County Orders Study of Jail Expansion Impact

Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved spending $75,000 to study the impact on the City of Orange of adding four buildings to the Theo Lacy branch jail in Orange.

"Quick solutions are the quicksand of our jail crisis in Orange County," Supervisor Don R. Roth said in proposing the environmental impact report on the proposed expansion.

Theo Lacy is a 720-bed, minimum security jail. It would be expanded by 1,016 beds.

Roth, whose district includes Lacy, said the study should cover social and economic impacts on the city and consider the potential for increased noise, decreased air quality and traffic problems.

The county Environmental Management Agency had suggested that the county draw plans for the expansion without preparing an environmental impact report, which will take until October to complete.

But Orange city officials, including Mayor Jess F. Perez, objected.

Perez Tuesday asked the supervisors for the report, saying the city is worried about becoming the county's "jail dumping ground." He also said a larger jail could damage business at the City shopping center and new commercial developments across the street from Lacy.

The county has been trying to find new jail space since a federal judge in 1985 found the supervisors and the sheriff in contempt of court for the overcrowding at the main men's jail in downtown Santa Ana.

Last year the supervisors picked a county-owned site near Anaheim Stadium for a 1,500-bed jail, but the City of Anaheim has sued to block construction.

Construction at the Anaheim site would cost an estimated $170 million, and state funds could not be used.

The Lacy expansion is estimated to cost $30 million, with most of the money coming from the state.

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