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False alarm, folks 

San Luis Obispo County is officially fed up with false alarms at the Government Center in San Luis Obispo—so much so that officials have decided to set aside $513,000 to fix or replace the existing alarm system.

General Services Deputy Director Katie Perez called the false alarms “annoying” and “expensive.” To be precise, the county is estimating each false alarm during business hours costs at least $12,600 per hour in lost staff time. Multiply that by 13 false alarms, and the county claims it’s lost $163,800 since moving into the matte gray Government Center seven years ago.

And it’s just one problem with the new digs.

The county filed a lawsuit against Kajima Construction Services in April 2009, claiming the company and other subcontractors tasked with the job didn’t properly construct or inspect the building. Kajima has since filed a cross complaint against its subcontractors over defects with the Government Center, the biggest of which is improperly installed drywall, according to the county’s lawsuit.

The case has gone through mediation and is scheduled for an April 13 case management conference, according to court documents.

Glenn Barger, an attorney for Kajima, said he couldn’t comment while the matter is in litigation, but told New Times, “We do not believe that the system needs to be replaced.”

However, Perez said the county hopes to quickly stem its false-alarm problem. But doing so wouldn’t come cheap. The first step is a $45,000 sole-sourced contract with Collings & Associates, based in Ventura, to prepare a plan to either repair or replace the existing system. According to a county staff report, the county expects the entire project would run $513,000, including engineering services and construction costs, depending on the final bid amounts.

Perez said the contract was sole-sourced to Collings & Associates in order to get the job going quickly. Such contracts are often put out to bid, but Perez said that process would have taken too much time to complete.

“It got to the point where we’d just had enough,” she said.

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