FEMA continues to look for a new building in Sacramento, Calif., to move its Region IX headquarters from its current location in Oakland near the Hayward Fault. “Essentially it’s a safety issue,” said John Hamill, FEMA Region IX director of external affairs. “If we’re located in a place where we become victims of [an earthquake], it’s going to hinder our response capacity.”
The agency has been looking for a new facility since December 2009. “We’ve looked at some,” Hamill said. “None of them have quite met all of the requirements.”
Requirements for the location include being outside of an earthquake zone and having reduced flood risk outside of a flood plain.
A decision on a location is expected in the next month or so. Terms of a potential lease were not immediately available.
The agency is looking for an existing building with 86,500 usable square feet that can be retrofit to meet its needs. Each of the agency’s directorates will be located in the building. The new site is expected to be large enough to accommodate future expansion, including possible co-location of Incident Management Assistance Teams or other U.S. Department of Homeland Security components.
The current regional headquarters occupies two floors of a commercial office building with some staff located in a federal building a block and half away. Hamill said the new building will have only federal tenants, which he expects will have benefits for building security and program coordination.
The move is expected to take place in April 2012, a date Hamill said the agency is on track to meet.
According to Hamill, 80 percent of the population of FEMA Region IX resides in California. The region encompasses 386,000 square miles including the states of Arizona, California, Nevada and Hawaii, as well as American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. Common disasters include hurricanes, typhoons, flooding, landslides, earthquakes and wildfires, according to the regional office’s website.