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Guest Column by Jack Duran re SPACF and Area Housing activity

This month I will report on the new South Placer Correctional Facility and the Area Housing Outlook

Phased Opening Coming for South Placer Adult Correctional Facility

Sitting beside Highway 65 in Roseville is the South Placer Adult Correctional Facility, the county’s brand new jail. The state-of-the-art facility is high tech and will enable the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the current jail in Auburn and will operate this one, to better manage a changing and growing inmate population.

Finished last year, the jail, although not in use, is currently being ramped up for occupancy in the next eight months.  Just like the rest of the area, Placer County suffered from revenue decreases when the economy took a large downturn and real estate values plummeted.  Those decreases dropped tax revenues into the county coffers and forced a careful evaluation of how the county would pay for the jail’s operation. Built with funds set aside for capital improvements, the facility is without any debt.

In the time between the approval to build the facility and its completion, the state of California passed Assembly Bill 109 that mandated counties house inmates who would normally go to state prison. This legislation, known as Realignment, has changed the overall personality of inmates in the county’s jail. Now, more than 40 percent of the inmates in the county jail are felons who a few years ago would have done their time in state prison.  This has brought a more sophisticated and dangerous inmate under county supervision. 

The Board of Supervisors recently approved a proposal from the Sheriff to phase the opening of the new jail and implement a funding plan to affect that opening.  The plan to open the South Placer facility will include the formation of a transition team to guide the process.  The first portion of the new jail to open will be the minimum security unit.  Minimum security inmates are currently housed in Auburn in what was originally a U.S. Army hospital warehouse built in 1941.  Another housing unit will also be opened in the new facility as part of the first phase.  

The Sheriff’s Office worked closely with the Board and County’s Executive Office to develop a funding plan that should allow the new jail to open next year.  The new Correctional Facility will enable the county to better deal with the increased number and sophistication of the inmates we are now housing.

Area Housing Purchase Activity Increases

The light at the end of the tunnel just might be getting brighter.

Seven years ago when the real estate market tanked in Placer County and the surrounding counties, homes were sold in foreclosure proceedings. In Roseville, with its many suburban areas, bank-owned homes and short sales became commonplace in every neighborhood, regardless of the median price of those homes. Homeowners who bought when the real estate market was good saw their home values drop far below what was owed on their mortgages; negative equity became commonplace. For many people, letting their home go into foreclosure was a grim and sometimes heart wrenching decision.

Placer County government was hit hard as well. As sales revenues dropped, tax revues fell as well. However, largely because of policies from the Board of Supervisors emphasizing long-term planning, cost containment and conservative budgeting. This gave the county flexibility to deal with revenue and cost fluctuations. We implemented a hiring freeze, mandatory time off and increased benefit cost sharing with employees. That resulted in few layoffs and allowed the county to largely maintain service levels.

In the past few months, there are indications that the economic downturn is on a decided uptick. It’s the reality of supply and demand, but I have watched with guarded optimism as inventories of available houses are down, which is pushing prices up. The number of delinquencies and notices of default are down, as well. While there are still many homes that have negative equity – more than 40 percent in one report -- that number too, is down. But I can’t help but feel optimistic as I see home values rising. That’s the important message.

Finally, as the winter slowly changes to nicer weather I’d like to recommend you visit one of the many agricultural amenities the County has to offer.  Visit one of the many outstanding vineyards, flower gardens, orchards and farmers markets.  Take a trip to one of the many fine Placer art houses, a museum or travel into the foothills to visit one of our historical landmarks - all these suggestions don’t cost very much, are great family outings - and they all support local businesses and our quality of life.

As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Placer County Supervisor. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me at (916) 787-8950 or by email at jduran@placer.ca.gov.

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