Closed Telecenters

Thirteen telecenters have closed since the September 1995 report was issued. This section discusses each of them, in some cases only briefly due to the problems of contacting non-existent facilities. The newly closed centers are: the Chula Vista Eastern Telecenter (RABO), the Coronado Telecenter (RABO), the East County San Diego Tele*Community Centre in La Mesa/El Cajon (RABO), the Modesto Telecenter (RABO), the Moorpark Community College Telecenter (RABO), the Auburn (RABO) and Rocklin centers, the Antelope Valley Fair Telecommuting Center, the Birch Lane Telecenter and Davis Telebusiness Center, the Ontario Telebusiness Workcenter, the Simi Valley Telework Center, and the Sonoma County Transit Telecommute Center. Also included in this section are summaries of centers reported as closed in previous reports. Closed centers reported from the 1995 Status Tracking Report are: The Telecommuting Workcenter of Riverside County; Citrus Heights (South Placer County Transportation Management Association); Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys and Thousand Oaks and Westlake Telecommuting Centers; and the Ulatis Telecenter (RABO – City of Vacaville). Centers previously reported as closed in the 1994 Status Tracking Report include the Concord and San Jose Telecenters (BATDP), and the Santa Monica City College Telecenter.


Antelope Valley Fair

Antelope Valley Fair Telecommuting Center

The Antelope Valley Fair Telecommuting Center (at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds) was open from August 1, 1994 to the summer of 1996.

The center was sponsored by the Antelope Valley Fair itself, the Department of Food and Agriculture (the 50th District Agricultural Association), the City of Lancaster, and Caltrans and was affiliated with the Southern California Telecommuting Partnership. Its 8,000 square foot facility had 20 open-area workstations, four 100 square foot private offices, one videoconference room, and a regular conference room with seating capacity for 125 people. Equipment consisted of IBM and Macintosh computers; charges for use were $5.00 per hour, $20.00 per day, $90.00 per week, or $300.00 per month.

Marketing activities included advertising the center at the fairgrounds and distributing flyers and brochures. The center offered after-school drop-in use to high school and college students, and at one point plans included giving training programs to participating employers and telecommuters at the center.

As of April 1996 there was only one telecommuter using the facility on a regular basis and no active recruitment was taking place. It was finally decided that there were not enough users to justify the telecenter remaining open.

Bay Area Telecommuting Development Program (BATDP)

Concord and San Jose

In September 1993, as a one-year demonstration program, the Bay Area Telecommuting Development Program (BATDP) established two prototype telecommuting centers, one in Concord and one in San Jose. On February 28, 1994, halfway through the demonstration period, the centers were closed due to low occupancy rates. Although various types of marketing activities were tried, including general advertising, hand bills, direct mailings, distributing flyers on cars, and promoting programs through radio stations, the centers peaked at only a 12 percent occupancy rate. Among the 12 percent, the majority of the telecommuters were from Pacific Bell. With funding for the program depleted, and total project cost overruns of $10,000, an early decision was made to close the centers.

The project manager attributed the low usage rates to the difficulties involved in conveying the concept of telecommuting to employers, and identified one major barrier to the success of telecommuting as lack of trust from employers toward their employees. Moreover, it appeared that those employers who accept telecommuting in general prefer home-based telecommuting to center-based because of the lower costs. As indicated above, a strong marketing effort was made which included news releases, 8,000 pieces of direct mail, radio and print advertising, exposure at trade shows and transportation fairs, a radio talk show, and signage. The project administrator noted that none of these marketing strategies were very effective for the centers, and felt that the transition from publicly-funded centers operating free of charge for users, to fee-based self-supporting centers, dramatically decreases interest in using telecenters.

The Concord site had 14 cubicles and three private offices and was located near a large mall with a residential neighborhood behind it. The San Jose site was located one mile south of an expressway in a business area. The site had 16 cubicles and two private offices, as well as ISDN capability for videoconferencing. Rates were $600 per month for a private office and $400 per month for a cubicle. Users also had the option of an hourly rate, which was set at the current market rate.

Pacific Bell contributed $500,000 of “soft money” (funding for administrative services, staff, space planning, furniture and equipment) to these centers. Other funding sources were the Federal Government ($337,000) and the State ($150,000).

