Supervisors authorize radio facility on San Onofre Peak

Motorola will be constructing a regional communications system facility on San Onofre Peak at Camp Pendleton.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Sept. 12 to authorize the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to exercise an option with Motorola Solutions to construct the radio facility. The $683,816 estimated cost of the contract will utilize general fund revenue.

“We are continuing work to replace our regional communications system which includes critical infrastructure like this radio facility on San Onofre Peak,” Supervisor Bill Horn said.

The regional communications system was established in 1995 and allows emergency and public safety agencies to communicate with each other. The county of San Diego and the participating agencies realized that the regional communications system would eventually approach the end of its useful life and require replacement.

In June 2015, the county supervisors authorized the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to issue a request for proposals to replace the existing regional communications system, 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 was awarded the contract in June 2016.

The regional communications system upgrade includes three phases. Phase I was the system design and planning phase, which included detailed technical designs, project planning and the identification of new radio facilities.

Phase II is the implementation of the new technology at existing regional communications system 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 2018-2019.

Phase III includes seven subphases, so each of those subphases may be exercised individually. Motorola and the sheriff’s department worked together to identify potential sites which will provide the required geographic coverage. A radio facility currently operates at the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, which is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018. The decommissioning is expected to result in the removal of the 400-foot-high exhaust stack which currently provides public safety radio coverage to surrounding communities, and multiple coastal sites were identified to ensure continued coverage for those areas.

In November 2016, the board of supervisors exercised a contract option for facility improvements at the Harmony Hill site in southeast Escondido and authorized negotiations, to be ratified by subsequent board action, for the purchase and lease of sites for regional communications system support in seven areas, including one site in Carlsbad, one in Encinitas, one in Solana Beach and one on Camp Pendleton.

The board of supervisors voted 5-0 June 27 to approve a lease agreement with the Department of the Navy for a radio facility on San Onofre Peak. 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 regional communications system facility will utilize a 40-foot by 40-foot area off Skyline Road and 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 five percent annually. The county will also be responsible for all utilities and maintenance expenses.

“I am thankful to Camp Pendleton for being a great partner on this project,” Horn said.

The regional communications system site at Camp Pendleton will include a lattice tower antenna support structure, an equipment shelter, a generator and utility connections. New construction similar to existing land use and complying with existing regulatory requirements when completed is exempt from National Environmental Policy Act review, which is required for projects on federal land, and the board of supervisors’ action Sept. 12 also found the project categorically exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review.

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