If you have a public comment to make regarding the proposed closure of the California Correctional Center in Susanville, it should be addressed to:
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Facility Planning, Construction Division
Attention: Peter J. Connelly, Jr.
P.O. Box 942833
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001.
Comments also may be emailed to CCCClosure@ascentenvironmental.com.
CDCR will consider all scoping comments when preparing the Draft EIR.
Comments at the Thursday, Jan., 27 Zoom meeting
The CDCR held an Environmental Scoping Meeting on the proposed CCC closure via Zoom Thursday, Jan. 27 and it accepted public comment from nearly 20 individuals, including several local elected officials.
Richard Egan, Lassen County’s administrative officer, said the county would be providing formal comments regarding the EIR.
Egan noted that during the meeting, officials said High Desert State Prison would remain open, and “That would be important if it were true, but unfortunately I don’t find any evidence to support that statement. I don’t know of any commitments that have been made to do that, and actually to the contrary, some of the operations at HDSP have already been reduced.”
He also said while CDCR said it will make its decision about CCC in the late summer or fall, “closure of that facility began apparently long before that announcement was even made by virtue of depopulating the prison and not filling allocated positions.”
Egan said the number of staff at CCC is already about half of the allocated positions “so it’s important to use baseline data that predates the defacto decision that began 2020 or so.”
He said the document also should include an evaluation of the closure of other state prisons as an alternative.
Lassen County Supervisor Chris Gallagher said Lassen County would suffer a great economic impact if CCC closes.
He said CCC employees and their families represent about 20 percent of the total workforce, and “this county has been hit really hard the last 20 years or so with the closing of the mills and the lack of forest management to bring that kind of material back to the mills, so with this closure it’s just hitting us doubly hard. We are a very large footprint county with a very small population, so it’s difficult for us to maintain a workforce as well as the taxes necessary to run our operations on a daily basis.”
Gallagher said he wondered what would fill in the loss of 20 percent of the county’s workforce due to the prison’s closure. He also wondered what other uses could be found for the CCC facility.
Dan Newton, Susanville’s administrative officer, said, “The Notice of Preparation and the presentation materials indicate that the closure of the proposed project — the EIR should have been completed before the decision to close was made. Representatives from the governor’s office have stated the decision to close the institution is final. We are already experiencing the effects of that announcement, and so the Environmental Impact Report should address the announcement of the decision to close before the Environmental Impact Report has been prepared.”
He said the EIR should also consider the closure of other prisons in the state as an alternative to closing CCC.
“Susanville is a disadvantaged community,” Newton said. “By several state standards, our community is well below the median income for the state of California and the Environmental Impact Report should address the impacts the closure of CCC will have on the economy of Susanville and its disproportionate effect compared to other institutions in the state.
Like the county, Newton said the city would be providing additional comments for consideration prior to the February deadline.
Susanville City Councilmember Quincy McCourt said he had two concerns about the state of California’s moral obligations and our dedication to the environment and equality. He said diversity in the community could be attributed to the prison due to the variety of people who came to work there. The community would lose that diversity if the CCC closes. He also wondered if CCC’s closure would affect the odors released by the water treatment system used by both CCC and HDSP.
The deadline to submit comments is Monday, Feb. 14.