Union Tribune

November 14, 2003

U.S. giving $10 million to region for security
$800,000 added for Coaster trains


By TOBY ECKERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON The San Diego region will get $10.5 million in federal security money under an initiative designed to protect the nation's largest urban areas from terrorist attacks, the Homeland Security Department announced yesterday.

An additional $800,000 was earmarked for security upgrades on the San Diego Coaster transit system.

The larger grant will be shared by the city and county based on a regional security assessment and strategic plan. The region has identified slightly less than $1 billion in security needs, said D.P. Lee, San Diego's homeland security director.

"We're still working on paring that down. I can't say that anything on that list truly isn't a need," Lee said.

Lee's list includes protective gear and clothing for law enforcement agencies and money for training, planning and exercises.

Officials in San Diego and other cities have complained that the federal government hasn't provided enough funding to cover local security needs that have arisen since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The money for the San Diego area is part of $675 million in grants for major urban areas nationwide. San Diego received $11.4 million through an earlier round of grants under the program.

The grants, which are funneled through state governments, are based on a formula that takes account of population density, intelligence on terrorist threats and the concentration of potential targets in a region.

Eighty percent of the money is earmarked for the cities and counties; the state can use the rest for security enhancements within the region.

Several other California urban areas were awarded grants: Los Angeles, $28.3 million; San Francisco, $26.5 million; Santa Ana, $15 million; Long Beach, $12 million; Anaheim, $10.3 million; San Jose, $10 million; Sacramento, $8 million; and Fresno, $7 million.

Separately, the Homeland Security Department announced $50 million in grants for mass transit agencies.

The North County Transit District will use the $800,000 earmarked for the Coaster to upgrade closed-circuit television monitoring at stations, said security director Brian Graham.

The district had sought $2 million.

"I think it will get us probably about halfway there," Graham said of the federal funding.

The transit security grants were based on a system's annual ridership and overall track mileage.

Copyright 2003 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.