Santa Maria jail to close due to budget cuts

June 21, 2017

As part of major budget cuts, Santa Barbara County is closing the Santa Maria jail.  [KCOY]

The move will force law enforcement officers in Northern Santa Barbara County to transport suspects down to Santa Barbara every time they make an arrest. That process will continue until at least 2019, when a new north county jail is expected to be completed.

For years, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors have considering shutting down the existing jail on Foster Road outside of the Santa Maria city limits. The jail costs about $1 million a year to operate, and the new facility is already under construction.

Santa Barbara County’s new budget calls for $5 million in funding cuts for the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office cuts include the elimination of 35 full-time positions, in addition to terminating the operation of the jail.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said if the county were to keep the existing Santa Maria jail open, it would have to backfill the facility with employees from the main jail. In turn, Santa Barbara County’s main jail would be understaffed, Lavagnino said.

The trade-off the county is choosing will result in fewer deputies patrolling in Orcutt, Lavagnino said. Also, anyone who makes an arrest in Santa Maria will have to drive down to Santa Barbara.

Agencies affected by the change include the sheriff’s office, the Santa Maria and Orcutt police departments and the CHP.

Lavagnino said he knows the jail closure will have a huge impact on Santa Maria police and the CHP, but at least now they can build the change into their schedule.

Santa Barbara County is allocating $9.5 million in the current budget for the long-term jail solution, Lavagnino said. The new north county facility, which will be located at Betteravia and Black roads, is expected to ease Santa Barbara County’s jail overcrowding issue.


Having cops spend that much time in transporting arrestees to jail has to be some kind of joke.