County seeks bids for replacing women’s jail
By JAMES R. RIFFEL
City News ServiceThe Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized staff to seek bids for the design and construction of a once-controversial replacement for the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility in Santee.
The new jail will have nearly double the amount of beds and triple the size of its compound — from 15 to 45 acres.
The 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Dianne Jacob dissenting, came without the usual opposition from Santee residents, who fought the proposed expansion of the jail for years.
The women’s jail has been long criticized for overcrowding and disrepair.
“This is a long-awaited construction project” that will provide “adequate and humane facilities” for inmates, said April Heinze, director of the county’s Department of General Services.
The bids for the $289 million project will be advertised by the end of the week on the county’s Web site, Heinze said. Current marketplace conditions have dropped the estimated cost from more than $300 million.
She said companies can apply through mid-July to see if they qualify for the project, and firms that make the cut will compete for the job in the fall.
Contracts will be awarded at the beginning of 2011, with completion expected in 2014, according to Heinze.
Residents of the East County city previously contended the land near the center of Santee would be valuable redevelopment property, and the current use of a jail is incompatible with its residential surroundings.
On Wednesday, the supervisors will take up another long-term controversial issue, the siting of medical marijuana collectives in unincorporated areas of the county.
The county Planning Commission has proposed that zoning laws be amended to keep collectives 500 feet from properties zoned residential, 600 feet from sensitive land uses like churches and schools and 1,000 feet from other collectives.
The original restrictions proposed to the county Planning Commission called for 1,000-foot setbacks from each of those classifications of land.
The supervisors have been criticized for slow implementation of the state Compassionate Use Act, which voters passed in 1996.
The county placed a moratorium against marijuana collectives in unincorporated areas while staff developed zoning regulations.