Police Substation a Sign of the Times

Voters approved Measure O in 2002 to bolster public safety throughout San Jose, and the city started issuing $159 million in bonds, with much of the money intended for constructing the substation. Nearly 10 years later, those ambitious days seem like a distant memory.

The 107,000-square-foot facility—officially completed at the end of 2010 at a cost of $90.8 million—is currently one of five publicly funded buildings in the last 15 months that have yet to open or were closed the same day they were completed.

A decade of budget shortfalls has left the city with no option but to keep the substation shuttered along with the Bascom Library and Community Center ($28.4 million), Calabazas Library ($7.4 million), Educational Park Library ($10.7 million) and Seven Trees Library. (Seven Trees did open the community center portion of the building; the total cost of the project was $34 million.)

Leaving aside Seven Trees, the city has spent more than $137 million on four public facilities that deliver no public services.

Leading the processional through the substation are Police Chief Chris Moore and David Printy, a senior architect for the Public Works Department, which maintains control of the substation for now. The tour starts with a look at a piece of artwork in the entryway that features a grid of San Jose.

“An array of LED lights ties to an infrared camera,” Moore says. “As you walk through the site, [the artwork] takes an infrared image of you and any moving object. It’s a little more impressive at night.”

For now, like the facility itself, the artwork remains dormant. Even an environmentally friendly living roof layered atop the building seems to lack life. Seen from the vast, cubicled offices and meeting areas throughout the second and third floors, weeds have overtaken the overhangs. Conference rooms to discuss crime fighting strategies have chairs but no bodies. Sophisticated scramble pads to unlock doors of holding cells go untouched. Not a single cruiser parks in the expansive subterranean garage.

San Jose is the largest city in the nation without an operational police substation, and no one seems to know when that will change, as police officers could face layoffs for the second straight year. It would cost almost $4 million a year to operate and staff the building, according to the police chief.

“Everybody wants it open,” Moore says. “The reality of the budget is it won’t be in fiscal 2012–13. But 2013–14? We’re hoping.”
San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra, whose district includes the substation, has similar hopes but admits that might be wishful thinking.

“It’s highly unlikely we’re going to see the police substation any time soon,” he says, “because if I have to vote for opening a substation or having patrol officers, just like anyone on the council, I’m going to choose patrol officers.”

Click Here to Read More on San Jose’s Police Substation.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. There’s a great opportunity to ask Chief Moore about the new substation and lots of other public safety related issues Thursday, January 12th at 6:30 at the Santa Clara Valley Labor Center. Bring your good questions!

  2. “For now, like the facility itself, the artwork remains dormant. Even an environmentally friendly living roof layered atop the building seems to lack life.”

    And this is a police substation we’re talking about?

    Exhibit 1,232,832 of how the city wastes/spindles/folds/mutilates/craps on it’s citizens hard earned tax dollars.

    Starve the beast.  Shop in Campbell.  Shop online.

    • “It’s a little more impressive at night.” Moore says.

      So the art only cost us a million dollars and you really need to be their at night to get the full effect.  ie.  It really dazzles the perps and the folks working the night shift. 

      Is it too late to fire everyone associated with the art?  Can this be put on the ballot?

      Can we jackhammer city hall into a pile of rubble just to make a statement that we (taxpayers) don’t appreciate the capriciousness with which this city wastes our money.

      Starve the beast.

      • Novice,

        Starve the beast rings true with San Jose.  I just returned from Morgan Hill where I did the weekly grocery shopping.  My sales tax went to a very efficient municipality.  If you have some time, drive out there and look around… good roads, bustling downtown, everything in tip-top shape.  Were I not anchored to SJ because of a reasonably low basis for property tax assessment, I’d likely move to MH.

  3. Are we still subsidizing the Hayes Mansion at $4 million per year as Pierlugi wrote about on SJI over a year ago?

    What would it take for Mr. Kalra to actually create a plan that prioritizes city services so we can open the police substation this year? 

    How can anybody in city hall defend spending so much money on a luxury hotel and restaurant when our police department is in such a dire condition?

    • There is no defending it . the plain and simple truth is Mr Burns is out to break all city workers and unions , at all costs. By now most people who can read or use a computer , realize that the Citys problems are NOT because of Pensions. It is because of extremely poor leadership , too many yes men(constant, Plo,M.Ngyuen,liccardo) and a worthless city manager. This corrupt politicians are gambeling with our lives . there are no where near enough police officers/Firefighters for a city city this size.These people would have you think , that they are trying their very best to find solutions but the truth is they are only interested in lining their pockets and the Developers pockets. nothing else matters. when something( god forbid) happens this city and its residents will realize how poorly prepared for an emergency we truely are

    • “the plain and simple truth is Mr Burns is out to break all city workers and unions , at all costs.”

      This is a good thing.  Public employee unions are killing this city, this state, and this country and need to be broken at every level.  Look to Italy, Greece, etc to see how public employee unions going unchecked works out.

      The second thing that needs to happen is to somehow instill a culture of frugality into SJ city hall.

      City hall should be sold and all city workers should be relocated to one of the many squat office parks normal tax paying slobs inhabit.  That would be a good start towards a much needed attitude adjustment at city hall.

      City owned golf courses and golf nets.  Hayes mansion.  Affordable housing.  Living wage.  “Green” BS.  The taxpayer beatdown is relentless.

