Go Directly to Jail

I find it interesting how much you can learn from the game of Monopoly®. Buying and selling, paying rent and utilities, and the occasional tax or financial windfall all map pretty well to real life. As well, you can be sent to jail. To get out of Monopoly jail you either spend a series of turns rolling the dice, hoping for the magic combination that gets you released, or you have to pay bail. Of course, in real life bail only keeps you out of jail until your trial is completed, at which time you may still get locked up. Once you are incarcerated, however, I imagine its a lot like sitting on that Jail space on the Monopoly board, waiting for your sentence to be completed while you watch your friends and family continue to move around the board.

I’ve been thinking about the experience of being in jail because last Tuesday (March 1) was the ribbon cutting for our new “Maple Street Correctional Center.” You’ll find it on Maple Street between Highway 101 and Blomquist Street. From 101 the building looks a bit like a high-tech manufacturing plant of some sort:

Head over to the intersection of Maple and Blomquist, however, and you get a different impression. From here it looks more like a high-tech office building:

I have been taking pictures of this site for quite some time. My first picture, which shows drilling for the building’s foundation, was from September of 2013. In actuality construction began a year before that, in July of 2012. In those days it was supposed to be completed in mid-2015, so the project only came in about seven or eight months behind initial expectations.

Seeing this building completed (or nearly so; there are one or two things yet to do, but the first inmates move in on March 19) caused me to do some research on our county jail system. I hadn’t realized that the San Mateo County Corrections Division currently consists of three jails, all of which are in Redwood City:

  • The Maguire Correctional Facility, or main jail, can be found downtown, at 300 Bradford Street. This jail “primarily houses male inmates and provides incarceration and rehabilitative services for pretrial and court-sentenced inmates.” Anyone who has spent any time in downtown Redwood City has seen this place; I believe that it is the tallest building in the city.
  • The Women’s Correctional Center is at 1590 Maple Street. Essentially, this one is behind the Redwood City Police Station, up against Highway 101.
  • The Men’s and Women’s Transitional Facilities are immediately adjacent to the Women’s Correctional Center on Maple (and together with the Women’s Correctional Center are referred to as the “Maple Street Complex Facilities”). They “provide incarceration / rehabilitative services for pretrial and court-sentenced inmates.”

Our new Maple Street Correctional Center (MSCC) adds to these existing facilities, although once it is up and running all of the inmates at both the Women’s Correctional Center and the Men’s and Women’s Transitional Facilities will be moved to MSCC, after which those older facilities will either be closed or repurposed for other uses. In addition to the inmates from those facilities, a number of the inmates from the downtown jail will also be moved, thus relieving some of the overcrowding that the Maguire Correctional Facility is apparently experiencing.

Although the new jail is capable of housing maximum-security male prisoners, for now the county plans to keep them at the downtown facility. Instead, the MSCC will be used only for female prisoners and for minimum- or medium-security males.

To understand the degree to which overcrowding is an issue with our current facilities, I did some poking around on the San Mateo County Sheriff’s website. I also found a 2013 Grand Jury report that provided an overview of the county’s detention facilities. Here are the numbers:

Facility     Rated Capacity  2013 Avg  Jan 2015
Maguire          688           878       701
Women’s CF       84            124       78
M+W Trans.       62            46        39

I’m relieved to see the rather significant drop in the last couple of years, but also shocked at the degree to which our jails were overcrowded back in 2013. In any case, the Maple Street Correctional Center—which can have as many as 832 beds—and the Maguire Correctional Facility together can easily handle the numbers the Sheriff’s Office saw back in 2013.

Lest you get the wrong impression, the new MSCC is not just a building with a series of stereotypical jail cells where people are simply locked up for their specified term. Indeed, while it does have the necessary secure facilities to house the rated number of inmates, it goes well beyond, providing a number of amenities to help inmates prepare to reenter society. From the Grand Jury report:

The new-jail planners have included space in the design for reentry programs and adequate space for inmates to meet with their families. There will be rooms for inmate/child contact visits large enough to accommodate changing tables, restrooms and toys. There will be space for a garden for growing herbs and caring for saplings for the Redwood City Tree Planting program. There will be a roof-top recreation area, a dog run for the T.A.I.L.S. program, and computer kiosks with controlled internet access to be used for law research, online classes, and resume writing.

I’m actually pleased that this enlightened facility is located in Redwood City. And I’m amazed that this project appears to have come in close to, or possibly even under, budget. When was the last time that you heard about a governmental project doing that? Kudos to the Sheriff’s office, to Sares/Regis, and to the many other contractors who contributed to the project. You may all pass Go, and you may all collect your $200.

