San Diego

County Starts First Phase of $240 Million Juvenile Hall Campus Rebuild

Supervisors say new buildings and new programs will help reduce crime

The County Board of Supervisors took the first step in a long-term project to rebuild the county’s aging and outdated juvenile detention facility.

The $240 million project will replace the current Juvenile Hall, juvenile probation offices and other buildings in Kearny Mesa. The Juvenile Hall building is more than 50 years old.

According to the county’s Juvenile Justice Campus Master Plan, the first phase of this multi-year project is estimated to cost $130 million. It includes construction of a 128-bed “Juvenile Camp," with an intake and medical building, visitation center, food service and dining hall, classrooms and a recreation center.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts told NBC 7 it’s more than a construction project.

"You're going to see different, segregated sections, (holding) some kids who will be there hopefully for just a day or two,” Roberts explained. “Other kids may have to be (in custody) longer, so these (juveniles) won’t have to all be in the same place.”

Roberts acknowledged that the projected $240 million total cost of the three-phase project, which includes demolition of other, older housing units, and a new building for the Juvenile Probation staff is “a lot of money” but Roberts said the projected reduction in custody time and recidivism will save both money and lives in the long run.

County staff also said the project will create 1,500 construction jobs, beginning as soon as April, 2020.

Roberts says the new campus will also be a better fit for the neighborhood, with outside recreation areas moved away from residential streets to reduce noise levels.

Nearby homes will be shielded from parking areas, so vehicle headlights won’t shine in nearby homes during shift changes, Roberts said.

Traffic improvements include new signals at the intersections of Vista Hill Avenue and Meadow Lark Drive, and Starling Drive and Meadow Lark.

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