OAKLEY (KPIX) — Fire station 55 is a brand new station in Oakley but the fire department can’t afford to staff it. So the multi-million-dollar building stands vacant.
Oakley resident Steven Vantine lives three blocks away and says he’s frustrated it took fire engines up to 20 minutes to respond to recent fires in the area.
“It’s ludicrous to me,” Vantine told KPIX. “You’ve got a fire station sitting right there (but) they had to call in units from the outlying areas as far away as Concord.”
Vantine lost a house in the Camp Fire two years ago. Now he worries about his current home due to slow response times.
“It’s gotten to the point where my wife and I have considered buying our own fire hose,” Vantine said.
The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District says the city of Oakley is partly to blame for the poor service.
The fire district is accusing the city of failing to fairly fund the department. They say Oakley owes hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been used to hire firefighters and they accuse Oakley of having failed to collect impact fees from residential and commercial developers for years.
They also believe Oakley is under-collecting the impact fees from the Contra Costa Logistics Center, a large business park that includes an Amazon fulfillment center.
“The city of Oakley is asking the rest of the fire district to subsidize development in their city,” said Joe Young with the ECCFPD board of directors.
The fire district sent a 10-page letter to the Oakley city council on Friday, telling them to stop approving new construction projects until they pay up and increase impact fees charged on developers.
“While we’ve been friendly on one side, they apparently have them shorting the district on the other side,” Young said.
Oakley vice mayor Sue Higgins says the city doesn’t owe any money. She says they pay their fair share insisting the city collects the correct amount of impact fees from the Contra Costa Logistics Center.
“I don’t see (a construction approval freeze as) realistic,” vice mayor Higgins said. “Like I said, this is a puzzle to me. Where this is coming from? How it started? It almost is like a ‘he said, she said’ game.”
The Oakley city council will have a closed-session meeting this week to address the letter and come up with a response to the fire district.