Local juvenile hall plan moves forward
The concept of a juvenile hall facility in South Lake Tahoe, always tentative and fleeting in the past, is starting to take solid shape.
On Tuesday the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $15,000 Needs Assessment for the proposed facility. The county will now enter into discussions with the South Lake Tahoe Unified School District to ultimately acquire property adjacent to the existing jail facility.
“What this all means is that we’re now ready to move forward,” said Fifth District Supervisor Dave Solaro, who has spearheaded the push for a facility at South Shore. “With the approval of the needs assessment, we’re now ready to apply for a (State Board of Corrections) grant. It’s important to get all of your ducks in a row before you do that.”
The Needs Assessment will allow the county to hire an architect to develop and plan for the facility and determine how much it will cost. It also allows General Services to begin the application process with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for the Land Capability Analysis and Construction Permits. The parcel being eyed by the county is adjacent to the current adult jail facility on Johnson Boulevard, and is owned by the South Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
Also, the Probation Department is now preparing a Letter of Intent for the Board of Corrections to enter their grant process. The proposed facility would include 20 to 30 beds and cost in the neighborhood of $5 million. A major portion of the funding would be obtained through the state grant. There would be matching funds required if the county were awarded a grant for construction.
The next grant application period is in the fall of 2000.
“Although pending approval is still about a year away, it’s important for people to know that we’re moving ahead with this,” Solaro said. “The community has made it known that they want this facility, and we’re determined to see it through.”
According to Solaro and other South Lake Tahoe government officials, a juvenile hall at South Shore has been a pressing need for some time. Juvenile offenders at South Shore must currently be transported to Placerville – a proposition which is time consuming and cost ineffective.
“Also there are county programs which involve parent participation, and many times South Shore residents cannot participate due to the travel involved,” Solaro said.
Also, the Placerville facility is overcrowded. The county’s only Juvenile Hall has been working under a court-ordered capacity cap of 40 juvenile inmates, but at times there are as many as 49 juveniles being held there.
“The recent Grand Jury report detailed the need for a new facility in South Lake Tahoe,” said Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury. “The need is acute in my opinion.”
In April, the county presented the California State Board of Corrections with an $8.15 million grant proposal to fund the construction of a new Juvenile Hall in Placerville. That request was denied, however, and the county will try again for the grant next year. However, a separate $750,000 challenge grant proposal for a day-use facility in South Lake Tahoe was approved.
South Tahoe’s challenge grant also includes a $455,000 matching fund proposal from the county, bringing the total new funding to $1.2 million. The funds will be used to create a juvenile day-use school and counseling facility, at a site in South Shore to be determined.
According to the Grand Jury report, the Lake Tahoe area accounts for as much as 30 percent of the juvenile ward population at the Placerville facility.
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