SLO County women’s jail project $3.3 million over budget

August 10, 2016

slo county signThe San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.1 million cost overrun on the ongoing expansion of the women’s jail on Tuesday. Builders have also fallen one year behind schedule on the project. [Tribune]

Previously, the supervisors approved cost overruns totaling $2.2 million. Following Tuesday’s budget adjustment, the expansion of the women’s jail is $3.3 million over budget. The project was originally estimated to cost $40.7 million and is now expected to cost $44 million.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the supervisors voted to approve the cost overrun without having any discussion on the matter. No member of the public commented on the item, either.

County officials will allocate $1.1 obtained through savings from previous capital improvement projects in order to cover the latest overrun. State grants have contributed $25.1 million in funding for the project.

The jail expansion consists of a 36,000 square-foot addition to the women’s housing facility. New cells will provide housing for 198 inmates.

Additionally, the project includes a new medical and dental facility, which will serve both male and female inmates, as well as an upgrade to the entire jail’s security electronics.

El Dorado Hills-based contractor Roebbelen Contracting Inc. is tasked with completing the project. Construction began in 2014. Completion is now scheduled for July 2017, but the new jail cells may be ready this September.

Dave Flynn, the county’s deputy director of public works, said Tuesday that recent delays are due to soil conditions and construction changes ordered by the state fire marshal. An unexpected amount of rock and cobble made drilling and building foundation structures more difficult and time-consuming, Flynn said.

The fire marshal ordered builders to change the way they construct hollow metal walls, which are designed to be fire barriers. That change probably caused a delay of several months, Flynn said.


Several years ago, a SLO County public works crew broke up and removed a driveway apron that crossed a public sidewalk. The apron had long been extremely uneven and cracked due to settling and/or tree root intrusion—a public safety hazard. There were a minimum of six yellow County vehicles “involved” and too many workers to count—all for a modest driveway apron replacement project. The crew constructed forms and poured the concrete. The end result looked nice—even professional. Apparently not good enough. A couple days later the same crew was back breaking up and removing the NEW concrete apron. This was no joke! They constructed more forms, poured more concrete, and the apron hasn’t been touched since. WHAT was THAT all about and how many tax dollars got flushed? The County doesn’t care how many of your tax dollars and my tax dollars they waste. It’s a non-issue!

Mr. Holly

Simply amazing! Is anyone surprised by this? They are not even finished and are $3 million over budget. I wonder what the final figure will be? At $44 million dollars with 36000 sq. ft. that comes out to $1222 a square foot cost. New hospitals are about 2/3rds. that cost. This is not passing the smell test. All projects, especially one of this size, are required to have extensive soil testing done in order to be able to design the foundation and other aspects of the project. The Fire Marshall missed the boat too. I really don’t think that anyone from the private sector would have been able to submit plans and specifications lacking the necessary information and receive a building permit.

The sad part is that no one at the county will be held accountable for this. The only ones who will be accountable will be us the taxpayers.


New medical and dental facilities?! Wow. Must be nice.

Can I book some appointments for my family? Surely it would be cheaper than our current providers.

Ever since cost-cutting Obamacare has taken place, our deductibles are up, our premiums are up and wait times to get into a doc are up. And yeah, we can keep our current doctors–IF we pay a bunch extra!!

So who says crime doesn’t pay? Free dental and medical (plus 3 decent meals a day, I assume cable TV, heat and A/C) all waiting for you at the SLO county jail!


Always inetresting as a licensed contractor, to hear of this going on and it goes on all the time in all cities and counties. I am not allowed to go back to my customer and cry hardship when I blow a bid and didn’t figure actual costs corerectly. And it has never happened to me nor any of my buddies who have served this county for decades…


Dude, get on the bandwagon. Start bidding on government contracts (make sure you underbid them), cry hardship, and then make even more money. It’s a lot like working for SLO county: completely screw up, get giant severance package, go get another government job in some other county. SLO county makes it so easy…


Don’t waste your time. Go for the cost-plus DOD contracts.


$44 million / 198 inmates = $222222.22 per inmate. Since most are probably being held for victimless crimes, is this really a good investment? Our jails aren’t too small, we have too many laws.


Yes, we have too many laws and too many liberal judges…


Lol, if we had more conservative judges we would need a bigger jail and you would pay more taxes to pay for it all.


$45M for a jail. Sounds legit. Great leadership (sarcasm).

Jorge Estrada

The cost overruns are easy to fund. There is only so much money so we routinely postponed the road maintenance until we get more taxes approved. The cost of tires and risk is not for vote, the public can just deal with it. During the county budget hearings, various pockets of money are committed but as the year goes by these pockets vanish from our pampers. I’m tired of reading about dams, dykes and jails, I want to see some ASPHALT.


No way! A government project with cost overruns? I don’t believe it!


The design of the fire walls should have been reviewed and approved by the Fire Marshall long before construction started and an adequate soil testing program should have uncovered the conditions that caused delays. These cost over runs should not be put back on the tax payers.