Chula Vista

City of Chula Vista Downtown Telecenter

This center was one of two developed by the City of Chula Vista for the purposes of traffic congestion and vehicle emissions mitigation. Insufficient funding forced its closure April 1, 1997, and its operations were then combined with those of the Eastern Telecenter, described above in the “Currently-Operating RABO Telecenters” section.

The Downtown Telecenter opened February 1995. Located within easy walking distance of public transportation, the city library, restaurants and retail stores, it contained eight large cubical workstations, a private office, a large conference room with a Panasonic videoconferencing system, a classroom, a kitchen area, and the Telecenter Technology Director’s office. Workstation equipment included five 486 DX 66MHz microcomputers with 15 inch CTX color monitors, fax/modems and software. There was also one Apple Macintosh 7100 AV/CD/16MB computer with a 17 inch display monitor, fax/modem and software, as well as an Apple Scan Maker II HR with OCR capabilities. Office support equipment included a laser printer, fax machine, Xerox copier, and phones with a digital message system.

The center was staffed by the Telecenter Technology Director, who was responsible for developing alternate uses for the centers, for forming partnerships with various diverse agencies to promote different uses of the centers, and for operations oversight of the Downtown center. Marketing for both the Eastern and the Downtown centers was conducted concurrently by the Telecenter Director, and is described more particularly in the Eastern Telecenter section above. The Downtown Telecenter had four regular users occupying the center 9.5 telecommuter days per week (i.e. 21% occupancy). In addition to the regular users, a temporary employment agency located in the same building had been using the center over the last year when its clients did not have the space necessary for temporary personnel.


Coronado Telecenter

This site was developed and operated under the direction of the Coronado Transportation Management Association (CTMA), and was the first RABO-sponsored center to open under that program. It was open from October 1993 to the end of June 1996. The decision to close the center came about at least in part as the result of uncertainty around the ultimate disposition of computer equipment purchased with State funds under the RABO project. State regulations stipulate that any equipment purchased with state funds becomes the property of the state unless specific provision is made to donate the equipment to another agency. Under the RABO program, the process of property transfer was difficult and protracted, and ultimately impacted the center’s plans for future operations, for without equipment, the center could not function. In the face of this uncertainty, the center director elected to suspend operations, with plans to eventually reopen the center as part of the Coronado library system.

The telecenter was co-located with the administrative offices of the TMA, the Chamber of Commerce, and Coronado Mainstreet in a one-story building in downtown Coronado. Primary support came from Caltrans, the TMA, and Coronado Bay Bridge toll funds. It occupied 725 square feet with four cubicle workstations and contained secured storage, a conference room, a restroom, a site administrator’s office, and a kitchen area. Workstation equipment consisted of two 486 personal computers with modems, a laser jet printer, and a personal computer for the site administrator’s use.

Recruitment efforts targeted the City and County of San Diego, the Navy and the federal government. Community-based promotion included a newsletter, cable television public service announcements, and participation in regional trade fairs and expos. This center actively coordinated recruitment efforts and promotional activities with other centers in the region, including the two Chula Vista telecenters, the East County San Diego center, and the centers under the direction of HQ Business Centers, Inc., a private executive-suites company.


Birch Lane Telecenter

This center, and the Davis Telebusiness Center, were both developed and operated by a private entrepreneur, Databases and Algorithms, Inc. The Birch Lane center opened in February 1994 and closed in 1995. Reasons for its closure were not reported.

The center was located in a computer lab in an elementary school and was used as a teaching facility during school hours. Hours of operation for the telecenter were from 3:30 in the afternoon until midnight. These hours made the site largely inaccessible to the majority of workers whose normal work hours coincided with school hours. For that reason the developer decided to open a second center, the Davis Telebusiness Center, described below.

While the center was never successful at attracting regular telecommuters, the developer reported that it did well as a community technology resource, particularly for drop-in or casual use. At one time, the developer reported that the center averaged a weekly volume of 10 to 30 persons, mostly students, employing the facility for various purposes. The facility offered access to many different types of software, a fairly extensive CD ROM library, and the Internet. On-site technical assistance for general computing needs was available as well as more specialized services such as Internet training or database programming. Fees were charged according to amount of usage: one-time usage fees for drop-in users were $6.00 per hour for non-students and $5.00 for students. There were also monthly rates for subscription to unlimited usage: $42.00 for a single person, or $69.00 per month for a family pass.

