, the site identification process identified one or two sites in unincorporated Eastern San Diego County, one site in Ramona, one site in the City of Carlsbad, one site in the City of Encinitas, and one site in the City of Solana Beach. The existing RCS radio site locations include the Encina Power Station, which is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018, and the coastal sites will ensure coverage for those areas.

The county and Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest negotiated the terms and conditions of a five-year lease agreement with three five-year extension options for the Camp Pendleton site. The RCS facility will utilize a 40-foot by 40-foot area off of Skyline Road adjacent to the Coast Guard Rescue 21 site, which is within the Coast Guard radio communications compound.

The county will initially pay an annual rent of $12,000, and the rent will increase by 5 percent annually. The county will also be responsible for all utilities and maintenance expenses.

The cost to exercise the sub phase option for the new facility in Carlsbad will be $1,360,341. The county previously negotiated a 20-year lease with the City of Carlsbad to use land on the city’s Ellery Water Reservoir property and the June 27 action initiates the construction of an antenna in the form of a 60 foot tall false tree along with an equipment shelter, a generator, and utility connections.

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