Board of supervisors to discuss jail improvements and cannabis regs

The supes will decide if the county should apply for state funds to build jail facilities.

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UKIAH, 2/6/2017 — Tomorrow’s board of supervisors meeting will include a proposal for new construction at the jail, discussion about the planning commission’s recommendations about the proposed cannabis cultivation ordinances, possible action on the proposed closure of trash and recycling centers in Westport, and a bid to change the dates of school board elections.

The jail

The supervisors are scheduled to decide if they will approve an application for bond funding to replace the booking and intake facility at the jail, and to replace housing wings characterized as “maintenance intensive.”

SB 844 is a California state bond program to reimburse local governments for construction projects at adult detention facilities. The county is prepared to chip in $1,046,740 to start work on the project, which could cost a total of $50 million to $75 million.

A 2015 county needs assessment for the jail found that mentally ill inmates need appropriate housing, and noted that the aging inmate population has increased medical needs. The women’s jail is also chronically overcrowded. There is a lack of rooms for inmate programs, a lack of appropriate space for confidential visits with attorneys, and a need of appropriate housing for maximum security inmates.

In order to use SB 844 funds, new construction must be separate from the buildings now in existence, and all new buildings must be ADA compliant. Reimbursement from the state will only begin after the first construction payment is billed. The total cost of the project, according to a presentation accompanying the agenda item, could range from $50 million to $75 million, with preliminary costs between $25 million and $27 million. The county may be asked to invest $6 million prior to state reimbursement, with a final non-reimbursed cost of $2 million.

Cannabis

The board will also discuss the planning commission’s recommendations about the proposed cannabis cultivation ordinance. Public comment to the board and the planning commission included seven letters requesting that cannabis cultivation be excluded from parcels zoned for rangeland and various types of residential uses. The planning commission recommended that the board consider future amendments that would allow cultivation on rangeland, forest land, and timber production zones. Groups from the Willits Environmental Center to the Mendocino County Blacktail Association object strongly to allowing cannabis cultivation on rangeland.

Closing the dump

The recycling center and transfer station in Westport are slated for closure, as part of an agreement to help Solid Waste of Willits reduce costs and save money. A board of supervisors ad hoc committee working with SWOW on the agreement calculated last month that closing the recycling centers in Westport, Boonville and Gualala would save the contractor $131,455. The agenda item for tomorrow’s meeting is accompanied by a letter urging the supervisors to keep the Westport facilities open.

Thad Van Bueren, chair of the Westport Municipal Advisory Council, wrote “as a private citizen” to express his fears that closing both the recycling center and the transfer station would lead to an increase in illegal dumping. He said he was one of many people in Westport who signed a petition asking the board to require that SWOW provide services at least one day a week.

Telephone service

The board is also asked to ratify a letter from The Utility Reform Network (TURN) to the California Public Utilities Commission, asking commissioners to deny a request by AT&T to delay complying with a recent CPUC ruling.

On January 4, CPUC made a decision in a proceeding about rural call completion, call initiation, and other call completion issues. A CPUC hearing in Ukiah on July 15, 2016, featured a great deal of testimony about residents’ inability to make 911 calls after a fiber cut in Hopland on September 3, 2015. Many residents also complained about being unable to make calls at times when no such explanation was immediately available.

CPUC’s decision last month included orders to carriers to make a number of changes on a staggered schedule, from January 31 to June 30, 2017. These include itemized quarterly reports about call completion problems, seeking data to determine the reason for the difference between attempted and completed calls, and providing city, county and tribal Offices of Emergency Services with emergency contact information. AT&T requests a time extension on implementing these requirements, while the letter from TURN states that “The carriers chose to wait until the last moment to attempt to raise any concerns with the compliance requirements and dates.” AT&T’s letter is dated January 27, 2017. It was followed by similar letters from several other major carriers, including Frontier, MCI, and Comcast.

The consent calendar

Items in the consent calendar include changing the dates of school board elections, and replacing vehicles from the sheriff’s department. The boards of the unified school districts of Laytonville, Leggett Valley, Potter Valley, Ukiah, and Willits, as well as the Mendo-Lake Community College District, resolved that changing the date of board elections from November of this year to November 2018 would defer costs and save money. They also noted that political subdivisions with a significant decrease in voter turnout are required by state law to hold their elections on the same day as statewide elections.

Also in the consent calendar, the sheriff will request funds to purchase vehicles, including one 4×4 pickup truck that was stolen.

Sarah Reith sreith@mendovoice.com

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