The facility offered 16 80486 25 MHz personal computers with CD ROM drives, multi-media capabilities and internal fax/modems. All computers were connected by a LAN to approximately 300 different software packages, including Microsoft Office, WordPerfect, Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Access, Lotus Freelance and Omni Page. The facility also offered use of a color ink jet laser printer with duplex capability and a Hewlett-Packard scanner.

The Birch Lane Telecenter occupied 1,300 square feet of a 10,300 square foot building and had sixteen cubicle workstations in a large open area. Revenue from user fees was supplemented by support from the Davis Joint Unified School District which underwrote rent and utilities for the center.


Davis Telebusiness Center

This center began operations in November 1994 under the name Davis Telework Center. Shortly after opening, the name was changed to Davis Telebusiness Center to avoid possible trademark infringement for the word “Telework”. It was developed and managed by the same private firm operating the Birch Lane Telecenter, and was established under contract to the RABO program. Both centers ceased operations in 1995.

The Davis Telebusiness Center was established to provide a telecommuting facility in Davis with regular operating hours. It was located in a small office complex and occupied 932 square feet containing ten workstations. The center comprised one large room with a reception area and three cubicle workstations, and three offices, two with two workstations and one with three. It was equipped with three 486 personal computers, two dial-out modems, two laser printers, and a fax/copier. The phone system was Centrex and had voice-mail capability. The center also offered breakroom amenities, including a water cooler and coffee maker.

Funding for the Telebusiness Center came from the Yolo/Solano Air Quality Management District and Caltrans. As with the Birch Lane facility, reasons for closure were not reported.

La Mesa/El Cajon

East County San Diego Tele*Community Centre

This site was developed and managed by a private entrepreneur with extensive support from the local Caltrans district and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The facility in which the center was located was owned by SANDAG, which donated use of the building to the telecenter. The local Caltrans district assisted in developing the site, recruiting and supplying telecommuters, and providing marketing funds. The main portion of funding for site build-out, equipage, and operations came from the RABO program.

The developer planned to position the center not only as a telecommuting center, but also as a community resource for information access and technology, and to serve as a focal point for community events and services. Organizations such as the local Parent-Teachers’ Association were offered free use of the conference rooms for meetings, for example; and services were planned such as free software demonstrations and “family days” where families could use the center at reduced rates. As part of the information technology access component, a fee schedule for services on a drop-in or a casual-use basis was developed. Services for this portion of the center’s operations included faxing, printing, information management education, and access to a CD ROM library, the Internet, and multi-media courseware.

The developer also equipped the center to enhance client businesses’ operations. A local-area network (LAN) was installed with high-speed data lines; one conference room was equipped with a conference table wired with data jacks connected to the LAN to allow access to remote information during meetings. Room-sized videoconferencing equipment was also available in another conference room. The intent was to design a center which could support high technology work and applications based on invisible and instantaneous data transfer. To further promote the center as a means to business development, the developer offered to rent space to local businesses for meetings and presentations for a nominal fee.

The telecenter was located in a strip development adjacent to a residential neighborhood with restaurants, fast food, shopping, cleaners, grocery store and a bus line nearby. It covered 1,550 square feet with a conference room, a multi-media lab, six workstations, a lounge area, and kitchen facilities. The workstations were equipped with personal computers connected to a LAN, and were each supplied with dedicated cabinet space for user storage. The conference room with access to the LAN, as described above, allowed computer-assisted decision-making for groups. The multi-media lab, capable of seating 35 people, was equipped with four monitors as well as a pull-down projection screen and overhead RGB projector capable of projecting computer-generated images. Kitchen facilities were equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and sink.

The center’s computers were configured with different operating environments: Macintosh, OS/2, UNIX, or DOS/Windows; and typically had 8 MB RAM, a 200 MB hard drive, an SVGA monitor, and at least an 80386 microprocessor. Each workstation was linked through the LAN to five different servers, including a mail server, a fax server, a communication server, and a file server. User files were maintained on the file server, and each user was allowed one megabyte of hard disk space on the file server. The communication server provided connectivity to remote systems including ISDN, Internet and employer-hosted computers.

Marketing mainly took the form of presentations to the Employee Transportation Coordinators of major employers, open houses, and participation in trade fairs and expos. Recruitment of center users was mostly accomplished by a key staff member of the local Caltrans district office.

The center officially opened March 15, 1995. It seemed to be operating smoothly until June 1995, after which all reporting to the RABO project management ceased. In November 1995, tenants reported the developer/operator had abruptly closed the center without notification.

