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County Financing Agency Vote Advances Otay Mesa Jail Plans

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The San Diego County Regional Justice Financing Agency, after an often stormy debate, Thursday approved a joint memorandum of understanding developed by the city and county of San Diego that calls for construction of a $6-million jail on city-owned land in Otay Mesa.

The vote was needed to qualify the project for Proposition A sales-tax revenue funds. However, the sales-tax funds won’t immediately be available because of a court action that challenges the constitutionality of Proposition A, the urban growth initiative.

The proposed facility would house inmates charged with misdemeanors who have not made a court appearance. The city now plans to negotiate a contract with a private company to build and operate the jail. It would eventually be transferred to the county.

County and city officials agreed on the memorandum of understanding late in March. The city has argued that the jail is needed because there are no facilities to house those charged with misdemeanors.

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San Diego County Sheriff John Duffy, who also serves on the financing agency, has been pushing the county and the financing agency to bypass the misdemeanor jail and instead focus on one for felons.

Duffy has argued that “we may very well find ourselves in this situation where we’re housing misdemeanants that are now on the street, while at the same time the court has ordered us to release serious felons onto the street.”


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