The Watsonville City Council voted 6-1 to approve a fire station in a private home at 425 E. Lake Ave. for a trial period of one year Tuesday.
According to Fire Chief Pablo Barreto, the house was chosen because it provides a four-minute response time to a broad swath of east Watsonville, an area described as underserved and vulnerable.
Despite approving the substation, the City Council cited significant safety concerns at the site, including pedestrian traffic, school zones and a blind curve.
It also expressed concern that interim city manager Marcela Tavantzis had signed a one-year lease on the property without the City Council’s input.
Fire Chief Barreto said he asked Tavantzis to sign the lease because the site was the best location for the substation, an effective use of Measure G funds and not a threat to public safety.
Tavantzis added that an extremely tight rental market prompted the decision to secure the property for the city.
City Councilman Jimmy Dutra was the lone vote against the substation, citing a lack of transparency in the decision-making process.
“The transparency really does bother me, but we really do need a fire station on the east side,” said Mayor Nancy Bilicich.
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