Los Angeles and Ventura Counties (US GSA)

Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys Telecommuting Center

Thousand Oaks and Westlake Telecommuting Center

Both centers opened in February 1994 and closed in January 1995.

The federal government began its telecommuting program in the Washington DC area and intended to study the East coast program before expanding it across the country. As a result, no preliminary site selection studies or surveys had been conducted when the Northridge earthquake hit. Although the possibility of opening as many as nine telecenters throughout California for federal employees had been discussed, a decision was made to immediately open three centers in Southern California to help residents cope with the damage resulting from the earthquake.

The Thousand Oaks and Westlake Telecommuting Center had 24 workstations and the Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys Telecommuting Center had 28. At one point in 1994 the Thousand Oaks and Westlake center reported 20 of its workstations occupied, while the Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys center reported 12 of its workstations being used. All users were federal agency workers. However, occupancy at the Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys center declined after roads were repaired and re-opened, since most workers using the center could as easily drive to their central office as to the center. Moreover, the Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys facility had maintenance problems (unrelated to the earthquake) which resulted in decreased usage.

Very limited information was available regarding the number of federal employees living near the three sites selected, how many of those employees would be interested in using the facilities, or which of the federal agencies and managers in those areas would be willing to allow their employees to use the sites. As the program continued, it became clear that the Santa Clarita facility received much more interest from users than either the Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys location or the Thousand Oaks and Westlake location. The lack of detailed information in site selection seems to have been a significant factor in the eventual closure of these two centers.


Modesto Neighborhood Telework Workcentre

This center opened August 1994 and closed November 15, 1995. It was developed and operated under the direction of the City of Modesto with support from the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Management District (SJVAQMD) and the RABO program. The City of Modesto and Pacific Bell provided in-kind funding: the city provided accounting services and some administrative support and oversight, and Pacific Bell donated furniture.

Although usage levels were relatively high for the center, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories as well as two other companies maintained a strong presence in the telecenter, the center came into jeopardy when it lost its AQMD funding. In 1995, the SJVAQMD implemented a new rating system using quantity of emissions reduced as a measure of merit in awarding funding to projects competing for grant money. Because the center could not yet demonstrate significant poundage of annual emission reduction, it placed low on the list of programs requesting funds. Funding instead went to used-vehicle buy-back programs. The center was further compromised as a result of delays in the RABO program funding. As a result, client organizations refused to commit to continue using the center until it could demonstrate greater stability, and the center lost users.

The City of Modesto agreed to fund the center’s on-going operations on a month-to-month basis with a view to recovering all costs expended. An application for State Petroleum Violation Escrow Account (see “Terms and Definitions” section) funds was submitted and denied in September. Although Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, the federal GSA, and the RABO program all attempted to forestall its closing, in November 1995, the City of Modesto terminated operations of the center.

The center itself was located in an office building next to strip commercial development and directly adjacent to several residential neighborhoods. Until August 1995 the center comprised 2,300 square feet of space which was then reduced to 1,062 square feet of space. The original center contained two private offices, an open area with six workspaces, and a conference room. Computer equipment for the center consisted of seven IBM 486 PCs and one Macintosh computer, all with modems. The center also had two color ink jet printers and two laser printers. Two ISDN lines were installed by one employer in a private office for dedicated use in the center by its employees.

Since marketing funds were limited, marketing and promotion for the center was confined to that which could be done for free and to donated resources. The site administrator was very successful at generating free publicity for the telecenter. Human interest stories about the center and its telecommuters were aired on the news broadcasts of the three major Sacramento television stations during 1995. In addition, the administrator addressed different professional associations and groups in the region and was very successful at generating contacts that way. As part of the donated publicity, a billboard promoting the center was mounted along one of the main highways; however, it generated little response and resulted in no new users.


Telebusiness Workcenter

The Telebusiness Workcenter in Ontario closed its doors on June 30, 1996. It was established in 1991 by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership as a two-year pilot project and opened in October of that year. In January 1994, the City of Ontario assumed oversight and operations responsibilities for the center, and until its closure, an independent, non-profit institute for policy research, Center for the New West, managed it. The city made the decision to terminate operations partly in response to financial pressures, partly as a response to low daily usage levels, and partly because it was felt that the major objectives of the pilot project had been met. When the city first took over operations of the center, it was hoped that the center would become either self-sustaining or be privatized. In the absence of either circumstance, the city could not afford to continue operating the center. Charges per workstation ranged between $100 to $150 per month, but operating costs per workstation ran $500.00 per month. And although the center had 25 to 30 regular telecommuters, only two or three were at the facility on any given day, which was not considered enough to warrant continuing operations.

