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Placer Co. hits another stumbling block regarding Burton Creek Substation

Facilities partnership between sheriff's office, AOC not active
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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The Placer County Board of Supervisors hit a snag in plans to replace the aging Burton Creek Substation holding facility when it learned Wednesday a collaborative effort with the Administrative Office of the Courts fell through.

Jennifer Montgomery, chairman of the Placer County Board of Supervisors, said the Administrative Office of the Courts will move forward with buying a piece of property for a new court facility, but the piece of property would not be big enough to include the sheriff's office and substation.

"While we've long had a vision of sharing facilities with California courts that is no longer on the books," Montgomery said.

The 2011-2012 Placer County Grand Jury report released this week addresses the Burton Creek Substation. The report gives a pass to the conditions in all other holding facilities investigated in the county except for the Burton Creek Substation, which the report refers to as "potentially dangerous to staff, prisoners and the public."

This is the 17th year the grand jury has recommended the holding facility be replaced. According to the report, it was built prior to 1960 and does not meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and is not outfitted with a sprinkler system.

"The grand jury report is valid and we do need to address this issue, but it is taking much, much longer than anyone could have anticipated," Montgomery said Wednesday.

Teresa Ruano, communications specialist for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said while the office was originally looking at two sites, only one is viable at this point. The two-acre Dollar Hill site is being considered for the courthouse facilities, but Ruano could not say how much that piece of land cost.

Dena Erwin, public information officer with the sheriff's office, said the office would not make a statement regarding the Burton Creek Substation or the condition of the facility.

Montgomery indicated that if the funds were acquired to build a new holding facility, the existing one would have to be torn down, pushing the current operations to another location until a new one was erected.

That can't happen until the Administrative Office of the Courts moves on and constructs its new facility on the parcel of land that is too small to include the sheriff's office, Montgomery said. According to Montgomery, only enough money to purchase the land has been obtained at this time, not design and construct the building.

"Our long-term vision at the county is still to build something at Burton Creek. We already own the property and it makes absolutely no sense to buy another piece at this point, but as long as the courts are there we can't do anything until they've moved," Montgomery said.

According to the grand jury report, the Administrative Office of the Courts did not project the courthouse portion of the facility to be completed before 2015.

Ruano said that the office is facing significant cuts in next year's budget, meaning that any projects in the process of acquiring property, like the courthouse, face uncertain futures.

The report continues to state that "the county has simply replaced its previous excuse for not moving on the Burton Creek issue-money-with a new excuse-bureaucracy."

While the report ultimately recommends the Placer County Board of Supervisors act on replacing the Burton Creek Substation holding facility, Montgomery said all of the components of that puzzle have not fallen into place yet.

"It's like moving a Rubik's cube around. We've got to make sure all of the pieces work together," Montgomery said.

Reach Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com.