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.


I am so happy we are building a new jail. Especially when we can’t afford the current one.


This made me LOL.


As in the past patrol cars will be doing excessive speeds on the 101 to and from the South County Jail


They should not have built the new jail in Santa Maria, but built a new County Government center centered in the County (Buellton) off of US101, including a new jail to house the entire Couty’s criminal population then scaled back jail and Government operations in Santa Barbara to the same level as Santa Maria (Orcutt). The County Supes continue to treat overpriced Santa Barbara as the center of Government regardless of the area being overly expensive to operate, knowing the run-down condition of the county-owned buildings in Santa Barbara, and despite the fact that the South County is no longer the population center of the county.


Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department has been broken ever since Sheriff Jim Thomas retired over 15 years ago.

Bill Brown, the current sheriff is more interested in running around with the Monticito crowd than in managing his department. Morale within the department is non existent.

As for pension costs, many of the counties have separate pension systems; they are not part of PERS and therefore can require higher contribution rates of their employees than the PERS agencies can. Some counties require 50-50 cost sharing with their employees on pension contributions.

The PERS agencies got into trouble when they were allowed to defer pension contributions back when the investments PERS held were making money. These agencies redirected the funds into other projects and then didn’t have the money to close the unfunded liabilities after the economy took a hit and PERS lost money on investments. They have been scrambling ever since to close the gap.


It’s not just the Santa Barbara Sheriff Dept. It’s the whole damn State!!!

With the upcoming Calpers pension collapse, every Government agency in the State is going to be paying for Pension costs instead of providing services:(

Google ” Loyalton’s pension default is a wake up call”, just a early canary in the coal mine warning!!!

All the City’s and County’s in the State got a bill from Calpers this year because they down graded their return on investment portfolio from 7.5% to 7%, when their actual return is closer to zero:(

Why is Bernie Madoff in jail again, oh yea, for running a Ponzi scheme and defrauding private citizens!!!

I guess is different if your defrauding the Taxpaying Public:(

Jorge Estrada

Another aspect, when considering the sir names of the criminals in the news, the bus may heading in the right direction which will shorten the trip home.


Why is the only answer we get from government types in how to deal with budget cuts is to reduce services, we never hear about cutting salaries, benefits or pensions.


Such BS from Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. He has used the SM jail as a pawn in the budget hearings for years, always threatening to close unless the Board of Supes give him what he wants. All his game playing only endangers citizens and deputies lives. Not having enough deputies on patrol anyway (another long term fail of this Sheriff), now there will be less deputies to answer the calls. Remember that when you pick up the phone and dial 911…help may not arrive in time. Be sure to thank Bill Brown.

And you think it’s bad now…wait until the new jail is built (after many cost overruns I’m sure), the elephant in the room is the operating costs. He has low-balled that number for years. Wait until that sticker shock sets in.

Some one should do an in-depth investigation on the mismanagement of the entire Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. The employees deserve it, and the public taxpayers deserve it.


That someone should be their county Grand Jury.