On a slightly related note, if you drive on Whipple Avenue between Highway 101 and El Camino Real you may have noticed the two beautiful old Arts and Crafts style houses that recently sold:

The blue house, pictured above, is on the corner of Arguello Street and Whipple Avenue, while the other is right next door, at 1219 Arguello. These two classic old houses (the blue one was built in 1890, while the brown one was built in 1908) are zoned as “multi-live/work” and have been used as offices since 1985. If you look closely at the above picture you’ll see that the blue house has been home to a bail bondsman. It also has been the home of Palma & Palma Investigations—a real-life private investigation and security firm. Its next-door neighbor seems to be the offices of David Schnur Associates, a firm that assists with the design and manufacture of medical devices and other complex components. I’m not sure who has assumed ownership of these buildings, and what will become of them, but I did notice on Friday (March 4) that a moving van was ousted. It appeared that someone was moving out of the blue house, at least. I for one hope that the houses remain; they are gorgeous old buildings that deserve to live on (both are on Redwood City’s inventory of Historic Resources).

Speaking of moving, I was hoping that I had written the last about this place back in December of 2013, in my post Merry Christmas, Redwood City!:

It seems that this auto dealership, which is located at the corner of El Camino Real and Whipple Avenue, is once again empty. Long a Mazda dealership, and then briefly a Kia dealership, for the last two years it has been part of the Del Grande Dealer Group selling Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles. But as you can see in the above picture, the signs have all been removed (the last of them were being stripped off the building when I snapped this picture). Curiously, there are no signs—not even a scribbled note taped to a window—directing new and former customers to a new location. And there was no visible warning of their impending departure; it seems that they simply pulled up stakes and quietly slipped out of town one night.

Or did they? After checking out our new jail I headed over to the Boardwalk Auto Mall (on Bair Island Road, east of Highway 101 near Whipple Avenue). And what did I see? Where we once had a Lotus dealership, sandwiched between Boardwalk VW and Towne Mazda, we appear to have a new Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealer:

At the time I took this picture there were no physical signs on the building’s exterior advertising the new operation, but when I peeked inside I could see a prominent sign for each of the four brands. And then, there are the couple of dozen new Chrysler and Jeep vehicles on display in front of the building. And finally, Boardwalk’s electronic sign is periodically welcoming the new brands:

Whomever it turns out owns this new dealership, at least Redwood City isn’t losing the sales taxes that come from selling vehicles made by the Chrysler Corporation. Now if we can just find a new tenant for this prime piece of real estate at the corner of El Camino Real and Whipple Avenue…

Before I wrap up for this week, I wanted to update you once again on the Emerald Market project. I’m checking on it weekly now since it is so close to finishing up. The restaurant spaces continue to gain interior finishes: one has a sushi-bar style counter now, and the other has what looks like a back bar for the display and storage of wine. But what is really exciting is the market itself. Suddenly this space is getting plenty of attention from the developer:

Those wooden cabinets are not what you traditionally see in a market, but consider your typical 7-11 and they make more sense. For instance, that long cabinet in the foreground has a couple of large round holes in its front that could be for cup dispensers. And notice the ice machine and the wire racks—especially the one advertising Nabisco snacks. I could be wrong, but I think that they’ve got a tenant (the “For Lease” sign is still affixed to the building, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much).

Speaking of new tenants, it appears that we’ll be getting a wine bar in one of the Crossing 900 (Box) buildings. Someone has submitted an application for a use permit to allow a wine bar in the 900 Middlefield building (the one closest to the Caltrain station). It appears that the wine bar would be on the ground floor of the north-facing end, looking out over North Plaza:

Naturally, I’ll keep an eye on this, along with the Emerald Market project and all of the other projects going on in Redwood City, and will keep you posted. In the mean time, think about having a game night at your house. Drag out that old Monopoly set that is probably buried in some closet somewhere, dust it off, and call your friends and family to the table. Select your favorite piece (mine is the car) and see if you can be the first one to establish a monopoly! Oh, and stay out of jail…

4 thoughts on “Go Directly to Jail

  1. I am so glad that the new owners of the blue house at the corner of Arguello and Whipple did not demolish the house. In fact, it appears they painted the exterior with the same blue color. I really like that house. 🙂 They did cut the tree next to it along Whipple possibly due to the prevent it from messing up with the foundation of the house.

  2. Thanks for the info on Emerald Market. Can’t wait to see how it ends up. And if it will last. I allways thought it would work well for an office building rather than something that depents on demographic foot traffic. PS. I don’t think our schools teach the skills to play monopoly anymore, or at the very least they teach some kind of anti capitalistic social its bad to be a landlord thing.

    • I’m hoping that a smaller market (if indeed that is what we’re getting) makes sense in that spot and lasts. Parking is already tough there at times; I hope that that doesn’t complicate things too much.

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