San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt

Supervisor: Attracting out-of-state business vital to the county’s growth
May 17, 2012 9:37 AM
RENE DE LA CRUZ, Special to the Daily Press

While it was billed as a State of County presentation, San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said his address Wednesday should have been titled “county of the state” because of Sacramento’s insistence on passing its responsibilities down to the county level.

“We’ve now been put in the prison business,” Mitzelfelt said during the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “We have someone in county jail serving an eightyear sentence right now. A country jail is not built to hold people for eight years. I guess the Legislature didn’t get the memo.”

Unless there is a change of course in the state’s prison realignment plan that releases low-level offenders to county facilities or parole, an additional 17,000 stateheld felons will be released to county control over the next three years, Mitzelfelt said.

“That is not a pretty picture, and that is an understatement,” said Mitzelfelt, who is working on county programs to help with the crisis. “We’re already full, and under court order not to get any more full.”

The county will receive $27 million from the state for costs associated with the implementation of the realignment plan through June 30, according to a country report, but Mitzelfelt said the county has asked for constitutional guarantees on those funds.

“The governor has added that to his tax increase initiative, so its fate is now tied to the tax measure,” Mitzelfelt said.

Community leader Bob Tinsley asked if the county could copy Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city concept, to save money and add additional space for the incarcerated.

“We would if we could, but the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sets the standards for county jails,” Mitzelfelt said. “We tried to do tents with our juvenile population, but the state required wood frames in the tents, air conditioning and heating.”

The elimination of the state’s redevelopment program, which helped finance infrastructure to attract out-of-state business, was another stake in the heart to municipalities across the county.

“Partnerships and cooperation are critical in this post-redevelopment time,” Mitzelfelt said. “We have to find another path toward something other than redevelopment. We can’t accept it when the state comes and takes our dollars, we have to fight.”

In an effort to fight housing sprawl and change growth to “smart growth,” Senate Bill 375 was passed in 2008, with one of its goals to do away with single-family, detached, large lot residential construction.

“The state views Apple Valley as sprawl. I view it as elbow-room,” Mitzelfelt said. “The state planners are telling the board of directors at the Southern California Association of Governments that we have enough detached housing.”

The bill, which targets greenhouse gas emission reduction tied to land use, requires regional planning agencies to create strategies to meet those reduction requirements.

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