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Supervisors Authorize Studies of 4 Primary, 6 Secondary Jail Sites

November 27, 1986|DAVID REYES | Times Staff Writer

Orange County supervisors on Wednesday authorized environmental impact reports on four primary sites and six secondary sites for a new 6,000-inmate maximum-security jail.

The four favored sites, identified from a list of 35 by the county Environmental Management Agency, include three in the county's eastern foothills--the Coal Canyon-Gypsum Canyon area, Fremont Canyon and Irvine Lake. The fourth is Chiquita Canyon, which is northeast of San Juan Capistrano near the Ortega Highway.

The Fremont Canyon and Irvine Lake sites are owned by the Irvine Co., which lodged a protest. Spokesman Sam Couch told board members that his firm "objects to the placement of a jail on any site owned by the Irvine Co."

The Gypsum-Coal Canyon area site is owned in part by Coldwell Banker and the Irvine Co., Couch said, and the Chiquita Canyon site is owned by the Santa Margarita Co.

Objections to the Fremont Canyon and Irvine Lake sites also were raised by Jess Perez, the newly elected mayor of Orange.

The six secondary sites approved Wednesday are Rattlesnake Canyon, north of Irvine, and La Paz, Canada Gobernadora, Caspers Park, Caspers Park East and San Juan Creek, all south of the Ortega Highway.

Board Chairman Ralph B. Clark recommended adoption of the sites identified by the EMA to help speed the selection process in view of "our jail overcrowding crises."

The supervisors have been under pressure to provide more jail space since March, 1985, when they and Sheriff Brad Gates were found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge William P. Gray for not heeding his 1978 order to improve conditions at the main men's jail in downtown Santa Ana.

A proposal 2 1/2 years ago to put a jail in Coal or Gypsum Canyon met stiff opposition from Anaheim Hills residents. The protest prompted the supervisors to extend the search for a new jail site to the entire county.

The sites now under consideration were selected because they meet the size criteria and satisfy a restriction on proximity to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Under EMA guidelines, the sites must be at least 120 acres in size and more than 10 miles from the generating station.

Jail construction costs are estimated at $333.2 million, based on 1986 construction figures, said Thomas Eichhorn, executive assistant to Supervisor Bruce Nestande.

R. G. Fisher, the EMA planning director, said the environmental impact reports are to be completed in 10 months.

On Dec. 17, supervisors are to consider a draft of an environmental impact report on what is described as the "near-term facility," a 1,500-inmate jail proposed for a site near Anaheim Stadium. Construction costs are estimated at $138 million.

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