      Breaking the unions is a much needed step. 

      But why aren’t we hearing anything or any sense of urgency from city hall that even hints at frugality, common sense, and cutting spending on all this other non-essential crap.

      • Novice

        Its Obvious that you are as ant-labor as one can get . Maybe if you studied U.S. History you would realize That Unions help build this great country. I’m not saying reform isnt needed , it absolutely is and no oe not even unions are denying that. It just needs to be done legally ( not like Reeds ILLEGAL BALLOT MESURE, That will end up costing millions & millions of dollars in court only to lose.) vested rights can not be touched. Heres a novel idea , why not try to get Reed and the city to attempt to “negotiate in good faith” Otherwise San Jose Residents will end up the true losers.

  4. Every time you go by a closed library, community center fire station or new empty police station ask yourself –  4 questions:

    – Do you know what do my very high taxes pay for ?  -No, why not ?

    – Where did my taxes go ?  – Not sure, but definitely not for what I thought I was paying taxes for

    – Why doesn’t city have a list of where our taxes were spent ?  – Voters can’t get upset about tax giveaways if they don’t know who gets our taxes

    – Who got my taxes ?  – Someone’s buddy,  not city departments that were supposed to provide city services with our taxes

  5. And I will say it again.  Move the PD to the sub-station.  The PD has shrunk down to the point where the sub-station would probably house most of the department.  It is a modern building with all the bells and whistles for law enforcement.  The current PD campus is outdated and in dire need of upgrades.  Close that building and move them all.  Then use the existing PD building for other city departments, sell it, or lease it out to the county.

  6. Josh,

    thanks for keeping this issue in the pubic discussion.  What a waste for our money to have so many new public buildings closed and the put all the blame on pensions.  Nice grand standing by the major and council with only talk about cutting their pensions in todays Mercury news.  Never happen!  But it looks good in the paper as they move forward with their plans to put pension reform on the June ballot so it can make it’s way to the CA Supreme Court.  With all that wasted attorney money they could open a few of the ghost buildings.

    What court jester comes up with this stuff for Chuckie?

  7. Chief Moore really, (chief’s adjutant)!!!  Have your PIO drive you around.  Your taking one more officer off the streets to satisfy your ego.  Just because Davis did it does not mean you have too.  You have a drivers license, you get a free car and gas that you take home every day.  You carry a gun, at least I hope you do.  I do hope you are still a police officer at heart,  when was the last time you went to the police range to qualify with your duty weapon, you still do have one right?

    If you need another body in your office to answer calls hire a civilian, heck get a chauffeur still a heck of a lot cheaper!  We don’t need someone making 100K at your beckon call!

  8. Chief’s adjutant? You mean chief brown-noser. Everyone of them so far have used this worthless position to further their career in command rather than furthering their career doing actual police work. Started by that fool Chief Davis and carried on by the equally foolish Moore. Officers have to sacrifice but the command staff remains bloated and ineffectual. Much like this white elephant of a substation. $1,000,000 in public art? As useful as a Chiefs adjutant.

  9. Sell it I say! use the money to hire/rehire more Police Officers. If they do not sell, move City employees in there, the ones from ESD and/or DOT that still work in trailers for the last decade!

    I bet it would make a great location for a Quiznos.

    • Mayor Reed has a stock answer for suggestions that the City should sell this building or that building. He busts it out with a Chuck(le) and his delivery is meant to (1) convey that he has already explored the option (2) he is several moves ahead of you in the game called “how to run San Jose, and (3) Even though YOU might be able to balance your check book and run YOUR affairs in a reasonable and fiscally respponsible manner YOU and Reed are not in the same league.

      So in by best Mayor Reed (hey our names are similar)impression I’ll do my best to answer your suggestion that the CIty sell the sub-station:

      (Chuckle, chuckle chuckle) I’m glad that you see an opportunity there and I want you to know that I have looked into doing just that.  I have a couple of questions for you – Do you have any idea what the real estate market is right now?  (Chuckle, chuckle chuckle). That’s right, its not very good.

      Does anyone know what the market looks like for a building specifically designed to be a police station is?  (Chuckle, chuckle chuckle)

      Ya, so if you know of anyone or know of any police departments looking to buy a police station please send them my way! (Chuckle, chuckle chuckle) In other words who would buy it? Nobody, that’s who.
      (Chuckle, chuckle chuckle)

      Mayor Reed made a statement very similar to this when asked why he wasn’t trying to sell the OLD City Hall on Mission@ 1st.  About 2 months after I heard this from his mouth he GAVE the land and buildings away to the County as down payment on a debt HIS RDA incurred by settling a lawsuit that followed a contract HIS RDA broke with the county.

      Maybe Reed is considering giving the sub-station away so that a Quiznos can be put in.

  10. Do not forget when Reed closed an Fire Engine on Cottle road only to open 7 Tress Community Center a few months later in the same District 2! Do you think us citizens don’t know this? I haven’t forgot it! I am sure Reed says Public Safety is Number 1. Guess what you (Reed) are a liar!

  11. Chief’s Adjutant?! Really Chief? Another foolish and tone deaf move. Will you ever wake up?

    At least we understand WHY she was made his driver, errrr, I mean Adjutant.

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