The center was located just off the freeway near the Ontario airport. It comprised 18 workstations, two conference rooms, a kitchen, a separate lounge area, and two semi-private offices. All workstations were equipped with personal computers, including 386s, 486s, and a few IBM PS/2 model 30s. One of the conference rooms was equipped with a PictureTel 1000 videoconference system. Other equipment included four laser printers, several dot matrix printers, and facsimile and photocopy machines. Voice mail could be supplied upon request, and the center had installed a fiber optic link to support advanced telework activities as needed.

Support for the center came from the City of Ontario, Caltrans, GTE, and PictureTel and Intel, both of which donated videoconferencing equipment and computers; and in February 1995, Xerox provided upgraded photocopy and fax machines.

Marketing for the center consisted of hosting open houses and tours of the facility, and of networking with other centers in the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (High Desert Telebusiness Center, Highland Telework Center, Ontario Telebusiness Workcenter, and Pomona Telebusiness Workcenter) to develop marketing strategies. A program providing services to patrons of the City’s major hotels was implemented with a fair degree of success. These services included use of copy/fax machines, phones, computers, workstations, private offices, and videoconferencing. Under this program, an Israeli delegation which was staying at one of the hotels for an extended period of time leased three to four workstations for approximately nine months. Overall, this particular component yielded considerable added value to the center.

Placer County

South Placer Transportation Management Association

Auburn, Citrus Heights, and Rocklin

The Auburn Telecenter, the Citrus Heights Telecenter, and the Rocklin Telecenter were three of four centers developed by the South Placer County Transportation Management Association. The fourth center is the Roseville Telecenter, which to the authors’ knowledge, remains open and is operated by a private enterprise. The Citrus Heights Telecenter, the Auburn Telecenter, and the Rocklin Telecenter opened March 1, 1994, March 15, 1994, and October 4, 1994 respectively. The exact dates of their closure are not known, but all closed in early 1995. The Citrus Heights center and the Auburn center were established under, and for a very brief period of time partially funded by, the RABO program. Reasons for closure of the Rocklin and Auburn centers were not reported, although the SPTMA office indicated at one time that the Citrus Heights Telecenter had been closed because it was located outside Placer County. Operating history of these centers was not provided. The following brief description of the facilities and equipment for each site is taken from the December 1994 Status Tracking Report:

The Auburn Telecenter contained 1,685 square feet consisting of 12 workstations, a conference room, copier, fax, modem, computers, printer, phones, voice mailboxes, and ISDN lines. Amenities included daycare center and health club facilities within the complex, shower facilities and proximity to restaurants and shopping.

The Citrus Heights Telecenter was located in the historic Rusch House, situated within the botanical gardens of the original homestead. The center was 1,203 square feet consisting of 9 workstations, a conference room, copier, fax, computer, printer, modem, phones, and voice mailboxes. The telecenter was located on the grounds of a community park complex with swimming pool, walking paths, tennis courts, ball fields and picnic facilities. The Sunrise Park and Recreation Department runs a day-care facility in the park complex and private day-care center is within walking distance.

The Rocklin Telecenter was approximately 1,600 square feet consisting of 12 workstations, a conference room, copier, fax, modem, computer, printer, phones and voice mailboxes. Amenities included a day-care center located next to the telecenter, Stanford Ranch restaurants within walking distance, shopping and banking.

For each site, the first month’s rent was free with a six month commitment (except for long-distance telecommunication charges and photo copies). After the initial one month period, costs were to rise to a negotiable rate of approximately $20.00 per day. Employers could reserve workstations for as little as one day per week.


The Telecommuting WorkCenter of Riverside County

Portions of this summary were drawn from Telecommuting Centers and Related Concepts: A Review of Practice, by Michael Bagley, et al. Please see the section “Reports Available from the RABO Project” at the front of this document for more information.

This center opened in November 1991 and ceased operations July 1, 1995, after funding for the center expired. It was established jointly by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, the State of California, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, and Pacific Bell, with additional start-up contributions from Southern California Edison, Stockwell & Binney, IBM, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Gas Company, Thomas Luebs & Mort, Xerox, the City of Riverside and PacTel Business Systems. It was originally planned as a one-year demonstration project designed to help address traffic congestion and vehicle emissions in the region. After operating for approximately two years under the direction of the IEEP, management of the center was transferred to the City of Riverside, which operated it until its closure.

