The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today committed to an ambitious five-year plan for capital improvements that will ultimately improve services to residents, provide better working conditions and tools for its staff and save on maintenance and operations costs.

The five-year plan considered at Tuesday’s study session are the most ambitious the County has ever undertaken but, according to County Manager John Maltbie, the County is currently well-positioned to make these investments in the future.

The newly created Project Development Unit laid out seven new projects in its plan but recommended the Board provide approval to move forward in the next two years on four which will cost $224 million:

·         Constructing a new five-story County Office Building #3 (COB3), located across the existing Hall of Justice, to provide 120,968 square feet of space to accommodate staff from other sites;

·         Constructing a new 800- to 1,200-stall Government Center Parking Structure for visitors and staff;

·         Relocating the historic Lathrop House from its 627 Hamilton Avenue location to the lot north of the County History Museum to make way for COB3;

·         Overhauling the Health System campus in the city of San Mateo, including removal of the Health Services Administration building which dates from 1954.

If the County does not build COB3, the 10-year costs for leases of the departments which could move into the new facility are approximately $42 million.

Other projects in the plan include the rebuild of the Cordilleras Mental Health Facility, building a proposed South San Francisco Health Campus and relocating the Radio Shop to Tower Road in San Mateo. The cost of all eight projects, including the four moving forward now, total $361.8 million.

The Board also approved Sheriff’s Carlos Bolanos' proposal for a $35 million renovation of the Old Maguire Jail at 300 Bradford Street in Redwood City. The facility is largely vacant since the completion of the new Maple Street Corrections Center and this remodel will allow the Sheriff’s Office administration team to move there from the Hall of Justice, freeing up 40,000 square feet for other County use.

At the same study session, the Board of Supervisors approved the Parks Department’s request for $12.1 million in new projects over the next five years. These projects include repairing Pescadero Old Haul Road, replacing the Memorial Park Wastewater System and constructing the Wunderlich Park hay barn.

The Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan grew from the County’s 2010 review of its of leased space, aging buildings, public accessibility and navigation, parking, environmental standards and efficiency of employee work spaces for the Facility Master Plan report.

The Board held the study session ahead of its June hearings on the recommended budget for the next two years. Project funding for work recommended in years three through five will be included in future budgets. The funds will come from a variety of sources including General Fund reserves, department reserves, Measure K sales tax revenue, proceeds from the sale of Circle Star Plaza, Proposition 172 revenue (the Public Safety Half-Cent Sales Tax) and the issuance of long-term debt in the form of lease revenue bonds.

The Board was also expected to consider a five-year IT Improvement Plan but time constraints required rescheduling that portion of the study session. Taken together with the capital proposals, the two five-year plans total $631.2 million. However, the figure does not include the full replacement of critical IT systems including two components of the Property Tax System, the Countywide Radio System and the Electronic Health Records System.