Analysis of the public and county participation in land use planning around the jail expansion debate has found that both entities have maneuvered around CEQA’s Environmental Impact Report to stake/deny claims to environmental justice. Santee is a city located in metropolitan county of San Diego that is demographically composed approximately 78% Caucasian, 13% Hispanic and yields a median income of $78,250 (San Diego Association of Governments 2007). Presenting itself in the context of contemporary grassroots organizations fighting against environmental justice and NIMBYism, Santee employed the Presidential Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (February 1994) in its defense to relocate the existing detention facility. While the city attempted to stretch its claim to environmental justice, it became evident in my findings that the county had restricted its own understanding of the “environment” only to physical impacts. My findings provided not only a descriptive study of the complex county-city relationship around controversial issues. In addition, my research also demonstrates how both the county and city’s political engagement around an institution that directly affects and disenfranchises more than 2 million African American and Latino men and women through the language of cost/benefit analysis holds to be extremely problematic. Ultimately, while the debate has been framed as “San Diego county against the city of Santee” this particular case of land use planning lends itself to be understood as one of the many ways that the prison industrial complex can be manifested and perpetuated through the language of cost/benefit analysis while hiding legacies of racism, classism, and sexism.
Key Terms: environmental justice, land use planning, Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility of Santee, NIMBY, Prison industrial complex