Taxpayers Pay $83,000 a Month to Air Condition Empty Jail

Alameda County is spending $83,000 a month to heat and air condition a downtown Oakland jail that has been closed since June.

“And taxpayers will probably keep paying the $1 million-a-year utility bill for the 20-story Glenn Dyer Detention Facility for some time to come as Alameda County officials decide what to do with the empty jail,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “Opened in 1984, the 800-bed facility was mothballed in June as a cost-cutting measure amid rising expenses and a county inmate count that had dropped to 400. Earlier this year the last of the Dyer inmates, most of whom were on federal detention, were transferred to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.”

“Providing adequate ventilation to the interior is critical to maintaining the facility regardless of occupancy,” Alameda County General Services Agency Director Willie A. Hopkins Jr. said. Ventilation keeps the nearly windowless facility from becoming dank, while the lack of ventilation would “expedite mold and mildew growth,” Hopkins said.

Another complication is that the utility system is linked to an adjacent courthouse that is in use.

In July, mayors from 14 cities discussed repurposing the jail as a homeless center. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors agreed and offered to lease the jail for $1 a year. The homeless shelter idea “died quickly when homeless advocates said housing people in a former jail would be inhuman,” the Chronicle reported. (Source: San Francisco Chronicle, September 29.)

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