The center originally occupied part of a one-story office building situated in a light industrial office park. Its 8,100 square feet contained 19 private offices and space for 24 additional office cubicles, and offered video- and audio-conferencing capabilities, two conference rooms, lunch room, reception area, and a site administrator’s office. In all, the center could accommodate as many as 70 telecommuters daily, and at one point in 1993 had 40 telecommuters actively using the center, making it the most heavily-used multi-employer telecenter studied at the time.

In February 1994, the center was moved to a smaller, less expensive facility. The new center had 3,800 square feet and was located near Route 91 and a residential area. It comprised 16 open-area workstations, five private offices, and two more closed offices containing 5 workstations. Videoconferencing facilities were also available. Each participating employer paid for the cost of moving the equipment and furnishings used by its employees.

Post start-up funding for the center came from the County of Riverside and the Petroleum Violation Escrow Account. Marketing activities focussed on presentations to employers as well as networking with other centers in Southern California (High Desert Telebusiness Workcenter, Pomona Telecommuting Center, Ontario Telebusiness Workcenter, and Highland Telework Center) to increase marketing effectiveness.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica City College Telecenter

The following excerpt is from the December 1994 Status Tracking Report by Shirley Henderson et al:

The Santa Monica City College Telecenter was opened on March 1, 1994 in response to the Northridge earthquake, for the benefit of the workers normally using Interstate 10 (the Santa Monica Freeway) to commute to or through mid-Wilshire, downtown Los Angeles, and elsewhere within the region. I-10 was closed for two months following the quake, but reopened less than a month after the center opened. Thus, transportation effects of the quake provided little incentive for people to use the center. The center was a joint effort involving the City College, AT&T, the Southern California Emergency Telecommuting Partnership, and other organizations. AT&T operated the center and supplied much of its equipment and furnishings. Other equipment was donated by Kodak and PictureTel. The center closed on May 29, 1994 when AT&T reached the end of its 90-day contract with the City College. Neither the City College nor AT&T wanted to pursue further operation of the center since it did not demonstrate success during the trial period.

There were reportedly several reasons why the center did not succeed. One important reason was an apparent lack of consensus on who would perform what roles. Some parties expected the City College to operate and market the center, whereas the College appeared to view its role primarily as providing the physical space for the center. The College itself sustained $20 million of earthquake damage÷the highest of any community college affected÷and officials were preoccupied with obtaining emergency repairs and with re-opening the school for the second semester. Finally, one consequence of the above mentioned factors was insufficient attention to marketing. Half of a $5,000 marketing donation was used to hire a consultant for marketing ideas rather than directly hiring sales representatives to market the center. The center was advertised in the college newspaper and the course catalogs which were distributed throughout the Santa Monica community. While this strategy may have been useful in reaching prospective telecommuters, it did not reach the employers of those prospects.

No records were kept on the center’s occupancy levels. The center had 20 open-area workstations with a two-line telephone and personal computer in each workstation, two additional open-area workstations with desk top videoconferencing, and a large conference room with two group videoconferencing systems. Space, equipment, and most services were provided free of charge; one exception is that telecommuters had to provide their own telephone calling cards.

Simi Valley

Simi Valley Telework Center

The Simi Valley Telework Center in Ventura County opened unofficially in June 1991 and officially in June 1993. It was closed in December 1995 for lack of use.

The center used excess space leased by the Simi Valley Transportation Management Association and had four workstations and a reception area. It was equipped with a copier, fax machines and videoconference equipment from Intel and PictureTel. Support for the telecenter came from the Transportation Management Association, which donated use of the space, and a $200,000 grant from the Petroleum Violation Escrow Account.

Throughout its lifespan, the center was used sporadically. Users tended to employ the facility for limited periods of time or specifically for short-term projects such as editing or desk-top publishing. Marketing for the center focused on presentations to employee transportation coordinators and coordination with the Southern California Telecommuting Partnership.

The lease rate for a workstation was listed as $300 per month, but the amount was negotiable, depending upon the amount of use and user requirements.

