The federal government has been planning to move the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Rio Rico office due to its proximity to a school, but local officials are saying that they don’t have a problem with the building’s current location.
Earlier this year, the government told the owners of the current DEA building – Oklahoma-based Gardner Tanenbaum Holdings – that they were ineligible to bid for a renewed lease because the site is too close to Calabasas School.
After a lobbyist for the company reached out to the school board and county authorities, some are saying that the DEA’s proximity to the school isn’t a problem.
But it’s unclear whether their words will have much effect.
The governing board of the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District signed a letter to Douglas Coleman, the DEA’s lead agent in the Phoenix region, stating that they haven’t had any problems related to the office.
The DEA moved into the office in 2000 and Calabasas School was built in 2004.
The school board’s letter was drafted by Bill Broydrick, a lobbyist for Gardner Tanenbaum Holdings.
Sheriff Antonio Estrada went further in a separate letter to Coleman, stating that he hoped DEA would “reconsider its position” to not let the current building’s owner make an offer to renew the lease.
“We view (the DEA’s) presence in Santa Cruz County as a law enforcement asset,” the sheriff wrote.
Ultimately, the decision is out of local hands.
The DEA office is leased by the General Services Association (GSA), which manages property for other government agencies.
GSA spokesman Andra Higgs previously told the NI that DEA offices cannot be located within 1,000 feet from several kinds of facilities, including schools, parks and residential housing.
In a September email, Higgs did not respond to a question about whether the GSA ever made exceptions to that rule.