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Roundtable On Chargers Deal, Juveniles In Solitary Confinement, Route 94

Is a new Chargers stadium a bad deal for the city? California may ban holding juvenile offenders in solitary confinement. And a proposed expansion of State Route 94 runs into opposition.

Audio

Stadium Deal, Juvenile Solitary Confinement, SR 94

HOST:

Mark Sauer

GUESTS:

Dan McSwain, San Diego Union Tribune

Kelly Davis, Freelance Crime and Justice Reporter

Joshua Emerson Smith, San Diego CityBeat

Transcript

Stadium: How bad a deal is it?

The city of San Diego could be considerably better off if the Chargers move to Los Angeles, according to San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Dan McSwain.

Under the city's plan, half the estimated $1.2 billion construction cost would come from the public. But McSwain notes there are other, long-term costs that are often ignored in the calculation, such as upkeep, and operating and tax subsidies. These would push the total to more like $900 million.

And these bills would be due at a time when San Diego’s infrastructure needs will reach $1.7 billion over the next five years.

Meanwhile, in the face of the team’s obvious disinterest in staying in Mission Valley, the city is going ahead with environmental studies and an October environmental impact report required for a proposed January 2016 public vote on the stadium. The budget for the EIR is $2.1 million. The city has already agreed to spend $250,000 on negotiators.

Juveniles in solitary confinement

It may surprise some to learn that jailed juveniles are kept in solitary confinement in the U.S. State Sen. Mark Leno’s (D-SF) bill banning that practice in California has passed the California Senate and awaits one more hearing in the Assembly.

Prison guards and probation officers oppose the ban, saying they believe isolation is a useful disciplinary tool. Advocates of the bill say solitary confinement is a source of trauma that can cripple a young person’s development and have serious mental health consequences.

Contra Costa County, near San Francisco, is one of several counties which allowed this punishment. It settled a lawsuit this May over claims that juveniles with psychiatric and developmental disabilities were isolated for as many as 23 hours a day.

In San Diego County, a 2013 investigation found that some juveniles were confined alone in their rooms for up to five days. Since data collection on this issue is not required by state or federal authorities, there is no telling how many young people are subjected to isolation.

A 2009 Justice Department study found that two-thirds of juveniles who committed suicide while incarcerated had a history of room confinement.

SR 94: Congestion and contention

State Route 94, running east from downtown to the desert, is well used. It was built in the 1950s. It's old and congested and long overdue for an upgrade, says Caltrans.

Transportation officials with Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments say the solution to the congestion in and out of downtown on the 94 is to build an overpass, or a flyover, for car pools and buses from Interstate 15 to Interstate 805.

Many who live in that area are transit users. They are unhappy that the first solution was to expand the freeway, and the project didn’t include a bus stop in any of the impacted communities. They and environmentalists advocate converting current freeway lanes on the 94 to managed lanes for transit and carpools.

Caltrans officials say the TransNet tax, which pays for transportation projects in the region, doesn’t allow that and that 75 percent of commuters are solo drivers anyway, so current lanes need to be preserved.

Councilmen David Alvarez and Todd Gloria have weighed in about the lack of transit and bus stops, and environmentalists have blasted this kind transportation planning as outdated.

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