The City of Paso Robles is no longer in talks with the state over the purchase of the former Youth Correctional Facility on Airport Road, but there’s a possibility the city could still buy the property.
Approximately 60 structures sit on the 100-plus acre piece of land. The Department of Corrections says the first juvenile wards were housed there in 1947. The facility was permanently closed in 2008 due to a major policy change in how the state deals with juvenile offenders.
According to City Manager Tom Frutchey, the state first offered the abandoned property to other state agencies but got no takers, so it then offered the facility for sale to regional and local agencies. The City of Paso Robles was the only agency to express interest.
However, after studying the site and discussing conditions of the sale with state officials, Frutchey says the city decided some of those conditions were too restrictive — the city would not be allowed to resell the property for 25 years or lease it to any for-profit entities and there was no negotiating the price set by the state, $4.8 million.
Frutchey says the city wanted the property to eventually be able to pay for itself and restricting the ability to lease it would make that too difficult.
Now, the state is expected to place the property up for sale on the open market after the first of the year.
Frutchey says that will remove all the state’s restrictions, so the city may decide to put in an offer.
He says the facility has tremendous potential because of its proximity to the airport and the city is still interested in acquiring the property.
In November, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin told KSBY News the city had considered the site for a possible homeless shelter, affordable housing development or agriculture worker housing.
However, some homeless advocates argue the site’s location isn’t practical.
“Three or four miles outside the center of town would require us to have transportation from here to there every day,” said Ed Gallagher, PasoCares board member. “Most of our clients live up and down the riverbed and various places towards the corner of town so that presents a problem all on it’s own.”
Whether the city buys the abandoned correctional facility or not, both the city and homeless advocates agree it will take a collective effort to provide permanent shelter.
“We’re at the point where we have to address it in some fashion and that’s what they are waking up to,” said Gallagher
Frutchey says he expects the state to start taking bids sometime over the summer.