Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/12/2010 05:55:01 PM PDT

CHINO – A bill making its way through Sacramento would allow unused state land around California Institution for Men to be used for commercial and industrial development.

Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, is sponsoring the bill that could also provide for upgrades to the state prison.

The Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee approved the bill this month. The full Assembly is expected to consider the bill later this month.

Local officials said they hope revenue from such a deal could be used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for rebuilding CIM. They have expressed concern for years that CIM is deteriorating and overcrowded.

“An agreement like this one is a win-win-win for the community, CDCR and the general fund,” Hagman said.

“A land-lease agreement could be used to keep some of the money within the department the land is allocated to, and contribute to the general fund. It will also make the prison more secure, giving peace of mind to the surrounding communities.”

If the corrections department sells the unused land – between 800 and 900 acres – the revenue would go into the state’s general fund.

But if the bill – AB 2438 – is approved, the department would keep some of the money for prison construction.

The bill would require the department to create a master plan for how it aims to use the land in the next 30 to 40 years.

The new master plan could include the construction of a new men’s prison, which Chino officials hope will be built closer to the center of the property. The current prison is near main city roads and homes.

The new configuration would allow for the placement of more commercial development on major streets such as Euclid and Central avenues.

“The good part of putting the prison in the middle of the land is it would open up the whole outside perimeter surrounding CIM to commercial and industrial development,” Mayor Dennis Yates said.

“That drives up the price of the land, and we benefit from an increased tax increment, which I think would be a huge economic stimulus and quite a blessing with the security of a new state-of-the-art facility. It would put our minds at ease, compared to the dilapidated structure there now.”

The plan outlined in the bill is similar to a land-use proposal developed jointly by Chino and Chino Hills. The original plan – which the corrections department rejected in 2008 – envisioned using development revenue from land around the prison to replace the aging CIM. Proceeds were estimated at around $360 million.

To read entire story, click here.