December 3, 2018

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While police and fire operations are considered the first responders, public works maintenance operations serve as a critical component of emergency response, particularly for natural disasters. In times of need, maintenance crews are out on the streets keeping utilities running and streets clear. Agencies understand how important corporation yards are to building and servicing infrastructure, as well as maintaining vehicle and equipment assets, yet these important operational facilities often take a back seat to other, more visible public facilities. It’s an operation that, if running smoothly, often lies in the shadows of other civic facilities.
Changing development patterns and population growth, as well as increases in contract services have prompted some agencies to re-evaluate their corp yard facilities to determine if they are adequately serving the current needs of their communities and staff and providing the best use of publicly-owned sites.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Many California corp yard locations date back five or more decades, often hidden in older industrial areas. Sites may include structures reaching the end of their useful life, constrained operations due to population growth, and comingling of employee and fleet parking which can expose agencies to risk management issues. In addition, changing staffing demographics may necessitate modifications to support spaces such as locker rooms, restrooms, and showers.


Other considerations include environmental regulation compliance and review of areas such as wash bays, materials bins, and hazardous materials areas for compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) standards. Regardless of the challenge, opportunities exist to capitalize on dated facilities and increase operational efficiencies by making strategic business decisions.

Potential for Winning Solutions

Older corp yards may be located on sites that can now accommodate higher and better uses. Sale of agency-owned property can bring much-needed revenue to communities and fund a new, more efficient corp yard in a more appropriate location; while a long-term lease can provide bonding capacity for other capital projects.

An outside, independent cursory review can reveal opportunities to bring these critical facilities up-to-date, improve operational efficiencies, reduce risk exposure—and potentially provide the self-supporting fiscal solutions to make it happen.