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Musick Madness - Part 4 (Musick in Context)

Among more than 20 projects funded by the State, Musick is larger, more expensive to build, closer to occupied space, and built on the most expensive land.

Because the State of California did such a poor job managing our prison system (e.g., 200% capacity, 70% recidivism), the State was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce the prison population, forcing at least 30,000 so-called “low level” criminals in State prisons to be transferred to County jails. Over the objections of several groups, including the California State Sheriff’s Association and the Public Policy Institute of California, the State’s response to this challenge is to spend Billions of dollars to expand the County jail system. Despite the fact that alternative measures were approved and recommended, almost all of the funds being spent will be spent on bricks and mortar solutions, a solution already known to be insufficient given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

As of September 2012, nearly two dozen building projects were in the works which, when completed, will mean more than 10,000 new beds for criminals in County jails. Here are some interesting factoids about these new projects and, more importantly for the citizens of Lake Forest, about the new jail that is going to be built on the grounds of Musick Jail.

Over the 20+ projects approved and funded by the State, the average number of beds being built is 456 (range 42 to 1270) and the average cost per bed is $186,035 (range $80,000 to $262,267).  The new Musick Jail addition is larger than average (512 vs. 456) and more expensive than average to build ($195,312 vs. $186,035).

Less than a third of the 20+ projects involve a new building. All the rest of the projects involve expanding or replacing an existing structure. Musick Jail is one of the few projects where a new building is being proposed.

Nearly two thirds of the 20+ projects involve maximum security inmates. As far as the State knows, Musick Jail does not involve maximum security inmates. The most recent State AB 900 progress report (Sept 2012) notes that Orange County is slated for “512 medium security beds and related ancillary space.” Only by reading the MOU between Lake Forest and the Sheriff do we learn that the Sheriff plans to place maximum security inmates into Musick, apparently unbeknownst to the State who is funding the project.

Most of the nearly two dozen projects are being built in relatively isolated areas, some miles away from the nearest home, business, or office building. Of all these projects, no project is being built closer to existing occupied spaced than Musick, which now abuts the commercial space along the North side of Bake Parkway and sits within 1,000 feet of residential property.

Most of the new projects are being built next to areas where the home prices are modest, to say the least. No other county is building or renovating any prison/jail structure that sits in a more expensive area than Musick Jail.  The average home price for homes closest to the new projects is slightly under $250,000. The average price of homes for sale near Musick is $602,078.

Here are the figures for the average home price for homes closest to the some of the proposed prison/jail additions -


• Orange County (Lake Forest) - $602,078
• Santa Barbara (Santa Maria) - $414,631
• Los Angeles (Castaic) - $353,057
• San Diego (Santee) - $281,505
• Solano (Fairfield) - $185,740
• Madera (Madera) - $99,969
• Calaveras (San Andreas) - $98,355
• Kern (Bakersfield) - $91,653
• San Bernardino (Adelanto) - $89,360

It should be clear to see that the Musick Jail project is an outlier. Compared to the rest of the AB 900 prisons construction projects, Musick Jail is more expensive on a cost per bed basis, proposes to add more inmates, proposes to build a stand-alone facility while others add or replace to existing buildings, is being built closest to existing occupied space, and is being built next to the most expensive homes in the State by more than double the value.

Orange County may need to expand its ability to handle inmates, but the selection of Musick Jail is a poor choice indeed.

