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After years of scouting for new space, the Alameda County public defender’s office has moved its branch office from the Allen E. Broussard Justice Center. According to the office, the move will help improve service for clients of the PD’s office. It also gives the department some breathing room — it’s been unclear what the fate of the city-owned Broussard Justice Center will be and how the city will resolve lingering seismic problems there. “We looked for quality space for a long, long time,” said Harold Friedman, the second-in-command in the public defender’s office who helped organize the move. On Aug. 12, the branch office divided its operations, splitting into two locations. The juvenile and investigations division moved to 380 Washington St., and the adult criminal and dependency units moved to 1312 Clay St. Deputy public defenders will meet with clients at the Washington Street location, Friedman said. Friedman declined to say how much the new offices cost or how much space they have. The moving costs were covered by the public defender’s budget, he said. However, he said the new locations are a huge improvement over the two floors the branch office occupied in the Broussard building. Besides being in need of major renovation and more storage, the aging office’s electrical system could not handle all of the office’s computers. There were also safety issues. The old interview room doors were so heavy that no one could hear an attorney if there was an incident with a client, Friedman said. Nothing like that has happened, he added, but the set-up was a concern. It’s unclear what the city’s plans are for the Broussard building, Friedman added. The Broussard courthouse is a city-owned building adjacent to the police department. A tower that houses the air conditioning and some mechanical systems for the courthouse has been deemed seismically unsafe, said Sgt. Robert Stewart, a police official familiar with the issue. The city and police departments have not decided whether they want to renovate the 1960s Broussard building, tear it down and expand the police department, or build a new police headquarters elsewhere in Oakland. The police department has outgrown the building at 455 7th St., Stewart said. The law enforcement agency would ideally like a space with 300,000 square feet. Even if the department — which has 153,000 square feet in its current building — took over the entire Broussard courthouse, it would only gain 62,000 square feet. The city has until 2003 to determine how to spend about $7.5 million of Federal Emergency Management Agency money that could be used to demolish the existing police department or to build a new police station, Stewart said. The City Council is scheduled to begin weighing some of the issues that revolve around the police station and the Broussard building next month, Stewart said.

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