With the new North County Jail, above, still under construction. the city of Santa Maria and other agencies are considering making use of the Lompoc City Jail for booking prisoners to avoid having to drive to the main jail near Goleta. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Lompoc City Jail will provide temporary housing for those arrested in northern Santa Barbara County to avoid law enforcement officers having to drive to Goleta to book arrestees.

On Tuesday night, city councils in Lompoc and Santa Maria are set to consider approving agreements allowing the Santa Maria Police Department to book inmates at Lompoc’s small jail.

Other people arrested by Guadalupe Police, California Highway Patrol officers and Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies also could land in the Lompoc jail.

The agreements will serve as a temporary solution since the Sheriff’s Department closed its substation jail in Santa Maria during the summer for budgetary reasons.

A new 376-bed county jail is under construction at the corner of Black and Betteravia roads. 

“That closure placed a tremendous burden upon law enforcement agencies that previously utilized the Santa Maria Branch Jail,” Lompoc Capt. Deanna Clement said.

Without the substation jail open, law enforcement officers must make the trek to the South Coast to book people who have been under arrest, with prisoner transport sometimes meaning overtime costs.

That trip and booking process can take an officer off the streets for three to four hours, law enforcement officers noted.

For Santa Maria officers, the trip to Lompoc will be 50 miles, instead of 128 miles.

“The SMPD views this agreement as a valuable tool to maintain its level of service to the residents of Santa Maria,” Police Chief Phil Hansen said in a staff report. “By reducing travel time and booking in Lompoc, officer will be more readily available to serve the community.”

The Lompoc City Jail is a Type I facility, meaning inmates — both male and female — can stay for a maximum of 96 hours. Prisoners who have been sentenced cannot be housed there.

With 16 beds and a sobering cell, the Lompoc jail received 2,151 bookings, an average daily population of six prisoners, in 2016.

At capacity, the City Jail could house more than 5,000 prisoners per year, Clement said. 

For the cash-strapped city of Lompoc, the deal would bring much-needed revenue — as some agencies will pay $147 per inmate. 

The agreements could bring the city $270,000 from Santa Barbara County and Santa Maria, according to some estimates. 

Inmates booked into the Lompoc jail must be free of illness and injury and have no medication, physical or mental needs, according to the agreements.

Guadalupe, since its numbers are small, would not be charged with jail bookings typically averaging one per week. The agency also helps provide volunteers for Lompoc events.

The CHP likely will book approximately 50 arrestees per year, many of those being misdemeanors with the person held for six hours. However, the state requires jails to accept CHP inmates without fees.

Once agreements are finalized, the Sheriff’s Department will boost its transportation schedule, which will includes picking up inmates at the Lompoc jail for transport to court in Santa Maria.

“Because of the increased transportation provided by the Sheriff’s Office, the increase in bookings anticipated from the agreements is not likely to create any unsafe conditions,” Clement said in her staff report.

“However, City Jail administrative staff will monitor the anticipated increased bookings and make staffing recommendations as necessary,” Clement added.

The Santa Maria City Council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 110 E. Cook St.

The Lompoc City Councill meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall Council Chambers, 100 Civic Center Plaza.

The council will consider agreements with Santa Maria, Guadalpe, Sheriff’s Department and CHP.

The agreements at both meetings appear on the consent calendars, which include several items typically approved without discussion but with one vote unless a council member pulls it off.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.