County makes move to locate HHSA offices in Escondido

County makes move to locate HHSA offices in Escondido
A rendering shows what the new Health and Human Services Agency offices will look like. The offices will replace a former Albertson’s grocery store in Escondido. Image Courtesy of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors

ESCONDIDO — San Diego County is working towards relocating multiple Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) offices to replace a former Albertson’s building in Escondido. But, the city’s mayor hopes the county will select another property.

Currently, the county’s HHSA satellite offices are located at three different buildings in Escondido that are between 61 and 47 years old. The offices provide services for veterans, children, and seniors, and have been deemed by the county to be too small to carry out present operations.

On May 20, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a 10-year lease of the vacant grocery store property at 649 W. Mission Avenue once the building is converted into business offices.

The new space will consolidate all of HHSA’s health and social services in one location and is close to public transportation, including the Escondido Transit Center.

Supervisor Dave Roberts praised the project for uniting services in one location, providing over 400 jobs, and putting a building that has been vacant for about 8 years to use.

“I believe this project is good for the city of Escondido,” he said at the May 20 meeting.

The Board of Supervisors approved the agreement despite Escondido Mayor Sam Abed’s objection to the project’s location.

Though he did not attend the county meeting, Abed submitted a letter to the Board of Supervisors on May 5 to voice his opposition.

The vacant grocery property is targeted for the future Crossroads Business Park, according to the letter. A national technology company is considering Escondido for a new one million square-feet research and development facility, which could potentially be located on the old Albertsons site.

“Your relocation to this area may hamper our ability to redevelop this area as we have planned,” Abed stated in the letter. “I strongly encourage you to discontinue your plans to relocate to this site.”

Abed could not be reached for further comment.

The Board of Supervisors did not acknowledge his opposition at the meeting.

Escondido Councilmember Olga Diaz, who is running against Abed for mayor this November, attended the county meeting in support of the HHSA project, but did not speak.

MDA Mission Ave One, LLC is in the process of purchasing the former Albertsons property.

The county will pay $185,250 per month for 105,000 square-feet of office space and the lease is expected to start in April 2015.

 

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