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Santa Ana’s Mayor Seeks to Bar New Jails From All Cities

Times Staff Writer

Concerned about a ballot initiative that would restrict future county jail construction to Santa Ana, that city’s mayor, Dan Young, on Monday outlined an alternative measure that would keep new jails out of all cities in Orange County.

Young’s initiative would restrict any new jail to territory that is unincorporated as of Dec. 31, 1988. It also would prohibit the county from building a jail within a mile of any school built by that date.

“We in Santa Ana . . . have watched the political gamesmanship . . . and the political gimmicks of the Anaheim Hills elitists,” said Young, referring to Taxpayers for a Centralized Jail, the sponsoring group of the initiative that designates Santa Ana as the home of any new county jails.

“My initiative . . . protects every city in Orange County from the same type of arbitrary action,” he said.

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One of Three Candidates

Young is one of three candidates running in November to become Santa Ana’s first popularly elected mayor. His political foes accused Young on Monday of timing his proposal to gain attention and voter support for his mayoral bid.

Young denied that, saying that the recent qualification of the centralized jail initiative made it wise to mount a counteroffensive.

North county residents began their initiative campaign last year after the county Board of Supervisors voted to build a sorely needed, 6,000-bed jail in Gypsum Canyon, an uninhabited--and unincorporated--area east of Anaheim Hills.

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The group submitted 112,000 signatures on petitions for the initiative last month. County Counsel Adrian Kuyper is preparing a report on its projected impact.

The Board of Supervisors has indicated that it will probably place the measure on the June, 1990, ballot at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Young hopes to collect the 65,110 signatures needed to qualify his initiative for the same ballot. He conceded that the centralized jail initiative has a good chance of passing, but he said his initiative could gain even more votes because it is “good public policy and good politics.”

“Since it (the centralized jail initiative) does put a jail in somebody else’s city, it may have some attractiveness there,” Young said. “But we will be enlisting the support of all cities in Orange County.”

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The mayor of at least one of those cities thought Young’s initiative is a good idea. “It makes a lot of sense,” Tustin Mayor Richard B. Edgar said. “The concept of putting the jail right in the middle of a community is not attractive.”

Keep Jails ‘Away From Schools’

Supervisor Roger R. Stanton, whose district includes Santa Ana, said Young’s initiative is consistent with his own position “to keep jails out of neighborhoods and away from schools.”

But Fullerton Mayor Richard C. Ackerman said Young’s initiative “doesn’t sound well thought out. . . . I think all cities need to be part of a solution. There will be a need in the future (for more jails).”

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Anaheim council member Irv Pickler, an outspoken opponent of the board’s selection of the Gypsum Canyon site, said Young is “protecting his turf, and that’s what he’s supposed to do. . . . But I still feel that the central jail has been down in the county center for umpteen years, and they have land down there to do what we have to do.”

Howard Garber, a member of the north county group, accused Young of “attempting to intimidate other communities. They’re saying that if our initiative is successful, they will consider placing the jail facility very close to adjacent cities. . . . The whole idea of the proposal is to place it close to the courthouse.”

One of Young’s opponents for mayor, George Hanna, said Young’s initiative is “strictly politically motivated.” He said Young and the City Council missed a chance to take a strong stand against a centralized jail last year when a Santa Ana residents group circulated petitions for a local measure to keep the jail out of Santa Ana.

And Santa Ana council member John Acosta said he circulated a memo to the council in October proposing an initiative similar to the one Young offered Monday. “I’m elated that the light bulb finally came on, but it’s a day late and a dollar short,” said Acosta, whose proposal would have barred jail construction within a mile of a residential area or educational facility.

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“I’m very supportive of it--John Acosta first thought of it,” he said about Young’s proposal.

Young, however, said his proposal “is not a city council initiative, but a citizens initiative,” adding that the Santa Ana residents group “dropped the ball” when it abandoned its petition drive.

The seven-member City Council voted unanimously Monday night to support Young’s proposal.

Time to Qualify

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As for the allegation that he is coming to the issue late, Young answered that there was no need to put a counter-initiative on the ballot until it was certain that the centralized jail initiative would qualify--and there is plenty of time to qualify for the June, 1990, ballot.

County Registrar of Voters Donald F. Tanney said Young would have 180 days from the time he submits the initiative for approval to gather the signatures he would need from voters.


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