JUVENILE PROBATION

 

Summary of Key Points in the Report

·        The success of preventive Probation programs through multi-agency collaborations

·        The need for female-specific Probation programs

·        The accomplished and planned expansion program of Santa Maria Juvenile Hall

·        The facility needs at Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall

·        The relationship of the Los Prietos Boys' Camp and the Tri-Counties Boot Camp with the Forest Service

 

INTRODUCTION

When a person under 18 years of age (a juvenile) is placed into probation in Santa Barbara County, he or she becomes the legal responsibility of the Santa Barbara Probation Department. The custody, care, and education of the juvenile offender are defined by legal mandates.

The Chief Probation Officer, appointed by the Presiding Judge of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, has overall responsibility for the Probation Department. Members of the Probation staff are employees of the Court.

Juveniles are referred to probation by a precipitating event, usually

·        truancy from school,

·        problems at school outside the authority of the school,

·        out-of-control actions,

·        committing a new offense, or

·        violating probation sanctions.

 

Rehabilitation, not punishment, is the goal of the juvenile probation system in Santa Barbara County. In pursuit of this goal, the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council designs and adjusts a range of responses to juvenile offenders and their offenses. Annually, the Council publishes a “Local Action Plan” that identifies community needs and defines responses designed to meet those needs.

Federal law, State law, and the orders of the Court shape the types of services provided by the Probation Department. The Probation Department also takes into consideration the risk the juvenile may present to the community and the needs of the juvenile and his or her family, as identified by the local Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.

The Probation Department is also provided with authority under Sections 880 through 891 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code. This Code is the legal basis for the development, implementation, and operation of juvenile detention facilities in the State of California.

This report is in three parts: 

I.  Juvenile Justice: The Santa Barbara County Model describes the coordination of resources that the Santa Barbara County Probation Department has developed over the years to fulfill the mandates of rehabilitating juveniles who have been placed in its custody—those either accused of law violations or those found to have committed violations of the law. The Santa Barbara system, recognized in 1997 as a model program for State Board of Corrections funding, is now a mandatory model for all California counties. This model is valuable to our community in many ways. In addition to the State accolades, significant efficiencies have resulted from this coordination of resources. Other Santa Barbara County departments have been awarded grants (non-County monies) to further multi-agency collaboration efforts first started in the Probation Department.

II.  Juvenile Justice Issues in Santa Barbara County describes gender-specific needs to be included in the continuum of probation responses to juvenile crime. Also discussed here are issues of parity in status and compensation between juvenile institutional probation staff and other law-enforcement employees in the County.

III.  Juvenile Probation Housing in Santa Barbara County assesses the Probation Department's execution of its responsibility for the development and operation of juvenile detention facilities. These community-based programs are:

A.     Non-Institutional Juvenile Field Service Housing, which includes home-supervision, foster family development, and group homes; and

B.      Institutional Juvenile Housing, which is comprised of two types of facilities:

·        Juvenile halls: Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, and Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall

·        Juvenile remediation camps: Los Prietos Boys’ Camp, and Tri-Counties Boot Camp

 

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I.  Juvenile Justice: THE Santa Barbara County MODEL

Summary:  Measures of Success of the Model

·        The County has experienced an 11% Reduction in Juvenile Crime (1996 to 2000).

·        Out of 6,419 juveniles referred to the Probation Department in 2000, only 12 were remanded to the California Youth Authority.

·        The Santa Barbara Probation Department’s design was used as a model for all California counties in designs for Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils.

·        The Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council is effective in reducing redundant program development, thus saving County taxpayers’ money.


Planning for the Santa Barbara juvenile justice system is the responsibility of the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC), which is chaired by the Chief Probation Officer.

Through interagency collaborations, the JJCC has designed a continuum of responses to juvenile crime that is coordinated in the Probation Department. These efforts have resulted in an 11% reduction in juvenile crime as measured by juvenile referrals to Probation from 1996 to 2000. In 2000, 6419 juvenile referrals were made to the Probation Department but only 12 juveniles were committed to the California Youth Authority, where repeat offenders are sent. This is a remarkable record of crime prevention and of remediation of juvenile offenders.

Many of these collaborations have been functioning for years. In fact, the State Board of Corrections studied the system of response used by the Santa Barbara Probation Department and, in 1997, it became the model for legislation mandating the formation, in all counties, of Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils.

