After years of recurring mold issues and attempts to save Fire Station 9, the Long Beach Planning Commission on Thursday is expected to approve plans to demolish the 83-year-old station while the city weighs its options for a new station.

Fire Station 9, one of the oldest of the 24 stations in the city, was built in 1938 by a Depression-era Works Progress Administration. However, mold was discovered in the building in December 2017 and the building was permanently vacated in June 2019 after multiple failed attempts to remove the fungus, which can cause a host of health issues.

The proposal for demolition comes despite some public sentiment to preserve the station and have it declared a historic landmark.

A city report said that the site is eligible to become a Long Beach historic landmark and is considered a historic resource by California Environmental Quality Act. However the work needed to completely remove the mold would be so extensive that the building would lose its historical character.

The city considered options including demolishing the structure and erecting a temporary facility for fire personnel, or removing the building and leaving the parcel undeveloped until a future use is determined.

The city may also consider selling the Station 9 parcel, which was suggested by city staff in a city memo earlier this year, or building a permanent replacement fire station on the Station 9 property, which would cost $13 million to $20 million, the report says.

The estimated cost to bring the current station up to code is about $1.5 million, according to the report.

Closing the station negatively affected response times for the residents in the surrounding communities of Los Cerritos and Bixby Knolls as station’s engines and equipment were moved to stations in West and East Long Beach.

The City Council approved a temporary lease for an old Boeing facility near Cherry Avenue and Wardlow Road where Station 9’s assets were relocated in October.

The three-year lease to set up a station at the old Boeing facility is costing the city $10,000 per month in rent.

If the commission does approve the demolition, the site will be secured with fencing to prevent people from accessing the site with mulch added to provide for adequate drainage.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.