Santa Barbara County Jail Project Awaits State Approval

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Now that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors awarded construction contracts in early July for the Northern Branch jail in Santa Maria, final state approval is required before continuing with plans to build the facility. That includes review by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), State Public Works Board and Pooled Money Investment Board.

The $77.7 million construction bid package was awarded to Costa Mesa, Calif.-based SJ Amoroso Construction Inc., and locally based Spiess Construction Co. Inc. was awarded the $2.9 million bid package for off-site utility and road improvement work, according to Noozhawk.

The project will include 376 beds, 32 of which will be medical and mental-health beds located in a specialized housing unit, according to the Santa Barbara County website. The jail will be built on a portion of the 50-acre property previously acquired by the county.

The total project budget for the Northern Branch Jail was estimated to be $96.1 million, but it is now $110.86 million due to high construction bids. Funded primarily by a conditional award of $80 million from the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), the county has a 10 percent match requirement. The agreement documents between the county and state for the conditional award was approved by the County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 15, 2013 and by the California State Public Works Board (SPWB) on Feb. 11, 2013.

Supervisors already voted to eliminate a major portion of the jail complex, a 228-bed facility for medical and mental-health treatment and re-entry programs, because of the estimated $2 million in annual costs required for operations. In January, the county officially gave back the $40 million state grant award for the complex, as it was a separate grant from the $80 million grant for the jail.

The jail project is currently scheduled for completion in March 2019, according to Noozhawk, and state contracts require that the jail be operational within 90 days of that time.