Next week on December 11 the Board of Supervisors will consider ratifying the plans for Musick. There is still time to go to their website and voice your opposition, or show up at the meeting and testify against the move.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Andromeda December 06, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Again, Mr. Gardner, you are a wealth of information and knowledge. Practical knowledge that impacts our lives. But all you can do is send the message. Now others (especially those directly impacted) will have to make an effort on their own. You can only lead the horse to water. You cannot make him drink. I don't recall Sheriff Hutchens saying anything about the possibility of maximum level inmates being housed at Musick? Did she? If not, it is very disheartening that an elected Sheriff who is really sworn to integrity would omit disclosing such an critical option in her presentation before our citizens and Council. If she could be so forthcoming about her medical problems we would expect her to give us the truth about what possibities exist for Musick jail. I am so discouraged with the leadership that surrounds us. Is there any official out there who we can trust? Oh, and it will be VERY interesting to see how the 2 new councilmen vote on the second half of this item. They do take their seats for the first time at the Dec 11th meeting, do they not? Hmmm. That should be worth a watch. Without you none of us would know the rest of the story that's found in the fine print, Mr. Gardner. We are indebted to your service.
Jim Gardner December 07, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Yes. I believe there has been some deception here. When you study the Memorandum between the City and the Sheriff it's clear to me she intends to use Musick for maximum security criminals, yet this was specifically prohibited by the Board of Supervisors (her bosses). Moreover, the State who is funding this project doesn't seem to be aware of her intention to house maximum security criminals here. I asked our Supervisor, Pat Bates, for information to clarify these discrepancies but, to date, she has failed to reply. Bates, if you remember, was a big supporter Hutchen's "beds for feds" program. I plan to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting next week and confront Bates and the Sheriff with these issues, as well as bringing this up at the State level with the people who are funding this project. Stay tuned. It's not over.
Andromeda December 07, 2012 at 03:16 AM
God bless you for your honesty, Mr. Gardner. God bless you for doing what you can to protect your fellow citizens. You are an honorable man and deserving of our praise. However, it seems apparent that our esteemed leaders who are sworn AND PAID to keep us safe think it's perfectly fine to hoodwink us and FAIL to disclose the fine print in this contract between OCSD and Lake Forest that could possibly place our families in harm's way. That is unconsionable. What has happened to this society? Are we that far gone? Is there no one in high office that we can trust anymore? Do we always have to call them out after the fact and demand transparency as opposed to assuming that we are provided with full disclosure up front? This is no democracy or 'consent of the governed'. It is political gaming and pulling the wool over our eyes hoping that we will not learn the truth. All of this just frightens the bejeezus out of me. At times I don't even feel like I am living in the United States of America any longer! I feel like I'm in an occupied nation. :^(
Andromeda December 07, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Oh, btw, Mr. Gardner. Be very wary in your dealings with Pat Bates. She'll turn on a dime. And she'll back Hutchens to the hilt come hell or high water. She knows what side of her bread is buttered on and who puts it there for sure. As an example, Ms. Bates has outwardly been a big proponent of free speech and citizen involvement. She always touted how vital it is to listen to the taxpayers on matters surrounding government operations and to give us full latitude to express our grievances. Now just last Tuesday she voted to limit individual public speakers at the Supervisor's meetings to a total of NINE MINUTES of speaking time per meeting, reduced from 3 minutes speaking time per each agenda item. So Ms. Free Speech has suddenly turned into the Ms. Scrooge of free expression. So they change with the wind, Mr. Gardner. Jeckyl and Hyde depending on which day of the week you happen to see them. Instead of enforcing the rules on the books to prevent INDIVIDUAL speakers from talking off topic or being repetitive, Ms. Bates and 3 others decided to punish 3 million County residents for the act of one. Isn't that special? How's that for "consent of the governed" and "your public servant taxdollars at work"? heh. I guess their time is so much more valuable than ours. Next time I see one in person I won't forget to genuflect.
Valerie Parkhurst December 07, 2012 at 01:28 PM
"sucking up again Andromeda"? Why dont you impart to Mr. Gardener your real motives? You hope to gain his ear when it comes to "sex offender legislation" and your efforts to minimize the repercussions of these crimes and minimize the legislation that effects those who commit them" , c'mon Andromeda "tell Mr. Gardner your "tiring" stance on the pervert who has paid his debt to society and should be free to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities other law abiding citizens enjoy. Oh silly me, this forum didnt open that door with the "Because the State of California did such a poor job managing our prison system (e.g., 200% capacity, 70% recidivism), intro now did it?
Andromeda December 07, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Valerie, dear, why don't you give it a rest? Are you a one song band? There are some folks in America who desire that we implement Sharia law here. And I welcome their freedom of expression, just like I welcome yours. But please, put down your little hatchet and stay on topic. Why don't you buy property next to Musick jail so you can yell insults at all the sex offenders through the fence? Entertain us with that notion. Enjoy your weekend, dear.
Andromeda December 07, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Valerie, Your assignment tonight is to memorize this verse and sing it 3 times a day for the next 2 weeks: "My country,' tis of thee sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside let freedom ring!" Have a beautiful weekend, dear.