 

COMMENDATION

The Grand Jury commends the Probation Department for originating, and the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council for continuing, a thoughtful and productive approach to the problem of juvenile crime. The planning for responses to the issues affecting juvenile offenders in Santa Barbara County is comprehensive. The Grand Jury recognizes the complex inter-departmental and community coordination that is the basis for many of the programs and resources that make up this approach. This saves County taxpayers the expense and confusion of redundant program development.

 

Participants in the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council

·        The Superior Court, the Public Defender, the District Attorney, the Sheriff’s Department, all municipal Police Departments, and the Probation Department

·        All school districts and the County Education Office

·        The Social Services Department, Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services (ADMHS), and the Public Health Department

·        The Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator

·        A representative of the Santa Barbara business community

·        In addition, many community non-profit agencies participate, as does a member of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission (JJDPC).

 

 Santa Barbara County Juvenile Justice System Programs

Primary Prevention Programs:  D.A.R.E., Youth and Law, Gang Awareness Education, Partnership for Families.

Early Identification and Assessment of At-Risk Juvenile Offenders:  Challenge I Grant in the Santa Maria area .

Early Intervention Project:  Part of the above Challenge I Grant in the Santa Maria Area.

Diversion Programs:  Teen Court, Community-Oriented Diversion Enforcement.

Supervision Programs:  Multi-Agency Integrated System of Care (MISC), Family Caseload, and Neighborhood and Family-Based Supervision.

Response to Status Offenders:  (Status offenses are infractions and violations of local ordinances.) Truancy Prevention Programs, Daytime Curfew Ordinance, and Runaway Shelter Care.

Treatment Programs:  Out-of-Home Placements, Counseling and Education Centers (CECs), Tri-Counties Boot Camp, Los Prietos Boys' Camp.

Aftercare Transition Program:  This is provided through the Challenge I Grant.

Secure Custody and Community Confinement Programs:  Juvenile Hall and community confinement, crisis resolution group homes, and individual family placements.

 

II.  JUVENILE JUSTICE ISSUES IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Summary:  Important Probation Developments, 1996-2000

·        Juvenile criminal referrals (for first-time offenders) have been reduced by 30%, at least in part due to the Probation Department’s successful prevention programs.

·        Increased supervision intensity by Probation Staff has resulted in a 21% increase in the number of juveniles apprehended for probation violations (second or higher offense).

·        The number of females referred to probation has increased by 20% and referrals for violent crimes committed by females have increased by 40%.

A strong indication of the success of the Prevention, Early Identification, Early Intervention, and Diversion Programs is the 30% reduction in juvenile criminal (felony and misdemeanor) first-time referrals to the County Probation Department over the four-year period from 1996 through 2000. Increased programming for juveniles within the residential programs also contributes to this success.

However, the number of probation violations by juvenile probationers who have committed criminal offenses has increased by 21% over the same time period, and the number of juvenile probationers who have been apprehended for status offenses as well as violations of local ordinances (truancy, tobacco, runaways, and other infractions) has increased by 34%. These increases result, at least partially, from increased supervision intensity by Probation Staff, and efforts to follow up with swift and certain consequences for violators.

Gender-Specific Issues

The number of crimes committed by female juvenile offenders has grown dramatically as has the severity of their crimes. Many of the issues that lead to delinquent behavior among female offenders—for example, high rates of physical and sexual victimization—are not effectively addressed in coeducational settings. The number of females referred to Probation for all crimes increased over the past four years by about 20% of all referrals (male and female). The number of referrals for violent crimes by females increased by 40% of all referrals (male and female) over the same period.

Probation Staff Issues

Members of the Probation Staff undergo 40 hours of facility training and four weeks of academy training (total initial training: 200 hours). In addition, they receive strong management exposure and have on-line access to all Probation Department policies. (Because the policies are on line, they are easily updated and referenced.) After training, a beginning staff member is paid marginally less than the pay received by other beginning law enforcement personnel in the County and surrounding counties.

In 1998 and 1999, the staff turnover was 30% from the juvenile hall (institutions) into Probation Field Service, indicating that institution-based probation work may have less allure than field work. In County Probation Field Service management as well as other law-enforcement agencies within and out of Santa Barbara actively recruit these trained juvenile facility staffers.

