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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Re-Entry Facility Will Be Heard Today by County and Davis City Council

This morning, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors will take up the controversial issue of the re-entry facility.

While the staff recommendation for the county is to approve the three sites which would fulfill the requirements by the county to identify three sites before a deadline, there is some suggestion that the county may seek to try to rank-order the sites as well. This move may alleviate anxiety for some county residents who are overwhelmingly opposed to the placement of such a facility near their communities.

We have covered a number of different aspects of this in the last few days. Today we will tie up a few loose ends.

Tonight, the Davis City Council will get briefed on the issue. By then the Board of Supervisors may have already made some sort of decision at least in terms of a preference order. It seems unlikely that the issue will be resolved by tonight.

In Sunday's Vanguard, Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek expressed concerns both about the project and the process.
"The proposed project is located in the Davis planning area, it would have a Davis address. And the occupants of the facility would be released into our community. So yes, I have very strong concerns."
One of his big concerns was the lack of communication between the county and the city of Davis.
"I had actually heard from neighbors of the area, outside the city limits, before I had heard anything from city staff or the county. That leads me to believe that our city staff was not kept abreast of the plan to propose this site and it leads me to believe that our inclusion in the process was not considered from the beginning."
While Councilmember Heystek expressed concern about the possibility of city services being required for the county airport location, Supervisor Matt Rexroad downplayed that possibility.

In an email from Thursday night, Supervisor Rexroad acknowledged that the road situation might be a problem, but believed that other potential shortcomings could be resolved.
"I think the road issues is the biggest one in this area. The flooding issue, power issue, and a couple others that were mentioned tonight can be solved and improved for others with this project."
One of the big questions is who would be required to solve those problems. The city of Camarillo is going through a similar experience with a federally imposed prison hospital that might be built near their city. The city there has argued that they probably do not have the power to the prevent the federal or state government from placing the facility in Ventura County, but they are under no obligation to supply it with water.

The issue of fire staffing and emergency services seems to be more tricky. Currently the Plainfield area is served by a volunteer fire department with two volunteer firefighters. In an emergency at the prison, that would quickly overwhelm them. Who would be required to back them up?

All of these questions could have been resolved had the county been more forthcoming and communicated with the cities.

Councilmember Heystek:
"We want to maintain a positive relationship with our counterparts in the county. We have already learned from the lessons of the northwest quadrant that the city of Davis has a very strong interest in protecting interests not only within our boundaries but also within areas of our county where we have a clear say on, per agreement and per conventional planning principals.

It troubles me that we were not involved at an earlier stage in a meaningful way."
Meanwhile there was word yesterday that another group has an interest in the proceedings with the county today--the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the building trades. They will be looking to ensure that any contract has provisions to use union workers to design the facility. There is indication that these groups will show up in mass today to urge the county to place provisions within any authorization for the re-entry facility that it must have union labor.

However, much has to occur before that can even happen. The board of supervisors meeting will likely be packed today with residents urging that they not build in their backyard.

Stay tuned to Vanguard for the latest news and updates on this situation throughout the day.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting