Government Service Agency Security Requirements

Question & Answer


How does this New Mixed-Use Zone relate to Government Service Agency (GSA) security requirements for government facilities? This is a difficult question to deal with, and is an issue that the Planning Department and other stakeholders have been struggling to deal with for several years. The Planning Department understands that federal buildings are being classified by number according to the security classification, with for instance, the setback requirements varying depending upon the following: the number, whether the buildings are in an urban setting, and whether they are existing facilities or new buildings. However, the majority of the security requirements put in place on all new GSA buildings after 9/11 focus on buffering of buildings from the street, target hardening, and other techniques that foster an inhospitable pedestrian environment that is quite at odds with the recommendations of the General Plan and best practices of mixed-use, pedestrian- and transit-oriented developments.

Incompatible


To put it simply, GSA requirements and major government facilities are incompatible with the 2002 General Plan recommendations for the physical design of centers and corridor nodes.

On the other hand, these tenants are very much desired by the county because of the high potential for jobs and associated non-residential development, particularly retail and office development that complements government agency employers, and the General Plan still recommends government employment at centers in particular. This disconnect must be addressed by the policy makers of the county, and decisions will need to be made on how to address GSA security requirements in otherwise compact mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented locations.

As it stands, the code would prohibit most GSA employers from locating in areas that are subject to approved Regulating Plans because of the security requirements, most especially the mandated setbacks of the buildings from the street.