By Mark Gutglueck
Posted on October 9, 2015

Despite its $146 million price tag, including $29 million in construction cost overruns, the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto sustained an undetermined degree of damage, likely in the neighborhood of $300,000, when a rare summer rainstorm caused flooding in the facility’s kitchen and laundry areas because of a faulty roof.

The defects in the roof persisted despite representations made by the county last year that the project had reached completion and was ready for occupancy in February 2014.

The High Desert experienced severe rain and thunder-storms on July 18, 2015, which continued for a 24-hour period. The rain and thunder-storms resulted in major flooding and other storm-related problems throughout the region. “Upon conclusion of the storm event, an inspection of the construction-related areas [at the detention center] indicated a significant amount of water damage had occurred in the kitchen and laundry facilities,” Carl R. Alban, the director of the county’s architectural and engineering division told the board of supervisors this week. “This damage was a direct result of the drainage of water from the new roofing to the existing deteriorated roofing that was under construction.”

Alban’s disclosure that the roof was yet being worked on, some 16 months after the county had declared to the state that it was completed and ready for occupancy further throws into question the problematic history of the project, which was steeped in scandal from the outset and plagued by mismanagement in its execution.

The county bought what had previously been known as Maranatha Prison, a 706-inmate capacity privately owned and run facility located on 9438 Commerce Way in Adelanto, from the Moreland Family Trust in April 2005. Shortly thereafter it was learned that former California Assemblyman Brett Granlund, who was serving as a lobbyist for the county, represented the Moreland Family Trust on the deal. After obtaining it, the county resolved to add 1,392 new beds to render it into the second largest capacity detention facility run by the county, behind the 3,347-bed West Valley Detention Facility in Rancho Cucamonga.

In March 2008 the board of supervisors approved the submittal of a proposal to the State Correction Standards Authority requesting available funding of up to $100,000,000 to cover 75 percent of the cost to make the expansion and undertake renovations to make it code compliant. Two months later the county was conditionally awarded the requested $100 million for the expansion, having achieved first ranking on the list of public entities to be conditionally awarded funds available under a state detention facility financing law, AB900. A string attached to the granting of the funding, that the facility be operational by February 1, 2014, would result in a rush to complete its various stages after the board of supervisors, in July 2010, gave conceptual approval to the project and assumed various obligations relating to it.

The county held a bidding competition that fall and in December 2010 awarded a $90,951,937 contract to Bellevue-Washington-based Lydig Construction as the low bidder, after making a finding that the bids received from S.J. Amorosa Construction Co., Inc. of Costa Mesa, California and Flintco of Folsom, California were non-responsive.

Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Incorporated was originally given a $4,466,000 contract to provide architectural service on the project.

Jacobs Engineering, formerly known as Carter & Burgess, was given a contract to serve as engineers on the undertaking.

The overall project cost at that time was put at $120,419,790, which included a ten percent contingency.

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