Musick Madness - Part 4 (Musick in Context)

Among more than 20 projects funded by the State, Musick is larger, more expensive to build, closer to occupied space, and built on the most expensive land.

Because the State of California did such a poor job managing our prison system (e.g., 200% capacity, 70% recidivism), the State was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce the prison population, forcing at least 30,000 so-called “low level” criminals in State prisons to be transferred to County jails. Over the objections of several groups, including the California State Sheriff’s Association and the Public Policy Institute of California, the State’s response to this challenge is to spend Billions of dollars to expand the County jail system. Despite the fact that alternative measures were approved and recommended, almost all of the funds being spent will be spent on bricks and mortar solutions, a solution already known to be insufficient given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

As of September 2012, nearly two dozen building projects were in the works which, when completed, will mean more than 10,000 new beds for criminals in County jails. Here are some interesting factoids about these new projects and, more importantly for the citizens of Lake Forest, about the new jail that is going to be built on the grounds of Musick Jail.

Over the 20+ projects approved and funded by the State, the average number of beds being built is 456 (range 42 to 1270) and the average cost per bed is $186,035 (range $80,000 to $262,267).  The new Musick Jail addition is larger than average (512 vs. 456) and more expensive than average to build ($195,312 vs. $186,035).

Less than a third of the 20+ projects involve a new building. All the rest of the projects involve expanding or replacing an existing structure. Musick Jail is one of the few projects where a new building is being proposed.

Nearly two thirds of the 20+ projects involve maximum security inmates. As far as the State knows, Musick Jail does not involve maximum security inmates. The most recent State AB 900 progress report (Sept 2012) notes that Orange County is slated for “512 medium security beds and related ancillary space.” Only by reading the MOU between Lake Forest and the Sheriff do we learn that the Sheriff plans to place maximum security inmates into Musick, apparently unbeknownst to the State who is funding the project.

Most of the nearly two dozen projects are being built in relatively isolated areas, some miles away from the nearest home, business, or office building. Of all these projects, no project is being built closer to existing occupied spaced than Musick, which now abuts the commercial space along the North side of Bake Parkway and sits within 1,000 feet of residential property.

Most of the new projects are being built next to areas where the home prices are modest, to say the least. No other county is building or renovating any prison/jail structure that sits in a more expensive area than Musick Jail.  The average home price for homes closest to the new projects is slightly under $250,000. The average price of homes for sale near Musick is $602,078.

Here are the figures for the average home price for homes closest to the some of the proposed prison/jail additions -

• Orange County (Lake Forest) - $602,078
• Santa Barbara (Santa Maria) - $414,631
• Los Angeles (Castaic) - $353,057
• San Diego (Santee) - $281,505
• Solano (Fairfield) - $185,740
• Madera (Madera) - $99,969
• Calaveras (San Andreas) - $98,355
• Kern (Bakersfield) - $91,653
• San Bernardino (Adelanto) - $89,360

It should be clear to see that the Musick Jail project is an outlier. Compared to the rest of the AB 900 prisons construction projects, Musick Jail is more expensive on a cost per bed basis, proposes to add more inmates, proposes to build a stand-alone facility while others add or replace to existing buildings, is being built closest to existing occupied space, and is being built next to the most expensive homes in the State by more than double the value.

Orange County may need to expand its ability to handle inmates, but the selection of Musick Jail is a poor choice indeed.

Next week on December 11 the Board of Supervisors will consider ratifying the plans for Musick. There is still time to go to their website and voice your opposition, or show up at the meeting and testify against the move.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Gardner December 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Thanks. Yes it was a stacked deck and the outcome was already decided before I testified. However, I wanted it on record that the Supervisors were aware that the County had contracted with the State for 524 medium security inmates only and were not living up to their agreement and, in fact, were putting in 32 beds for MAXIMUM security inmates and well as establishing policy for admitting MAXIMUM security inmates. I plan to take my evidence to the California Attorney General as well as the Department of Corrections. I'm not a lawyer so I can't tell you whether or not the Supervisors and the Sheriff are knowingly breaking the law. All I can do is report the incident and supply the evidence. It was good to see that the City of Irvine continues on their quest to stop the Musick expansion. They will meet shortly to see if they will appeal the recent decision against them. You're right about Herzog, He has no shame. He reported that no one objected to the MOU when he knew perfectly well that the City Manager and everyone involved had assured our citizens that no MAXIMUM security inmates would be at Musick. Without the threat of more serious criminals, there was no protest. But this was the result of mis-information, as I pointed out in my articles about Musick and the MOU.
Andromeda December 11, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Yes, I think the only shot we have is for Irvine to continue the litigation against the Musick expansion. Based on Campbell's comments during the discussion and the written statement delivered to the Board of Supervisors by Irvine's leaders - it seems probable that Irvine will step up to the plate once again and try to put the kabash on it. At least Irvine supports it's own citizens. And since Irvine has it's own police department and no intimate ties to the Sheriff or OCSD - it's make it that much easier for them to fight Musick. Let's face it - both the City of Lake Forest and the Supervisors are in deep in the sack with the Sheriff and OSCD. And I would be VERY surprised if you get any cooperation from the CA Attorney General or the DOC on this matter. The Board of Supervisors should be renamed to the "Board of Puppets".
Valerie Parkhurst December 12, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Mr Gardner I am a real estate expert neighborhoods with a disproportinate amount of sex offenders have an average depreciation of 19% over neighborhoods with stronger sex offender legislation...add to that a designated sexual predator depreciates it another 3 %...while Miss Andomeda wants to dazzle you with "city business" her ultimate goal is far something more sinister..why dont you ask her???
Andromeda December 12, 2012 at 04:09 AM
It's doubtful that you could possibly be as ignorant in person as you appear on these boards, Valerie. So I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I am just going to assume that you have a few problems in your life that make you act out once in awhile on comment boards but that overall you're a decent person. Are you singing "My Country Tis of Thee" 3 times a day? If not, try it. It might help restore some balance. Enjoy your evening. Isn't American Idol on tonight? Now I bet that's a show that you could really enjoy.
Jim Gardner December 27, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Some good news from the City of Irvine. Their City Council met on Dec 18 and voted unanimously to proceed with the appeal and to do whatever else was needed (including possibly a new law suit) to prevent the expansion of Musick. Bear in mind that Irvine doesn't even have any residential housing near the Musick Jail, while our homes are within 1,000 feet of the Jail. Yet out City Council voted unanimously to roll over and approve the expansion.


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