In this web post, we assess and make recommendations regarding the Governor's proposal for California Highway Patrol office replacements.

LAO Contact

Shawn Martin

Publications with Related Content
Budget and Policy Post
February 9, 2017

The 2017-18 Budget

California Highway Patrol


The primary mission of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is to ensure safety and enforce traffic laws on state highways and county roads in unincorporated areas. The CHP also promotes traffic safety by inspecting commercial vehicles, as well as inspecting and certifying school buses, ambulances, and other specialized vehicles. The CHP carries out a variety of other mandated tasks related to law enforcement, including investigating vehicular theft and providing backup to local law enforcement in criminal matters. The operations of the CHP are divided across eight geographic divisions throughout the state.

The Governor’s budget proposes total expenditures of $2.5 billion in 2017‑18, which is about 4 percent more than the level provided in the current year. Over 95 percent of all CHP expenditures are supported from the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA), which generates its revenues primarily from vehicle registration and driver license fees. The level of spending proposed for CHP for 2017‑18 supports about 10,750 positions of which about 7,500 are uniformed officers.

Area Office Replacement

LAO Bottom Line. We recommend the Legislature consider the Governor’s proposed CHP area office replacement projects in the larger context of an MVA fund that will likely be in danger of running a shortfall over the next several years. For example, the Legislature may want to consider deferring one or more of the four projects in the design-build phase.

Background

Plan to Replace CHP Offices Initiated in 2013‑14. The CHP operates 103 area offices across the state, which usually include a main office building for CHP staff, CHP vehicle parking and service areas, and a dispatch center. Beginning in 2013‑14, the administration initiated a plan to replace a few CHP field offices each year for the next several years. The Legislature has approved funding in accordance with this plan each year since 2013‑14. Specifically, the 2013‑14 budget included $1.5 million for advanced planning and site selection to replace up to five unspecified CHP area offices. Based on the results of this advanced planning, the 2014‑15 budget provided (1) $32.4 million to fund the acquisition and preliminary plans for five new CHP area offices in Crescent City, Quincy, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Truckee; and (2) $1.7 million for advanced planning and site selection to replace up to five additional unspecified CHP are offices. The 2015‑16 budget provided $136 million to fund the design and construction of the area offices in Crescent City, Quincy, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Truckee, as well as $1 million for advanced planning and site selection to replace five additional unspecified area offices. The 2016‑17 budget provided about $30 million for the acquisition and preliminary plans for the area offices in El Centro, Hayward, San Bernardino, and Ventura and $800,000 for advanced planning and site selection.

Vehicle Registration Fee Increase Intended to Stabilize MVA. As part of the Governor’s 2016‑17 budget proposal, the administration estimated a MVA shortfall of about $310 million in 2016‑17 (assuming no new revenue or expenditures), with this amount increasing in future years. If left unaddressed, the ongoing shortfalls would result in the MVA becoming insolvent in 2017‑18. In response, the 2016‑17 budget package includes trailer legislation (1) increasing the base vehicle registration fee by $10 (from $46 to $56) beginning April 1, 2017 and (2) indexing the fee to automatically increase with inflation. In addition to CHP, the MVA also provides funding to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Air Resources Board.

Governor’s Proposal

Acquisition, Construction, and Lease Arrangements for New CHP Area Offices. The Governor’s budget provides about $144 million from the MVA to fund site acquisition for new CHP offices in Humboldt and Quincy, and to construct new offices in El Centro, Hayward, Ventura, and San Bernardino. Specifically the budget includes:

  • $2.5 million to fund the acquisition and performance criteria phases of the Humboldt area office replacement. The proposed facility would be 33,893 square feet (28,332 square feet of office space and a 5,561 square foot auto shop), or roughly seven times the size of the existing 4,648 office that opened in 1967. The CHP proposes to use the design-build procurement method and award a contract in 2018‑19 at an estimated cost of $34.3 million—for a total project cost of $36.8 million.

  • $2.1 million to fund the acquisition and performance criteria phases of the Quincy area office replacement. The proposed facility would be 24,538 square feet (19,184 square feet of office space and a 5,354 square foot auto shop), or roughly six times the size of the existing 4,006 office that opened in 1967. The CHP proposes to use the design-build procurement method and award a contract in 2018‑19 at an estimated cost of $31.9 million—for a total project cost of $34.1 million

  • $30.4 million to fund the design-build phase of the El Centro area office replacement. The proposed facility would be 34,018 square feet, or about seven times the size of the existing 4,575 square foot facility that was built in about 1966. The total estimated cost to replace this office is estimated at $34.7 million (includes $4.3 million for acquisition and planning provided in the 2016‑17 budget).

