the right idea comes along at the wrong time.
the case with state Sen. Jeff
Denham’s plan to sell the San Quentin Prison site for enough money to build
a new Death Row and contribute a sizable chunk to the general fund as well.
Merced County Republican, and declared candidate for lieutenant governor, has
pitched this idea before. Ridding
the state of surplus property has been a theme for him from practically the
time he took office in 2003.
year, he’s behind a 10-bill package designed to get California “off
its lazy assets,” as he put it, including:
28 would require the decommissioning San Quentin and selling the 432
acres in Marin
County, which Denham
values at $2 billion;
29 would require the sale of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and
Sports Arena land parcel, which Denham believes would bring $240 million
to $400 million
30 would direct the Department of General Services to identify at
least $1 billion in additional state property that could be sold
immediately to help close the state’s budget deficit. It would
require all state agencies to evaluate whether leasing back the space they
current occupy or finding “more cost-effective space” would save
the state money.
Quentin proposal drew a lot of attention last
week when the Senate Committee on Public Safety put the bill on hold.
That’s probably because in the current climate, any proposal that would bring in
as little as an extra dime is going to get a more serious look than it has in
Chairman Mark Leno said the bill was held because of a standing policy to hold
any bills that would increase prison crowding. That’s sound policy in the
much is the receiver going to make us spend” climate.
isn’t sound policy: The state’s commitment to sinking $400 million into
expanding San Quentin even though the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office
has serious concerns.
about the cost of the new Death Row complex, and the possible effect of inmate
population limits at the prison, should be resolved before the Legislature
considers the project further,” an
LAO report says.
least, the Legislature needs to know what construction estimates have tripled
in five years, the report continues.
the first time the LAO has questioned the project. The office also recommended
scrapping it in 2007, in response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget at
when it comes to selling San Quentin, Leno has a point about not increasing
prison crowding right now, and Denham’s timing for the sale isn’t exactly
Marin County real estate
prices have tumbled right along with the rest of the state and, combined
with the questionable waiver of environmental laws Denham wants to bestow on
whoever buys the property, it could add up to a bit of a giveaway for the