A Probation Manager and a Probation Institutions Supervisor are responsible for the operation of each detention facility. Facility staffs are organized within clearly defined chains of command. The Probation Managers report to a Probation Department Deputy Chief. Collaboration with other County departments is well managed.

Finding 1:  Continuity of service of the Juvenile Probation staff is important.

Finding 2:  Many new juvenile institutions staffers leave institutions work within two years.

Recommendation 1:  The Probation Department should consider salary increases for institutions-based Probation staff to parity with Probation Field Service levels as a factor in maintaining continuity of service.

Recommendation 2:  The Probation Department should consider rotating Juvenile Probation staff between institutions-based duty and field duty to deal with perceived differences in status between the two Probation services and to provide cross training.

III.  JUVENILE PROBATION HOUSING IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Summary:  Population and Demographic Issues

·        The increasing juvenile population in Santa Barbara County creates a need for more residency programs for probation (second-time or multiple) offenders.

·        There is need for additional placement and treatment programs for female juveniles.

A.  Non-Institutional (Field Service) Juvenile Housing

Probation Department Field Services provide for non-institutional (home supervision, foster families, group homes, etc.) residency programs for juvenile probationers. If appropriate housing is unavailable in the County, the juvenile offender may be placed out-of-County. Unfortunately, this prevents access to community-developed programs.

In line with the increase in probation violations, the need for additional residency programs for juveniles has increased. Projections by the State Department of Finance indicate that by the year 2005 there will be 8,000 more youths, aged 10 to 17, living in Santa Barbara County than there are today. By the year 2020, that number will be about 16,000 more. The Santa Barbara County Local Action Plan projects 150 juvenile justice referrals per year per each 1000 youth. If the referral rate remains unchanged, this projects to an anticipated increase of about 2400 referrals to juvenile probation in 2020.

Finding 3:  More foster homes and group homes are needed now in Santa Barbara County, and more undoubtedly will be needed in coming years.

Finding 4:  Many extra-parental placements of juveniles are out of County, making family support and reunification harder and denying access to community-based resources.

Finding 5:  Many of the issues that lead to delinquent behavior among female offenders—for example, high rates of physical and sexual victimization—are not effectively addressed in coeducational or English-only settings.

Finding 6:  More placement and treatment programs—particularly female-specific programs—are needed for female juveniles in view of the increased numbers of female juvenile offenders.

Recommendation 3a:  The Probation Department should continue to share resources with the Social Services Department to recruit additional foster families and host families.

Recommendation 3b:  The Probation Department should continue collaborations with professionals in the County Departments of Public Health, Social Services, and ADMHS, as well as County and municipal schools and community-based non-profit organizations, to develop and enhance female-specific programs.

Recommendation 4:  In view of the increased numbers of female juvenile offenders, the Probation Department should develop more female specific placement and treatment programs.

Recommendation 5:  The Probation Department should establish and maintain links with female-specific community-based services for non-English-speaking female juveniles.

Recommendation 6:  The Probation Department should identify and develop female-specific treatment programs with, as well as without, housing.

B.  Institutional Juvenile Housing

General Considerations

The Presiding Judge of the Santa Barbara Superior Court and the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council are required to do annual inspections of the juvenile detention facilities. The California Board of Corrections inspects the secure juvenile detention facilities at least once every two years.

Two juvenile halls and two camp programs serve some of the residential needs identified by the Probation Department in Santa Barbara County. These are

·        Santa Maria Juvenile Hall; current capacity 50 youth (coed)

·        Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall; capacity 56 youth (coed)

·        Los Prietos Boys' Camp; capacity 56 boys

·        Tri-Counties Boot Camp; capacity 40 boys (presently 15 from Santa Barbara and, under contract, 20 from Ventura and 5 from San Luis Obispo Counties).

 

The medical program serving all four Santa Barbara County Juvenile Detention facilities is one of only six programs for such facilities that have been awarded full medical quality certification by the California Medical Association (CMA). The CMA inspects these medical facilities every other year.

            Santa Maria Juvenile Hall

The Santa Maria Juvenile Hall was expanded by 30 beds in 2000 and there are plans for 90 more beds by 2004, to cover anticipated needs until 2015.

