Editor’s Note: The people quoted in this story did not provide the spellings of their names, only verbally spoke them during Tuesday’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting.
As the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors continues deliberations on where to place the county’s violent youth offenders, residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and La Verne both spoke during Tuesday’s regular board meeting to oppose placement in their respective communities.
In the SCV, Camp Scott in Saugus has been placed on a short list of potential future sites for the county’s new Secure Youth Treatment Facility, while Camps Joseph Paige and Clinton B. Afflerbaugh are on the short list for La Verne.
Residents of both areas advocated that Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar is the most appropriate and least disruptive location for the Department of Juvenile Justice youth, which is already where they spend most of their time while in pre- and post-adjudication status, as well as where they are currently housed while Campus Kilpatrick undergoes renovations.
A recent Oct. 1 report released by the California Board of State and Community Corrections specifies the renovations needed to make the Sylmar facility work, noted Joy Ori, a 32-year Saugus resident, adding, “This will meet the complex needs for the DJJ population.”
When the La Verne camps were formed 60-plus years ago, Mayor of La Verne Tim Hepburn said the area consisted primarily of citrus groves.
“There are now thousands of homes up there, all residential, community parks and also schools,” Hepburn said.
Saugus residents Grace Elliott and Sue Fischer concurred with Hepburn, noting that Camps Scott and Scudder are in the middle of their own residential community.
“I live a few feet away from the entrance of the facility,” Elliott said. “Camp Scott and Scudder have received low scores and recommendations have been made not to house these felons in our residential community.”
Masis Hagobian, intergovernmental relations analyst for the city of Santa Clarita, seconded Elliott’s comments, adding, “We’ve identified significant environmental and safety concerns in previous correspondence to both the subcommittee and to the board, and there have been several reports that have been published since that have reaffirmed our concerns, including the Youth Justice Reimagined report… all assessing that Camp Scott is an unsuitable facility.”
Santa Clarita resident Mary Chester said her opinion may be different than most when it comes to Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, as she’s been going to the Sylmar Courthouse located adjacent to the hall for 30 years.
“The behavior of people once they get to the courthouse changes — there’s a different respect,” Chester said. “It is an ideal location because it’s a hub of public service and a hub of law enforcement… The campus is beautiful. It’s got a positive aesthetic, the same thing you would want for a child of yours to finally step aside and come off of that terrible train ride to committing other crimes and be given a chance.”
Although a hard date has not yet been decided upon, county officials said that a decision by the Board of Supervisors would be made by the end of January or early February following a recommendation by the Youth Justice Reimagined subcommittee.