EDITOR’S NOTE: My Sunday column for the LA Times community newspapers in the Tri-City area.
What’s the next Verdugo Dispatch?
call it the “popular tri-city area,” a region that proudly boasts its own
“tri-city airport” and fundamentally healthy economies. The FBI likes the
moniker so much it dubbed a robber who hit 10 banks in Burbank, Glendale and
Pasadena this summer the “Tri-Cities Bandit.”
In these tough economic times with no end in sight, government officials of the
three cities, which have a combined population of nearly 450,000 — big enough
to make it California’s 8th largest city, ahead of Oakland — are scrambling to
find ways to cooperate, consolidate and collaborate to reduce costs while
preserving, or even improving, the quality of the services they provide to the
and better is a tough formula to beat at a time when cities like Los Angeles
and many smaller towns in the eastern San Gabriel Valley are laying off
workers, slashing services and sharply raising fees, rates and fines.
The standard they are seeking, as Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird puts it,
is, “What’s our next Verdugo Dispatch going to be?”
Verdugo Dispatch, located in Glendale’s Fire Station 21, was conceived in the
1970s and built in the 1980s to handle fire suppression and medical emergency
calls for Glendale and Burbank, and then Pasadena. Now it serves a dozen cities
to the east in the San Gabriel Valley.
The result is that each of the cities has cut the cost of dispatch services
roughly in half and the technology available is far superior to what even the
richest of them would be able to afford.
It also created a spirit of “dropping the borders” that seemed impossible
during years of conflict and rivalry spawned by the takeover of the old
Lockheed Airport by Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena
“If you look at Verdugo Dispatch, you see better integrated coordination
between the Tri-Cities and the San Gabriel Valley cities that not only
generates cost efficiency, but we’re getting a better service,” Pasadena City
Manager Michael Beck said.
“I don’t see the economy roaring back before 2015. Everybody in government
needs to be looking at how we can be more efficient in delivering services, so
we’re looking for opportunities through cooperation with other cities.”