Finding 7:  An additional 30 beds were provided at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall in December 2000, and 90 more beds are planned by 2004. The 90 additional beds should accommodate the anticipated increase in juvenile hall housing needs for the County to the year 2015.

Recommendation 7:  The Board of Supervisors and the Probation Department should assure that the planned addition of 90 beds at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is fulfilled in order to accommodate the County’s needs for juvenile institutional housing to the year 2015.

Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall

The Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall, a 50 year old building, is the Probation Department’s secure juvenile detention facility for the South County. No new beds have been added since 1968.

The building is well scrubbed and maintained despite the dated construction technology and materials. Management and staff have shown their willingness and ability to maintain the facility and to continue to enhance its serviceability. However, new plumbing in some locations would be a major improvement.

The Grand Jury assessed the current facility with reference to the anticipated general population growth of Santa Barbara County, and the management and condition of this 50-year old facility. The Jury concluded that the serviceability of the existing facility could be enhanced by addressing a number of items including the following:

·        There is only a single entrance for all visitors, staff, and for juvenile intake and release; this situation jeopardizes security.

·        All meal service is contracted from outside the facility even though an almost complete industrial kitchen is unused at the facility except for office and packaged goods storage.

·        Water and sewer line service reach the facility from the north side of Highway 101, making any incremental capacity modification a large and expensive undertaking

·        The emergency generator should be assessed in terms of the integrity of its fuel supply in an earthquake or major fire, as well as its capacity in view of future electricity needs.

Finding 8:  The building needs to be updated in a variety of ways that probably would cost less than replacement of the entire facility.

Recommendation 8a:  Assess the fuel supply to the emergency generator.

Recommendation 8b:  Assess the emergency generator’s capacity to supply adequate emergency power.

Recommendation 8c:  The electronic security system should be upgraded.

Recommendation 8d:  Toilets and wash basins should be installed in nine rooms in Unit 2 and seven rooms in Unit 3.

Recommendation 8e:  In concert with the bathroom construction, the water supply and sewer lines to the mains on the north side of Highway 101 should be replaced with new lines to the mains on nearby Hollister Avenue.

Recommendation 8f:  Construct an additional classroom now to enable this facility to handle current needs and prepare for anticipated growth.

Finding 9:  The same entrance from the parking lot into the facility is used by visitors and personnel, as well as for the intake and release of juveniles.

Recommendation 9:  A separate, secure entrance solely for the intake and release of juveniles should be constructed.

Finding 10:  All food preparation for juveniles is contracted for and prepared off-site.

Finding 11:  A full industrial kitchen (except for a dishwashing machine) is unused at the facility, except to store packaged foodstuffs for off-hour snacks for the detainees.

Recommendation 10:  A dishwashing machine should be acquired to enable the existing kitchen facilities to be utilized for vocational training of the juveniles.

Recommendation 11:  Part of this 1600-square foot space should be reorganized so that it can serve some daily space needs—for example, for juvenile programs and staff meetings—while being available for vocational training.

Finding 12:  The industrial kitchen is a resource that could serve for emergency meal preparation for staff and residents in this facility, in the nearby La Morada Sheriff’s facility, and in the Santa Barbara Main Jail. Emergency food supplies are available at the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County, a short distance from the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall.

Recommendation 12:  An analysis should be made to determine the feasibility of setting up this kitchen for use in emergencies and as a vocational venue.

 

Los Prietos Boys' Camp and the Tri-Counties Boot Camp

Summary:  Issues relating to the Los Prietos Boys’ Camp

and the Tri-Counties Boot Camp

·        Sheriff’s Department personnel believe that programs at these Camps are a significant factor in the reduction of adult crime in Santa Barbara County.

·        The Forest Service’s revision of the proposed development adjacent to the Camps would serve almost 70% more people than the maximum originally planned, and may not be necessary, in view of current demand.

·        The increase proposed by the Forest Service does not appear in environmental permit approvals, nor was any air quality assessment found in the records.

·        By executing a flexible version of the originally permitted plans, the Forest Service would be able to preserve the five existing and critically needed County staff houses.

·        If the Forest Service were to agree to allow the existing County-owned houses to remain, the County would save $164,000 per year needed to provide equivalent services to compensate for their loss.

