Lease of old Cardiff fire station OK’d

A company that transports military veterans will soon set up shop in the vacant Cardiff fire station.

The Encinitas City Council on March 23 unanimously approved a three-year lease with G.J. Trippe, a non-emergency service that shuttles veterans to Southern California medical facilities.

The fire station has been vacant since 2013, when Fire Station No. 2 opened on a nearby lot. In 2014, the council invited lease or purchase offers for the site, which is in a residential area by the Encinitas Community Park.

Councilmembers last August favored renting the site over selling, saying the city may need property down the line. The council then settled on G.J. Trippe as the best option.

The property will be used as an administrative office and call center, and it will have beds so that on-shift ambulance crews can sleep during down time. Joyce Trippe, who runs the Carlsbad-based company with her husband, told the council last August the business would fit in with the neighborhood. She said the non-emergency ambulances wouldn’t “run out of there in the middle of the night with lights and sirens.”

Under the zoning, the couple and ambulance crews won’t be able to live there, according to a city staff report. The property’s current public/semi-public zoning limited the pool of potential renters.

G.J. Trippe will invest $40,000 toward the property, with most of the improvements happening in April. In May, the company will begin paying $2,300 a month in rent, generating $82,800 in city income during the three-year lease term.

So far, the city has spent $12,300 on abating asbestos and $5,000 on plumbing at the site. That money came from the Fire Station No. 2 capital improvement program, which the lease revenue will replenish.

Also, $15,300 from the city’s general fund went toward cleaning out the building and mitigating water damage to a bunkroom wall.

The lease was on the consent calendar, which is reserved for routine items of business.

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