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Santa Ana Fights Jail Initiative on Several Fronts

November 17, 1987|BOB SCHWARTZ | Times Staff Writer

By law, Santa Ana is precluded from using city money to oppose an initiative that would place all future county jails within its boundaries.

But the law does not bar the city from sending letters or organizing meetings that are "factual in nature," said Santa Ana City Atty. Edward Cooper--even if the facts presented strongly suggest that putting a new jail in Santa Ana is a rotten idea.

To that end, the City Council on Monday adopted a resolution supporting a Board of Supervisors' decision last July to place a 6,000-bed, maximum security jail in remote Gypsum Canyon.

The council also sent letters to all newspapers in Orange County in support of the Gypsum Canyon site.

"The public deserves to know more about the proposed initiative, which would require all future jail construction to take place in Santa Ana," the two-page letter begins. It goes on to cite the money and time that the county has already spent in selecting the Gypsum Canyon site, and points out that Santa Ana has already "recognized its civic responsibility."

The council Monday also discussed holding an "educational meeting" on the jail issue with the hope of generating organized local opposition to the initiative.

"We can hope that some leadership emerges . . . to develop a grass-roots effort not only in the city but in adjacent cities as well," said Mayor Dan Young, calling the initiative "a horrible piece of proposed public policy."

Earlier this month, the council sent a letter to Santa Ana residents--"to inform you of a matter of URGENT CONCERN," it said--urging them to write to Assemblyman John R. Lewis (R-Orange), who supports the initiative and represents northern Santa Ana.

Allison Rittenhouse, an aide to Lewis, said the office has received about 100 calls and letters from Santa Ana residents about the jail issue. Rittenhouse said Lewis opposes placing a jail north of 17th Street in Santa Ana--the part of the city he represents.

Residents of Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda and south Orange County communities formed the Taxpayers for a Centralized Jail coalition in September and are trying to gather the 66,000 signatures needed by Feb. 11 to place the initiative on the June, 1988, ballot.

The group has collected about 10,000 signatures so far, coalition leader Rick Violett said.

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