San Mateo County Replacement Jail, Project History
In 2004, the Jail Overcrowding Task Force (JOTF) was formed. The JOTF was comprised of members of the Board of Supervisors, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, Probation, County Manager, Courts, Private Defender, Service League, Police Chiefs Association and Health System. The JOTF was re-constituted as the Criminal Justice Committee after agreeing that at the very least, the Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) was in dire need of replacement.
In pursuit of the stated goal to replace WCC, the Sheriff's Office issued a Request for Proposals to conduct a needs assessment for the replacement of WCC. The firm of DMJM Design/AECOM was selected to conduct the needs assessment. In 2007, their report clearly stated the need to replace WCC. In 2007, as overcrowding at WCC and the Maguire Correctional Facility (MCF) worsened, an expanded needs assessment was conducted to do an analysis of our male population. The report was finished in early 2008 and recommended construction of 1579 new inmate beds to meet the 2026 planning horizon.
The Board of Supervisors accepted the completed needs assessment and the Sheriff's Jail Planning Unit (JPU) began to compile and study a list of potential sites for a replacement jail. Steps in this process included looking at County owned properties as well as reaching out to real estate brokers and the public for other available sites. In January, 2009, Liebert and Associates was retained to assist with the site selection process and assist in preparing a pre-architectural plan (functional plan) for the replacement jail. A set of sound criteria was developed, and the initial list of potential sites was narrowed with the Motor Pool and Adjacencies site topping the list. (The motorpool site is located on the County campus and close to the Hall of Justice (HOJ) - connectivity between the replacement jail and HOJ could be realized by an above or below grade connection).
Community outreach was conducted including public meetings, TV appearances, creation of Facebook and Twitter accounts, and a jail planning website. Additionally, the JPU and other Sheriff’s Office staff conducted multiple meetings with city officials, stake holders, non profit service providers, service clubs and local citizens based associations. Also, a Jail Planning Advisory Committee was formed. The significant amount of time expended by the Sheriff’s Office, coupled with the diligent and thorough efforts of Sheriff’s staff and others resulted in a comprehensive, open and transparent process that yielded a logical and defensible selection of the Motor Pool site as the preferred site for a replacement jail.
Chemical Way Site Revisited
Although the Motor Pool site was chosen as the most viable site through objective evaluation, Redwood City officials approached the County and Former Sheriff Munks in June, 2010, requesting they consider an alternative site for the replacement jail. The impetus of the request was to avoid building on the Motor Pool site which is in close proximity to downtown Redwood City. Redwood City officials requested we consider the site known as Chemical Way. The Chemical Way site is approximately 4.7 acres, located off Maple St. in Redwood City, east of Highway 101, and across the street from the Redwood City Police Headquarters and near WCC. This site was previously evaluated by the Jail Planning Unit but failed to make the viable list because of the owners’ unwillingness to sell. Through the collaborative spirit of the County and Former Sheriff Munks, the Chemical Way site was revisited, keeping in mind that if Chemical Way became unfeasible, the Motor Pool site remained a viable alternative.
The City of Redwood City hired an outside consulting firm (Sares-Regis) to facilitate the acquisition of the Chemical Way site with the ultimate goal of the property being transferred to the County. Liebert and Associates was retained to modify the existing pre-architectural plan specific to the Chemical Way site.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
It should be noted that the San Mateo County Planning Dept. was pivotal and efficient in coordinating the CEQA requirements for this project. After reviewing the Initial Study (IS) of the Chemical Way site (data compiled by TRA Environmental Services), San Mateo County filed a Notice of Intent to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND).The MND shows this project will not have a significant impact on the environment. After a 30 day review period (which ended Dec.9, 2010), no public comment on the replacement jail project was received. The Board of Supervisors then certified the MND and a Notice of Determination was filed. In addition, a detailed Site Management Plan was prepared by West Environmental Services. On Dec 30, 2010, the County closed escrow on the Chemical Way site. This accomplishment was realized through a collaborative effort between multiple entities, including: the Board of Supervisors, Sheriff’s Office, County Manager’s Office, Planning Dept., County Real Property, County Counsel, Dept.of Public Works, City of Redwood City, Sares-Regis Group and Randy Lee of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Groundbreaking and beyond
After the Chemical Way tenants vacated, a groundbreaking ceremony was held, then site remediation and demolition commenced. As of July 2013, foundation piles started and are expected to finish in Sep, 2013.Check back with this site regularly for updates and photos.