    

 

Los Prietos and Tri-Counties Boot Camp Programs

Probation rehabilitation programs for sentenced juvenile boys under the supervision of the Santa Barbara County Probation Department are provided by two facilities: the Los Prietos Boys’ Camp (ages 13 to 18) and the Tri Counties Boot Camp (ages 13 to 17).

The Los Prietos Boys’ Camp offers a varied and challenging program for mid- to high-risk juvenile offenders. It offers two program alternatives: (1) an accelerated regimen of from 90 to 120 days, or (2) a six-month institutional program. Both programs include six months of after-care community probation. Minors assessed as "at high-risk of felony commission" continue to be tracked by the Probation Department for two years after completion of the after care phase; that is, until most are no longer minors.

The Tri-Counties Boot Camp provides an early intervention program for low-level, non violent juvenile offenders.  The program includes an institutional phase of from 90 to 120 days and an after care phase of up to six months.

The programming at the two facilities is highly structured. As with the other juvenile probation services in Santa Barbara County, the programming is achieved by substantial coordination with other County departments, community agencies, and volunteers. Probation Camp rehabilitation is designed to challenge juveniles to succeed rather than daring them to fail. By participating in a therapy that emphasizes personal responsibility, the juveniles build self esteem rather than becoming dominated, as often happens in other boot camp programs.

In addition to mandated education provided by the County Education Office, vocational studies and certificate training programs are offered for food-service careers, computer repair skills, and construction maintenance. The goal is to re-integrate an otherwise at-risk population of male juvenile offenders into their respective communities as responsible, productive, and substance-free individuals. Rather than reducing a juvenile’s options, often an outcome of penal experience, Santa Barbara County’s juvenile detention programming seems to increase the juveniles' opportunities for success.

Personnel in the Probation and Sheriff’s Departments believe that these Camp programs are significant factors in the reduction of adult crime in Santa Barbara County.

Locale and Facilities

These two facilities are co located 20 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara, in the Santa Ynez River area of the Los Padres National Forest, on Federally owned land managed by the United States Forest Service, a subsidiary of the United States Department of Agriculture. Camp capacities total 96: 56 at Los Prietos Boys' Camp and 40 at the Tri-Counties Boot Camp. Both facilities operate at near capacity—the average daily attendance in year 2000 totaled 91 juveniles, about 95% of capacity, as in most years.

Los Prietos Boys' Camp was established in 1945 to serve the youth of Santa Barbara County. In 1997, the Forest Service modified the 1973 Special Use Permit with the County to allow establishment of the Tri-Counties Boot Camp as a joint project among Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. The respective Boards of Supervisors from these counties granted operational approval and authority by Board Resolution in compliance with standards in Title 15 and 25 of the California Code of Regulations (California State Board of Corrections).

Although the two Camps are not fully fenced, in the past year there have been only nine escapes. Seven of these boys were immediately apprehended in the vicinity of the Camp. Table 1, which shows the diminishing trend of escapes from the Camps, indicates the increasing success of the programming.

Table 1. Camp Escapes and Apprehensions, 1997-2000

 

Year

 

Escapes

 

Escape change over prior year

 

Immediate apprehensions

 

Immediate apprehensions as  % of escapes

1997

38

 

14

37%

1998

27

-11 (-29%)

17

63%

1999

15

-12 (-44%)

13

87%

2000

9

 -6 (-40%)

7

78%

 

Both facilities are supervised for 24 hours a day, seven days per week, by a staff of 52. In addition to supervising the juveniles and coordinating the efforts of visiting County and community service providers, Probation Institutions Officers are also charged with providing backup to the staffs at the Santa Barbara and Santa Maria Juvenile Halls. For example, during the Grand Jury investigation, the Camps’ staff responded to the need to evacuate the residents of the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall when fire in a Goleta sewer blanketed part of that community with dense smoke.

All Camp buildings and facilities are owned by Santa Barbara County. Because of the presence of significant numbers of Chumash Indian archeological sites, which need to be respected, any construction in the Los Padres National Forest is severely restricted, making approval for any additional construction of the Camps’ facilities uncertain.

Five of the Institutions Officers and their families live in the five County-owned housing units on Forest Service land adjacent to the Camps. Their presence on site saves the Probation Department an estimated $104,000 per year for back-up staffing (one full-time and one stand-by staff on-site during graveyard shift). Without this housing, space within the existing Camp buildings would need to be rededicated as sleeping facilities for the back-up staff.

