After many delays, construction on a project almost ten years in the making is expected to finally be completed. The doors to the North County Jail Project will open before the end of the year.
Construction is in the final stages at the site on Black and Betteravia roads in Santa Maria, and workers are getting all the systems up and running before the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office brings people in.
John Green, a project manager for the county, explained, “I think we’ve experienced just about every type of delay you can imagine on this project.”
The project began back in 2012 and was expected to finish in 2018, then again in 2019.
“We had weather delays, and then we had our architect go out of business. The design architect went out of business midway through construction, and then of course the COVID-19 pandemic came along and kind of slowed us down, too. We’ve had our challenges,” Green said.
The purpose of the project is to increase jail capacity, so when local law enforcement takes someone into custody, they will not have to drive all the way down to Santa Barbara for processing.
They expect to finish construction in July and be able to start processing people into the facility by this fall.
“[We are] seeking our final approvals from both the California State Fire Marshal and the State Board of Corrections,” Green said.
Officials say the new facility was constructed to alleviate overflow and recidivism at Santa Barbara County's Main Jail.
The new jail is about two years late and $8 million over budget.
The original project budget was $110 million.
“Right now, the project is about $118 million,” Green said.
The county received an $80 million grant from the State of California to build the facility. The remaining funds came from the county.
Once open, the jail will supplement the 850 beds at the Santa Barbara jail.
He said, “The facility has 376 rated beds.”
According to the county's website, 32 of those beds are specialized for mental health and medical purposes.