Construction of Redwood City jail met with mixed opinions

Steve Perotti, TSV Staff Writer

Redwood City businesses, both small and corporate, will soon be sharing their work environments with a new county facility: a jail. Though some are viewing the counties newest corrective institution with a positive outlook, there are others who don’t agree with the choice of locales.

The new jail, which will consolidate run off and overpopulation from other county correctional facilities, is set to open in 2015. The primary facility that will be benefiting from this larger, and more modern jail, is the Redwood City women’s facility. With over 680 beds available, the antiquated women’s correctional facility will then close its doors and be reprocessed for other county needs. Though county officials claim that the presence of a new jail is warranted, some Redwood City residents are curious about the location of construction.

Located on 1300 Maple St. in Redwood City, the new jail will sit directly across the street from the Redwood City Police Department. Exactly one mile from the ongoing construction sits the San Mateo County Sherifs office. Adjacent to the prison is the Bayshore Freeway, and Highway 101. Across the overpass from the construction is Veterans Boulevard, a main street less than half a mile from the prison grounds.

Juan Morales, an employee of Party City located in the Veteran’s Square shopping center, is curious why the county chose to build so close to areas that will be heavily populated.

“It seems a little strange, you know, building so close to the highway like that,” Morales said. “I know it’s across the street from the cops and all, but what if something does happen? Just seems like a bad idea to me.”

Michael Davis, a salesman at Hoot Judkins furniture in Veteran’s Square, thinks the county should be spending its money in better ways, rather than thinking about the comforts of criminals.

“I know this is costing the county over $100 million, and instead of putting the money into fixing roads or pouring it into local schools, they’re using it to build another prison,” Davis said. “I wanna know why? Why is the county paying for this? Is the state gonna cover any of this cost, or is the city gonna be stuck with the check for this thing when it’s all said and done?”

Anita Nelson, a part-time employee of K-Mart, feels unsafe at the thought of the prison being so close to work.

“Why would they build it so close to a busy area like this? Aren’t they worried about the normal people out here, or are they only thinking about the ones that are going to be in there?” Nelson said.

Critical Resistance, an anti-prison group, is leading the cries against the construction of the new prison. Roger White, the campaign director for the group, stated in an email that the county didn’t get the approval of the state prior to breaking ground on the construction.

“San Mateo County didn’t follow the guidelines set forth by the Board of State and Community Corrections when they decided to build at that site,” White said. “I don’t see the board giving them any money to lighten the burden when they dove in head first without following the rules.”

Greg Munks, the Sheriff of San Mateo County, was unavailable for comment via email or telephone at the time of this article going to print. The Sheriff, in numerous press releases, has cited that the jail isn’t a simple improvement, but a necessity one for the county as a whole.