The area of the Camps is remote from the Santa Barbara, Solvang, Buellton, and Santa Maria urban communities; overnight accommodations are sometimes needed for temporary staff responding to emergencies such as forest fires, earthquakes, communication/electric outages, and floods. The houses for the five Institutions Officers can provide such accommodations. The round-the-clock presence of the resident Probation Department Institutions Officers living in the Los Padres National Forest also can provide readily available assistance to supplement the Forest Service. The proximity of Probation staff homes to the Camps saves money for the County and its taxpayers.

Relationship with the Forest Service

The formal relationship between these Camps and the Forest Service began in 1950 and remains mutually beneficial. Forest Service staffing has been reduced nationwide over the years. The Los Prietos and Tri-Counties juveniles have taken up some of the slack locally by assuming a growing portion of the maintenance work in the Santa Ynez River area of the Los Padres National Forest.

The second 30-year term of the Camps’ Special Use Permit with the Forest Service was signed in 1994, with an expansion of use granted in 1997 for establishment of the Tri-Counties Boot Camp. A National Environment Protection Agency/California Environmental Quality Agency (NEPA/CEQA) report was done for the Camps’ expanded use, which noted, among other environmental impacts, problems with the Camps’ water usage.

As part of that Special Use Permit, and based on a 1973 development plan, the County relocated all structures from the land adjacent to the Santa Ynez River to a 22-acre site on an escarpment 200 feet to the south. In signing this agreement, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors accepted the responsibility for removing the five staff housing units and restoring their sites to “near natural condition.” The Supervisors did not agree to close the two water wells serving the Camps.

Finding 13:  The November 1996 NEPA/CEQA report noted a loss of water from the supply loop serving the five housing units at the Los Prietos Boys' Camp site.

Finding 14:  In the report it was noted that, of the 11,000 gallons average pumped per day for use by the camps and the houses, the five Probation staff houses were metered at 7,000 gallons per day, suggesting a serious leak in the system.

Recommendation 13:  The Camps should continue programs to economize on their use of water, a precious resource in this fire-prone area. Water leaks should be promptly identified and repaired.

Recommendation 14:  The Camps should immediately carry out their proposed plan to re-sleeve the existing water lines.

By car, the Santa Ynez River area of the Los Padres National Forest is a recreation area accessible only over Paradise Road, with its only ingress and egress on San Marcos Pass. Paradise Road, a narrow, winding mountain road, is regularly used by hikers, bicyclists, equestrians, picnickers, swimmers, and fishermen, as well as the Camps’ staff and visitors.

Work crews from the Camps frequently clear rocks from this area’s only access road to make it passable. In addition, the juveniles groom an estimated average of 20 miles of dirt trails in the Los Padres National Forest each year. In year 2000, these crews also cleared all the grass and brush for six feet on each side of Paradise Road for approximately eight miles, from Highway 154 to its first crossing of the Santa Ynez River. This project was undertaken by the Camps to help prevent forest fires in the Los Padres National Forest at the Santa Ynez River because the County and the Forest Service could not fund this work.

COMMENDATION

The Grand Jury commends the Forest Service for its flexibility demonstrated in the past and the cooperative attitude that continues to be important in the success of these vital County youth facilities.

 

The Proposed Forest Service Expansion

In 1996, the Forest Service consigned the management of the Santa Ynez River area of the Los Padres National Forest to the Rocky Mountain Recreation Company, a for-profit concessionaire. The Company, under a five-year contract, collects $5 day-use and $30 annual-access revenue (the “Adventure Pass”) from visitors to this recreation area. The local Los Padres District of the Forest Service derives its only non-Congressionally allocated funds for forest maintenance from just ten percent of the sales of the Adventure Pass. In 1999, the Forest Service received $17,149 from this contract.

There are now five day-use areas on the river, including the popular Red Rock swimming hole. In the lower Santa Ynez River area of the Los Padres National Forest, the Forest Service provides 134 picnic tables, seating for 804 picnickers, and appropriate amounts of parking at the day-use sites along Paradise Road.

The Forest Service began its first formal Use Study (number of visitors) of the Los Padres National Forest on October 1, 2000. Data from that study will only be available after September 30, 2001, and there is no current study of use for this area. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the current number of picnic sites and tables is rarely inadequate to meet public demand.