Andromeda December 07, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Oh, and btw, Valerie....for future reference. The author of this blog is named Gardner not "Gardener". He's not a landscaper. Go get some fresh air at the beach this weekend. It's supposed to be a little cloudy but fairly warm. But the air is very fresh and helps me greatly with my thinking patterns and processes.
Valerie Parkhurst December 08, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Thanks for the suggestion I already had plans to do just that..but its nice you have designated yourself as "Constituitonal Expert and now "spelling police"..so talented Andromeda..
Andromeda December 08, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Well, it's all up for interpretation, Valerie. Even the Supreme Court of the Land argue amongst themselves over what it all means. And those are supposed to be amongst the most brilliant minds we have on tap. Which gives me great pause for concern at times. But if I am going to error I am always going to error on the side of freedom and liberty. Why? Because I have first hand knowledge about how the other side of the spectrum lives and I want no part of that. But if you want to roll the dice, that's your business. I'll sit on the sidelines and watch.
Andromeda December 08, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Ya know, Mr. Gardner, in today's dollar and everything else being equal - I wonder how much that $602,000 home next to Musick will be worth after the expansion is completed and the jail is at the capacity limit of inmates to include the maximum security inmates? Whatdya think? $475,000? And I wonder how many of the fine folks who live on the perimeter of Musick have asked themselves that same question? And I wonder why a real estate expert wasn't invited to the Council meeting that addressed this issue to provide an expert opinion of what efffect an expansion into a maximum security prison would have on the adjacent property values? Or am I the only goofball who thinks this stuff up?
Jim Gardner December 08, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Hi I'm not a real estate expert but I know that when you sell a house you are required to reveal relevant details. The outside perimeter of Musick is about 1,000 feet from the nearest home, so whether or not that is within the sphere of influence for reporting I don't know. Up until 2010 Musick was strictly used for minimum security prisoners. Starting in 2010 with the "beds for feds" program the severity increased and with the new plans it will now include maximum security prisoners, although they will be housed on the other side of the complex, probably placing them about 1/2 mile from the nearest house. If this is an item that requires disclosure, I think you're right that the price will go down a lot. Moreover, if this required disclosure and people who sold already or have their home for sale, and didn't disclose, would be open for law suits for hiding a material fact.
Andromeda December 08, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Mr. Gardner, whether disclosure is required or not, most buyers research a piece of property before they make the purchase. Half a million dollars or more is quite an investment for the average bear. They examine the schools (if they have kids), access to shopping, whether abandoned shopping carts line the sidewalks, some will examine crime data for that neighborhood, some may even talk with the neighbors to get a feel for what they're getting themselves into. Now think about this for a second. If they see a 12 foot fence with rolls of barbed wire situated on the top of said fence what would they think is housed there? The US Mint for the Western Region? Let me ask you specifically. If you were new to the area and considered buying property around Musick (unbeknowst to you), and you observed such a spectacle (fence with barbed wire) up the street would you inquire further? Do you think that might either be a deal breaker or a huge bargaining chip? In my unprofessional opinion one doesn't have to be a real estate expert to come to a reasonable conclusion that living next to a prison, let alone a prison under current expansion and available to maximum security criminals, would in all likelihood be a NEGATIVE and not a positive for the seller in a real estate negotiation. Now, don't you think the real estate equation should have been publicly discussed and examined by our Council leaders when this matter was voted on?
Jim Gardner December 08, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Hi, The good news for home owners in that area is that Musick is well hidden. Most of it is behind the automotive shops along Bake Pkwy east of Trabuco. There are only a few dozen feet on fencing where one gets a glimpse of the Musick Jail, and then those few feet overlook empty fields. From my reading of the expansion plans, this will remain the same, so one would not immediately notice the Jail and if you even looked in that direction you would still see the empty fields. Nonetheless I do agree with you that someone should have done some research on the impact on home values. When I did my own very informal study of the other projects it looked as if home values went up even 1,000 or so feet that you got further away from the other jails.
Andromeda December 08, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Mr. Gardner, whenever I drive past Musick on Bake I can clearly see the fence with the razor wire bundled on top. To me it's pretty obvious that it's a correctional facility of some sort. If I planned to buy property in that area I would surely notice it. And I would inquire into it. Wouldn't you? I am only saying that having a prison in the neighborhood would be a HUGE bargaining chip for the buyer and a big negative for the seller. That's only common sense. The only hope for the seller would be that the buyer would not to have any knowledge of the jail facility and that there were no disclosure laws requiring verbal or written disclosure of such. In that case, after the fact there would very possibly be a disgruntled buyer in the neighborhood once he or she found out. Naturally, comps are one of the main buying tools - but most would want to know IN ADVANCE if they were moving next to a prison for sure. And nearly all of us could agree on that. Of course values would increase the further the property was away from the prisons, up to a certain point. People get excited about living next to a prison about as much as they would look forward living next to a pulp mill. So your research only makes perfect sense.
