Hemet City Council moves to prohibit private community detention centers for children and adults

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The Hemet City Council at its March 24 meeting, concerned that the city had a request from a private organization wanting to develop a community detention facility for unaccompanied minors, discussed prohibiting the facility, fearing it would threaten the health and well-being of its citizens.

The council learned that a privately run detention facility may be prohibited in California Assembly Bill 32, but the city had no ordinances governing such a facility other than emergency shelters. The applicant, in making the request, noted they had already obtained land for the purpose.

The staff reported that an ordinance that would prohibit any private detention facility, adult or juvenile would be needed; otherwise, if approved, it would cause other similar developments to come into the city that would be incompatible with the general plan and not protect the health and well-being of its residents or those incarcerated in the facility.

The proposed ordinance outlines the reasons why such facilities should be prohibited.

“The development in the city of private detention centers or community detention facilities for unaccompanied minors presents a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare, and that the approval of additional subdivisions, use permits, variances, building permits or any other applicable entitlement for use which is required in order to comply with the zoning ordinance would result in that threat to public health, safety or welfare,” according to the staff report. “Private detention centers and community detention facilities for unaccompanied minors uses may be in conflict with the zoning proposals currently being studied by the Planning Department for private detention facilities. This ordinance will protect the public health, safety and welfare.”

The council gave its approval to bring the ordinance back for further discussion and approval with language prohibiting privately operated adult detention facilities added.

In other business, the council in its consent calendar approved a resolution to award $58,870 to Tesco Controls for hardware to migrate its existing applications onto new city hardware; adopted a resolution to approve the Oak Tree Plaza Landscape Maintenance Services Agreement; approved a service agreement with The Pun Group LLC auditors increasing its contract for $246,000 and amended and adopted the security requirements for subdivisions to allow lien agreements with the developers as security for infrastructure construction.

The meeting, because of the county health doctor’s recommendation to restrict public meetings to 10 or less people and to keep the 6-foot social distance due to the raging coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, was held via live broadcast from the council chambers. While residents were invited to call in or email their comments and questions there were none, save a single email.

City manager Christopher Lopez, police Chief Eddie Pust and fire Chief Scott Brown provided an update on the actions taken by the city and its departments to abide by the county health, state and federal governments orders to halt the spread of coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.