The Forest Service plans to develop an 11-acre parcel of land immediately adjacent to the Los Prietos Boys' Camp and Tri-Counties Boot Camp into a medium-sized day-use picnic area. Designated “First Crossing” because of its location near the first crossing of Paradise Road over the Santa Ynez River, this new picnic area will be administered by the Rocky Mountain Recreation Company. Currently used as a staging area for river fishing and bicycle trips, the First Crossing area will be enlarged and the parking spaces will be marked, formalized, and increased to accommodate 160 cars, RVs, and vehicles with trailers.

The First Crossing Project was subject to a same-agency (i.e., Forest Service completed) Environmental Analysis (EA), and was permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1995. It was noted in the EA that there were seven public letters of concern with the project, but that no mitigation would be necessary for the concerns expressed.

That 1995 Environmental Assessment, which was signed in July 1998, detailed a plan for eight to 12 picnic sites with seating for 16 to 24 people at each site; that is, from 128 to 288 people. This medium-sized recreation plan also includes permanent barbecues and restroom facilities. In this plan, asphalted surfaces replace and amplify the patchwork of concrete and decomposed granite foundations of the existing parking areas.

In a Forest Service letter entitled “Decision Notice – Finding of No Significant Impact – First Crossing Project,” dated October 27, 1998 (five months after the signed development plan), the number of picnic sites was listed as 15, a 25% increase over the maximum of 12 sites in the approved plan. This and associated changes increased the project from a recreation area serving from 128 to 288 persons to one serving from 240 to 360 persons—an average of almost 70% more than originally planned.

These additional uses do not appear to be noted within existing permits and approvals.

Two of the letters of concern noted in the 1995 Environmental Assessment were from the Santa Barbara County Probation Department. These letters argued that, because the picnic area would be within sight and sound of the two Camps, the proximity of large groups of river revelers could create distractions to the rehabilitative programming that is a primary function of the Camps. The letters additionally noted that, since the Camps are not fully fenced, picnickers could enter the Camps’ area unintentionally, out of curiosity, to seek information and assistance, or to make prohibited contact with one or more inmates. This could disrupt carefully structured camp activities.

The Grand Jury questions the advisability of concentrating large numbers of visitors at this specific site adjacent to the Camps.

Finding 15a:  The Forest Service plans to begin construction bidding of the expanded project at the First Crossing site on July 1, 2001.

Finding 15b:  Court-mandated rehabilitation programs at Los Prietos Boys' Camp and the Tri-Counties Boot Camp are at risk of being compromised by the close presence of recreational revelry possibly within sight and almost certainly within hearing range of the inmates.

Finding 15c:  The current number of day-use sites (five) and picnic seating (804) in the Los Padres National Forest along Paradise Road appears to be sufficient for the current number of visitors even without the addition of the eight to 12 planned and permitted picnic sites for an additional 128 to 288 people at First Crossing, let alone the expanded 15-site development plan for 240 to 360 people.

Finding 15d:  The current recreational uses of the site (for fishing and bicycle trip staging) could be impacted adversely by the traffic and noise of the intended First Crossing picnic area.

Finding 15e:  The Forest Service’s July 1998 signed Environmental Assessment for the First Crossing picnic area was based on a maximum of 12 picnic sites serving 16 to 24 people each.

Finding 15f:  Subsequently, the Forest Service has repeatedly stated that they plan for 15 sites, an increase of 25% over the maximum number of sites evaluated in the Environmental Assessment, apparently without further environmental assessment.

Finding 15g:  The additional motor traffic destined for the First Crossing picnic area and the additional commuting that would be needed by the five relocated probation staff has not been factored into the 1995 Environmental Assessment.

Finding 15h:  No air quality assessments were done, nor were mitigation concerns formulated, for the additional traffic and the new barbecues planned for the First Crossing site.

Finding 15i:  Under the original 1973 agreement, as amended, between the Forest Service and the County, the five staff houses are slated for demolition and the area cleared and returned to “near natural state” prior to December 31, 2003.

Finding 15j:  The original 1973 agreement between the Forest Service and the County is amendable.

Finding 15k:  Draft Forest Service plans shown to the Grand Jury indicated that three of the 15 proposed picnic sites are to occupy the area where the five staff houses now stand.

