L. A. Council Votes to Back Castaic Prison Site

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to support state legislation to designate land near the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho in Castaic, instead of a downtown Los Angeles site, for a new state prison.

The bill by Democratic Assemblywoman Gloria Molina, whose district includes the proposed downtown site, will go before the Assembly Committee on Public Safety on Monday.

Opposing the council’s position were San Fernando Valley Councilmen Ernani Bernardi, Hal Bernson and Howard Finn. Castaic, north of the Valley, is outside the Los Angeles city limits.


“I have no problem opposing the downtown site,” Bernson said. “But I don’t think we should recommend it to somebody else’s backyard.”

L.A. Site Close to Schools

Downtown Councilman Gilbert W. Lindsay, who requested the council action, said the proposal for a city site “would put a prison within two miles of 20 elementary schools, six junior and senior high schools, and detention centers which already house over 13,000 inmates.”

The state Department of Corrections studied the Pitchess property for the proposed 2,200-bed prison but rejected it, “because the site was deemed remote, hilly and in the flood plain,” according to a report by the city’s chief legislative analyst.

The department chose a site near 12th Street and Santa Fe Avenue downtown, citing its proximity to courts and freeways. Gov. George Deukmejian has expressed a preference for an urban site because it would be more accessible to visitors of prisoners.

Dawson Oppenheimer, a deputy to County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district includes Castaic and who opposes construction of a prison there, expressed confidence that Molina’s efforts would fail.