Sonoma State University

Sonoma County Transit Telecommute Center

This center, operated by Sonoma County Transit and located on the California State University – Sonoma campus, was established as a pilot project in December 1994 to determine the level of interest for telecommuting in Sonoma County. Its first year of operations was funded by a $20,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration with additional support from Sonoma County Transit, which continued to underwrite operations for the second fiscal year ending June 1996. Approximately 50 people used the center on an infrequent basis over the course of the pilot project. Employer resistance to telecommuting prevented many interested employees from using the center. On June 30, 1996, it was closed when the initial funding had been exhausted and the university required the space back for its own operations.

The facility was a secured, temporary building on the campus. It offered four cubicle workstations, each equipped with a personal computer, modem, telephone, and answering machine. Peripheral support equipment included a shared laser printer, a facsimile machine, and a photocopier. Telecommuters could use the center up to two days per week for free. There was no on-site administrator; instead, telecommuters registered to use the center through the Telecommuting Coordinator at Sonoma County Transit, and were each assigned a personal code allowing access to the building and telephone system. Additionally, Sonoma County Transit provided free bus passes to users for the commute to and from the center. On-campus amenities included a cafeteria, Federal Express service, a day-care center, a library, and a bookstore.

Marketing activities included radio and television news reports, press releases to newspapers in Marin and Sonoma Counties, newspaper advertisements, and articles in local business journals and other publications.


Ulatis Telecenter in Vacaville

This center was one of two developed and operated by the City of Vacaville. It was opened in April 1994 with support from the city, the RABO program, and the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District, and closed in June 1995.

The center was located in the Ulatis Community Center, a building which had been very recently constructed. Almost immediately after opening, structural problems began to occur. The site administrator initially scheduled the closure of the telecenter for a short period while repairs were completed. However, upon reviewing usage levels for both centers, he decided to close the Ulatis center and merge its operations with the Alamo (Three Oaks – Vacaville) Telecenter until the demand for workspaces justified reopening the Ulatis center.

The center contained 540 square feet housing seven cubicle workstations. There was no conference room available in the immediate area of the telecenter; however, rooms adjacent to the center in the Community Center building could be used for that purpose. The center was equipped with four Compaq 80486s with 9600 baud internal modems. On-site user services included access to fax and copy machines, and phones. The center also provided coffee, tea, and use of a refrigerator and microwave.

The area surrounding this site is mostly industrial mixed with commercial; the Factory Outlet stores, a large shopping complex, are within two blocks of the Community Center building. The residential neighborhood is at a slightly greater remove, but still within walking distance. Also within walking distance are the library and the community theater. The immediate area is well endowed with bike lanes, which serve the nearby residential neighborhood.

The space in Ulatis Community Center is still available for a telecenter, and developers plan to use it for that purpose in the future; however, no re-opening date has yet been established.

Ventura County Community Colleges District

Moorpark Community College Telecenter

The Moorpark Telecenter opened for use in April 1995 and closed at the end of June 1996 after 14 months. This was one of two centers established under the auspices of the State of California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office through the Ventura County Community Colleges District with funding from the RABO program. The other is the Ventura Community College telecenter. Both centers were planned to be part of a larger program sponsored by Caltrans and developed by the Chancellor’s office to establish telecenters on community college campuses state-wide. While the decision to establish the campus’ telecenters and funding for them came from the RABO program through the VCCD offices, operations and management responsibilities devolved upon the individual campuses. In the case of the Moorpark center, strong support for the center at the administrative level never developed as it did in the Ventura center, and unfortunately, the state-wide community colleges program was terminated in the planning stages. Consequently, the Moorpark center was closed due to an administrative decision of the college when funding from the RABO program terminated and no other funding was made readily available.

The Moorpark center was located on the second floor of the campus library. It occupied two rooms totaling approximately 900 square feet with a niche for the site administrator’s office, five cubicle workstations, and a conference room equipped with PictureTel Venue 2000 videoconference equipment used for distance learning and telemeetings. Office equipment consisted of two 486 personal computers with fax/modems and software and a Macintosh 7100 Power PC. There was also one shared laser printer, one external facsimile machine, a phone with voice-mail capability, and ISDN.

On-campus amenities included food service facilities, a bookstore, library resources, postal and Federal Express services, and UPS service upon request.

Marketing for the center was accomplished mostly in conjunction with the Ventura site, and consisted largely of participation in trade shows and expos, hosting open houses, and presentations to various professional associations. The Moorpark site administrator also conducted an intensive survey of the campus student body to help identify potential users. However, this did not yield the hoped-for results. Both centers received considerable unsolicited attention from the press which resulted in new users.

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