Decision Needed Soon for California Jail Land Deal

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — The cost of the land that San Mateo County is looking to buy for a new jail could increase by nearly $500,000 unless an agreement is reached soon, according to reports.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will consider accepting a purchase option agreement for four properties spanning 4.1 acres. Officials hammered out the deal to give Sheriff Greg Munks an alternative site for constructing a 768-bed correctional center. They feared the sheriff’s preferred site on the county’s main campus would cripple efforts to revitalize the nearby downtown area. Munks said the new jail is needed to reduce chronic overcrowding in the county’s existing facilities.

The land deal would total $17.4 million, including an estimated $2.25 million for relocation costs for existing tenants, though it could go as high as $17.9 million if supervisors delay closing the deal.

If supervisors assume the city’s purchase option, they face a December 27 deadline to declare their intent to close the property or must pay $475,000 on top of the land costs to extend the purchase window. Even if supervisors approve the land purchase, they still have not said how they will pay for the estimated $150 million needed to build the jail or the $32 million-a-year cost of running it at full capacity.