  • $38.1 million to fund the design-build phase of the Hayward area office replacement. The proposed facility would be 43,518 square feet, or about four times the size of the existing 11,033 square foot facility that was built in 1971. The total estimated cost to replace this office is estimated at $53.1 million (includes $15 million for acquisition and planning provided in the 2016‑17 budget).

  • $37.1 million to fund the design-build phase of the Ventura area office replacement. The proposed facility would be 40,534 square feet, over three times the size of the existing 12,469 square foot facility that was built in 1976. The total estimated cost to replace this office is estimated at $44.3 million (includes $7.3 million for acquisition and planning provided in the 2016‑17 budget).

  • $33.2 million to fund the design-build phase of the San Bernardino area office replacement. The proposed facility would be 43,552 square feet, or about three-to-four times the size of the existing 12,253 square foot facility that was built in about 1973. The total estimated cost to replace this office is estimated at $38.5 million (includes $5.4 million for acquisition and planning provided in the 2016‑17 budget).

Advanced Planning and Site Selection. The budget also includes $800,000 from the MVA to identify suitable parcels for replacing up to three additional field offices and provisional language to allow augmentations of up to $2 million for the purpose of entering into purchase options.

Provisional Language. In addition, the budget includes provisional language to allow the CHP, in cooperation with the Department of General Services and the Department of Finance, to enter into a build-to-suit, lease/purchase, or a lease with an option to purchase agreement to provide for a new Santa Ana area office. The existing 7,983 square foot facility was constructed in 1968. CHP would incur estimated lease costs beginning in 2020‑21 of $9.2 million and decreasing to $7.2 million in 2021‑22.

Five-Year Plan for Replacement of CHP Offices. The administration’s recent Five-Year Infrastructure Plan—which proposes state spending on infrastructure projects in all areas of state government through 2021‑22—includes ongoing projections of the CHP’s area office replacement needs. Specifically the plan proposes a total of $497 million over the next five years. Figure 1 summarizes the plan to spend $264.3 million for the study, acquisition, performance criteria, and design-build phases and lease costs at specified locations. Another $233 million is projected to be spent on yet-to-be-identified office replacement projects. Under the plan, $144.2 million is proposed in 2017‑18, dropping by $69.7 million (about 48 percent) in 2018‑19 to $74.5 million. Thereafter, funding remains relatively steady, ranging between $80 million and $102 million annually.

Figure 1

California Highway Patrol Five-Year Office Replacement Plan

(In Thousands)

2017‑18

2018‑19

2019‑20

2020‑21

2021‑22

Total Project Cost

Statewide—area office replacement program

$5,000V

$48,000V

$86,000V

$94,000V

$233,000

Statewide—site identification and planning

$800S

800S

800S

800S

800S

4,000

El Centro—area office replacement

30,413B

30,413

Hayward—area office replacement

38,103B

38,103

Ventura—area office replacement

37,075B

37,075

San Bernardino—area office replacement

33,154B

33,154

Humboldt—area office replacement

2,505AD

34,292B

36,797

Santa Ana—area office replacement—lease

9,213L

7,188L

16,401

Gold Run—area office replacement

2,513AD

31,758B

34,271

Quincy—area office replacement

2,140AD

31,925B

34,065

Totals

$144,190

$74,530

$80,558

$96,013

$101,988

$497,279

Note: Figure excludes capital outlay proposals unrelated to office replacement such as (1) Keller Peak Tower Replacement ($223,000 in 2017-18; $279,000 in 2018-19; and $1.8 million in 2019-20), and (2) Enhanced Radio System Phase 1 ($5.3 million in 2018-19 and $7.2 million in 2019-20).

Phases: A = acquisition; B = design-build; D = performance criteria; L = lease; S = study; and V = various.

LAO Assessment

We recognize that many of CHP’s existing area offices have deficiencies that merit their replacement in the near future. However, we note that the Governor’s proposal to replace additional CHP offices—as well as other proposals to increase MVA expenditures—would impact the condition of the MVA. As indicated earlier, the Legislature increased the vehicle registration fee as part of the 2016‑17 budget package to prevent the MVA from becoming insolvent. The Department of Finance’s five-year projections (2017‑18 through 2021‑22) estimate there will be sufficient funding available in the MVA to pay for projected expenditures, including the CHP area office replacement. However, over the next few years, the MVA would be barely balanced and likely face a modest operational shortfall in certain years.

LAO Recommendation

In view of the above, we recommend that the Legislature consider the proposed CHP area office replacement projects in the context of the MVA fund condition and its other MVA expenditure priorities. As such, the Legislature may want to consider deferring one or more of the projects proposed for funding in 2017‑18. The Legislature may also want to consider reducing the proposed funding for advanced planning and site selection as a way to limit the number of additional replacement projects (and the associated costs to complete the projects) that are allowed to proceed.