Neighbors Oppose Jail at Tustin Air Station Site : Land use: Supervisors are to consider a county staff proposal for detention and training facilities. Residents prefer recreational uses.
Residents and business owners expressed opposition Friday to a county staff proposal before the Board of Supervisors to build prisoner housing, a juvenile hall and a police training center at the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station when it closes.
“Whether it’s a detention facility or jail, I don’t want it, period.” said Angie Kardashian a local restaurant owner. “I don’t want a prison in my back yard, and the base pretty much is in my back yard.”
Guido Borges, former president of the Laurelwood Homeowners Assn., a community just half a mile from the base, said: “We’re concerned about public safety. Plus, it will negatively affect our property values.”
Kardashian and Borges both sit on the 17-member task force that was created in February, 1992, to help draft plans for future uses of the base, which is scheduled to close in 1997. Their comments echoed a survey last year in which the community overwhelmingly opposed a jail or a detention facility.
In the survey of 30,000 residents and business owners, a jail and a detention facility were among the top five least-wanted facilities. The others were a landfill, industrial and manufacturing complex, and an airport.
The top five land uses most favored were parks, recreational facilities, schools and other educational facilities and senior citizen housing.
Under the plan which goes before the supervisors on Tuesday, the county would ask the Department of Defense for permission to build a jail for prisoners who are released on work furlough during the day, a juvenile hall, an alcohol rehabilitation center and a law enforcement training facility.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Thomas F. Riley said there is a need for such facilities in the county, although the public may have different views on where they should be.
In December, the task force, made up of public agency, community and business representatives, opposed a county proposal for a training center for police and firefighters, saying that it will not be compatible with surrounding land uses.
But while the training center was rejected, another county proposal to use to the land for residential health facilities, temporary housing, and emergency shelter for children under the care of the Department of Social Services was endorsed by the task force.
The task force, however, can only recommend potential uses for the base. The Defense Department, which owns the land, has the final authority.
Under federal law, the Defense Department must screen requests from federal, state and local agencies for surplus military property before such properties are sold to private developers. Some nonprofit groups also may request to use the properties.
Borges, who has served on the task force for more than a year now, said that he was not surprised by the latest proposal.
“The public agencies just want to line up and submit their applications to be considered,” he said. “It’s part of the process. It does not mean they will get what they want.”
Thomas Bennan, executive director of the Tustin Chamber of Commerce, said the “businessman in me says that a prison may not be that bad, but certainly there are far better uses for the land.”
Tustin city officials said that about 300 acres of the base’s 1,620 acres will be given or sold at discounted prices to public agencies, nonprofit groups and Native American tribes. The rest will be sold to private developers to pay for Marine relocation and to build roads, sewer lines and other infrastructure.
The value of the land could reach between $386 million and $611 million by 1998, according to city officials. The property taxes and sales tax from future businesses will make the base an economic asset to the city of Tustin.
“What would a prison provide us?” Borges asked.
In November, 1992, the federal Bureau of Prisons requested 250 acres to 1,000 acres of the base for a federal prison, which authorities estimated would create 800 jobs. The task force also opposed that proposal.
“Anything that you put in there will provide jobs,” said Kardashian. “A commercial center could also put people to work. (But) having a jail is dangerous.”