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 06:41 AM
"I plan to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting next week and confront Bates and the Sheriff with these issues, as well as bringing this up at the State level with the people who are funding this project. Stay tuned. It's not over." Well, I wish ya luck, Mr Gardner. But once the contract was approved & executed by the Council I think Lake Forest is toast as far as the Musick expansion is concerned. The heavy lifting should really have been done at that meeting. Unfortunately from here on in it's all damage control and trying to undo what has already been done. The only shade of hope I see would be for the City of Irvine to appeal the recent ruling by the Courts. And from my understanding that decision must be forthcoming in the near future. I heard that Sukhee Kang from the Irvine Council will appear at the Supervisor's meeting to speak on Item 32, apparently as you plan to do. But from my previous observations whatever the Sheriff wants the Sheriff gets. The public safety unions have incredible power over the puppets on the Board. If you don't believe me watch them give away the farm as a result of the collective bargaining negotiations currently ongoing. The problem is that the taxpayers really don't have anyone representing us at the table. Oh, in spirit we do. But not in reality. ;^) Give 'em hell on Tuesday. You get 3 minutes. If you paid $3000 in property taxes that's $1000 per minute. Make it count. :^)
Andromeda December 11, 2012 at 08:42 PM
You gave it the old college try, Mr. Gardner. But as I expected, with a unanimous 5-0 Duma vote, whatever you said fell upon deaf ears. You must understand something. The County Duma always backs the County Polizei, legally, financially and morally. Even when there is deception and failure to disclose material facts to the citizens of Lake Forest about the expansion of a jail in their backyard. And our Council is obviously complicit - as you saw today with McCullough and Herzog. For Herzog to appear after getting popped on a DUI just last month shows me that he really has no shame. Perhaps he will get leniency from the justice system for supporting the expansion of Musick? Who knows? Nothing really surprises me anymore. You are working within a system that has no respect for the ones who finance it, Mr. Gardner. We are walking ATM's at best. Like children, we are better seen and not heard. It's a giant cabal that feigns acting in the best interest of the taxpayers - their source of funds. I commend you for showing up. But it was a stacked deck and you had no chance of a winning hand in that house of horrors.
Jim Gardner December 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Thanks. Yes it was a stacked deck and the outcome was already decided before I testified. However, I wanted it on record that the Supervisors were aware that the County had contracted with the State for 524 medium security inmates only and were not living up to their agreement and, in fact, were putting in 32 beds for MAXIMUM security inmates and well as establishing policy for admitting MAXIMUM security inmates. I plan to take my evidence to the California Attorney General as well as the Department of Corrections. I'm not a lawyer so I can't tell you whether or not the Supervisors and the Sheriff are knowingly breaking the law. All I can do is report the incident and supply the evidence. It was good to see that the City of Irvine continues on their quest to stop the Musick expansion. They will meet shortly to see if they will appeal the recent decision against them. You're right about Herzog, He has no shame. He reported that no one objected to the MOU when he knew perfectly well that the City Manager and everyone involved had assured our citizens that no MAXIMUM security inmates would be at Musick. Without the threat of more serious criminals, there was no protest. But this was the result of mis-information, as I pointed out in my articles about Musick and the MOU.
Andromeda December 11, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Yes, I think the only shot we have is for Irvine to continue the litigation against the Musick expansion. Based on Campbell's comments during the discussion and the written statement delivered to the Board of Supervisors by Irvine's leaders - it seems probable that Irvine will step up to the plate once again and try to put the kabash on it. At least Irvine supports it's own citizens. And since Irvine has it's own police department and no intimate ties to the Sheriff or OCSD - it's make it that much easier for them to fight Musick. Let's face it - both the City of Lake Forest and the Supervisors are in deep in the sack with the Sheriff and OSCD. And I would be VERY surprised if you get any cooperation from the CA Attorney General or the DOC on this matter. The Board of Supervisors should be renamed to the "Board of Puppets".
Valerie Parkhurst December 12, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Mr Gardner I am a real estate expert neighborhoods with a disproportinate amount of sex offenders have an average depreciation of 19% over neighborhoods with stronger sex offender legislation...add to that a designated sexual predator depreciates it another 3 %...while Miss Andomeda wants to dazzle you with "city business" her ultimate goal is far something more sinister..why dont you ask her???
Andromeda December 12, 2012 at 04:09 AM
It's doubtful that you could possibly be as ignorant in person as you appear on these boards, Valerie. So I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I am just going to assume that you have a few problems in your life that make you act out once in awhile on comment boards but that overall you're a decent person. Are you singing "My Country Tis of Thee" 3 times a day? If not, try it. It might help restore some balance. Enjoy your evening. Isn't American Idol on tonight? Now I bet that's a show that you could really enjoy.
Jim Gardner December 27, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Some good news from the City of Irvine. Their City Council met on Dec 18 and voted unanimously to proceed with the appeal and to do whatever else was needed (including possibly a new law suit) to prevent the expansion of Musick. Bear in mind that Irvine doesn't even have any residential housing near the Musick Jail, while our homes are within 1,000 feet of the Jail. Yet out City Council voted unanimously to roll over and approve the expansion.

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