Critics of Ventura County's proposed jail near Santa Paula joined forces Friday to object to it being built on agricultural land and on a Chumash Indian site.
Speaking to a crowd of about 50 gathered on the county-owned site on Todd Road, lemon farmer Robert Pinkerton said building a jail would set a precedent for future development that could threaten the area's agricultural industry.
"The jail is a definite boon to development, but agriculture is not compatible to housing," Pinkerton said.
The Santa Paula farmer said the jail would violate a county agreement with the 10 cities in the county, which calls for an agricultural greenbelt between Santa Paula and Ventura.
Bob Braitman, the jail project coordinator, said the greenbelt would not be in danger because the open-space agreement does not permit private or commercial development.
"There is no precedent being set here," Braitman said. "Only public improvements may be made."
American Indian rights activists said a prehistoric battle had been fought near the site and that construction of the jail could destroy valuable artifacts.
A stone shard from a ceremonial bowl has been discovered on the site, county officials said.
Richard Angula, chief of the California Indian Council, said the county should be careful not to destroy the history hidden on the site. "Once it's plowed over, it's gone," he said.
Other concerns involve a reported fault line underlying the site and flooding that could occur if dams along the Santa Clara River give way.
A second report of the environmental effects of the jail will be available for public review in August, Braitman said.