Finding 15l:  Eliminating the three proposed picnic sites not evaluated in the Environmental Assessment would obviate the need to demolish the five houses and still provide sufficient numbers of picnic sites at that location.

Finding 15m:  The demolition and cartage of staff housing mandated by the Forest Service would be at County expense, estimated at $36,000 to $76,000, a range based in part on an estimate of tippage costs. These funds would have to be allocated well before the December 31, 2003 deadline for completion.

Finding 15n:  The loss of any housing within the County is regrettable.

Finding 15o:  The demolition of these houses would be an unfortunate loss of valuable and scarce County resources under the control of the Forest Service.

Finding 15p:  The buffer provided by the presence of the five staff families from the Probation Department in the existing houses enhances security in the area and also inhibits access between the proposed recreation area and the Camps.

Finding 15q:  Expanding the area from 12 to 15 picnic sites would put added oversight responsibility on the existing Forest Service staff and could create a need for additional Sheriff’s Department law enforcement, which could be costly to the County.

Finding 15r:  Rocky Mountain Recreation Company employees (as any Forest Service concessionaire employees) are not sworn peace officers.

Finding 15s:  The development proposed for First Crossing does not appear to be presently necessary. The Forest Service can encourage increased recreational use of the Santa Ynez River area of the Los Padres National Forest without the development proposed for First Crossing.

Recommendation 15a:  The Probation Department should renew its efforts to retain use of the five houses.

Recommendation 15b:  The Probation Department should present to the Board of Supervisors a status report listing anticipated problems stemming from the Forest Service’s First Crossing development plans.

Recommendation 15c:  The Probation Department should encourage the Board of Supervisors to request that the Forest Service stay within the (environmentally assessed) original number of 12 picnic sites.

Recommendation 15d:  The Probation Department should request the Board of Supervisors to express its views concerning the problems related to the proposed expansion in a letter to the Forest Service’s Los Padres District Ranger.

Recommendation 15e:  In the event of an inadequate response from the local Forest Service, the Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator should communicate directly with the 22nd Congressional District Representative. Additionally, the Forest Service officials listed below should be requested to review and, if necessary, investigate the issue:

Los Padres District Ranger

U. S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region

Chief, USDA Forest Service, Washington D.C.

United States Department of Agriculture, Washington D. C.

There is urgency because the bidding process on the project contract is scheduled to begin on July 1, 2001.

Finding 16:  In the event the First Crossing development goes forward as currently planned, the Sheriff’s Department will need to augment its oversight of the enlarged picnic area.

Recommendation 16:  The Probation Department should complete the perimeter fencing, at least on the north side of the Camps facing the proposed picnic area. Plants should be established to screen and deter access. Also, sight lines from the picnic sites, parking area, and the Santa Ynez River should be fully blocked.

Finding 17:  If Recommendations 15c, 15d, and 15e do not result in assurances that the concerns expressed will be mitigated, additional County funds needed in the first year are estimated at from $200,000 to $240,000.

Recommendation 17:  The Board of Supervisors should plan to allocate County funds to provide for

·        demolition and cartage of the five staff houses (estimated at $36,000 to $76,000),

·        additional Juvenile Probation staff at the Camps (estimated at $104,000/year), and

 

AFFECTED AGENCIES

 

Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services

Finding 6

Recommendations 3b, 4

Board of Supervisors

Findings 1, 2, 7, 8, 15a through 15s, 16, 17

Recommendations 1, 2, 7, 8, 15a through 15e, 17

County Education Office

Findings 5, 6

Recommendations 3b, 4, 5

General Services

Findings 8, 9, 13, 14

Recommendations: 8a through 8f, 12, 13, 14

Planning and Development Department

Findings 13, 15a, 15e through 15i, 15 l through 15p

Recommendations 14, 15c

Probation Department

Findings 1 through 17

Recommendations 1 through 17

Public Health Department

Findings 5, 6, 10, 12, 15h

Recommendations 3b, 4, 5, 10

Public Works Department

Findings 15i, 15m

Sheriff’s Department

Findings 12, 15q, 15r, 16, 17

Recommendations 17

Social Services Department

Findings 3, 4, 5, 6

Recommendations 3a, 3b, 4

Treasurer-Tax Collector

Findings 15n, 15o