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Thread: Prison or mixed used community?

  1. #1
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    Prison or mixed used community?

    With regards to the Planetizen contributed news article, Prison or Mixed Use Community?

    The land where San Quentin State Prison sits today would command a high price if the prison were to vacate. The prison's location, chosen in the 1850's, was due to the proximity of the Bay. California territorial inmates were held on a ship moored just offshore and they helped build the first building of the prison complex.

    Today, generally speaking, San Quentin serves as a classification/intake center for the California Department of Corrections. In other words, unlike the old days, most inmates don't spend a long time incarcerated at that particular facility, but rather they are evaluated after their convictions and eventually shifted to some other facility in the system. However, the condemned inmate population is housed at San Quentin and they need a new cell house, for both capacity as well as security purposes.

    The proximity of San Quentin to San Francisco (home of the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) is what necessitates keeping these inmates in place. Also, the communities around other prisons (such as Folsom) which could hypothetically accept relocation of these inmates have said flat out, they don't want to be the "death row" town mentioned in the media.

    I say keep San Quentin for the function it serves now.

    Some other states, such as Virginia and Ohio demolished their "signature" penitentiaries for redevelopment, but relocation of inmates was not a big problem, for they were moved about an hour away from the former locations. Today, the former Richmond site of the Virginia State Penitentiary is the headquarters for the Ethyl Chemical Corp. and the former Columbus site of the Ohio State Penitentiary is home to the Nationwide Arena.

    From a planning perspective - it would be difficult to really accomodate a sizeable influx of condos and new development. San Quentin is right on the rocks and the roads in and out are limited. The neighbors who are living there would be priced right out of the market, despite optimistic projections to the contrary by developers.

  2. #2
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    EZ-Pass,

    You are missing a huge chunk of the issue here. The arguments for keeping San Quentin in place pale in comparison to the regional benefits of creating a mixed-use transportation center/neighborhood. Living 2 miles away from the site (as opposed to reading an article in VA and regurgitating its contents) and as a planner familiar with transportation and housing issues, I can tell you several things:

    -the roads in and out are not limited and can readily be updated(there is a highway right next to the site and another highway within one mile);
    -the land provides a much needed multi-modal transportation terminal for ferries and the proposed commuter rail for the North Bay (SMART);
    -the costs of maintaining the prison are sky-high;
    -the financial benefits of selling the land need to be further analyzed (including drafting possible settlement patterns and housing densities) to ascertain just how much money can be raised for relocating prisoners;
    -workers at San Quentin live far, far away from the prison. Be rational about this, the prison should be located where its workers can afford to live; and,
    -this entire process has been rushed to an unprecedented degree. There is too much to gain from a regional transportation standpoint, low-income housing, tax revenues, etc. to justify the state rushing to build the death row and keeping San Quentin open.

    EZ-Pass. This is a pretty thick issue. The articles that have been cropping up on San Quentin have barely scraped the surface. I would encourage you to take a deeper look at this.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally posted by Mobyred
    EZ-Pass,

    You are missing a huge chunk of the issue here. The arguments for keeping San Quentin in place pale in comparison to the regional benefits of creating a mixed-use transportation center/neighborhood. Living 2 miles away from the site (as opposed to reading an article in VA and regurgitating its contents) and as a planner familiar with transportation and housing issues, I can tell you several things:

    -the roads in and out are not limited and can readily be updated(there is a highway right next to the site and another highway within one mile);
    -the land provides a much needed multi-modal transportation terminal for ferries and the proposed commuter rail for the North Bay (SMART);
    -the costs of maintaining the prison are sky-high;
    -the financial benefits of selling the land need to be further analyzed (including drafting possible settlement patterns and housing densities) to ascertain just how much money can be raised for relocating prisoners;
    -workers at San Quentin live far, far away from the prison. Be rational about this, the prison should be located where its workers can afford to live; and,
    -this entire process has been rushed to an unprecedented degree. There is too much to gain from a regional transportation standpoint, low-income housing, tax revenues, etc. to justify the state rushing to build the death row and keeping San Quentin open.

    EZ-Pass. This is a pretty thick issue. The articles that have been cropping up on San Quentin have barely scraped the surface. I would encourage you to take a deeper look at this.

    Points all well taken. My familiarity only comes as close as seeing the prison on what appeared to be a rocky outcropping from northbound on the 101 Freeway.

    What sort of use do you envision occurring if the prison were to be closed and property sold? That land would command a very high price indeed.

  4. #4
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    Bump from PLANetizen forum.

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