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COSTA MESA : Planning Board to Discuss Proposed Jail

August 30, 1993|LYNDA NATALI

A controversial county proposal to convert a hotel on Harbor Boulevard into a satellite jail facility will be discussed by the Planning Commission on Sept. 7, with the panel expected to vote the following week.

Orange County Youth and Family Services, the agency hired by the county to find a home for the satellite jail, has proposed locating it at the Ana Mesa Inn at 3597 Harbor Blvd. The plan calls for the conversion of the 50-room hotel into a 100-bed facility housing misdemeanor offenders, officials said.

Inmates in the work furlough program--the majority of whom would be serving time for drunk-driving offenses--work during the day and return at night to the jail, where they are locked in until the next morning.

"There are several things that made this site appealing," said Deborah Abrecht, associate executive director of Orange County Youth and Family Services. "One is it is not anywhere near any residential neighborhoods . . . and one of the most important things is the owners were interested in doing business with us."

The hotel is near the corner of Harbor and MacArthur boulevards, bordering Santa Ana in a commercial area north of the San Diego Freeway.

Two other sites--on Maple Street and Newport Boulevard--were dropped earlier this year after residents mounted campaigns against the plan.

County officials are hoping this site will please the critics.

But opponents are gearing up to fight. "We don't want any jail facility in Costa Mesa, period," said resident Heather Somers. "I haven't spoken with anyone in the entire city who has responded positively to this."

Somers, who is leading a petition drive, said she has collected more than 750 signatures to bolster her case. She said that Costa Mesa has many social service programs and that another one--especially a jail--is not wanted.

Costa Mesa was chosen as the next city to house the work furlough program because of its central location in the county, officials said.

Two others are currently operating in Anaheim and Buena Park.

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