A state prisons spokesman said that while the Chino is a possible sites for more beds in the near future, prisons in San Diego and Ione are more likely candidates.
Chino Mayor Dennis Yates and Chino Hills Mayor Peter Rogers earlier this month expressed strong objection to a proposal to added as many as 2,100 more beds in the state, with Chino has one of the candidates.
Prison officials responded by saying more likely sites are a 792-bed level II expansion at R.J. Donovan Prison, in San Diego, and a 1,584-bed level II expansion at Mule Creek State Prison, in Ione, southeast of Sacramento.
"I hate to say something and then something unexpectedly comes up in the environmental impact report, so right now we're strongly looking at those two sites, but we have to look at all the sites equally," said Dana Simas, spokeswoman for the state California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"I really can't say one way or the other how positive I am but those are the ones we've put a lot of energy in, and we hope it goes to the plan that we've set out already."
Simas said that if the two main candidates do not work out, they will then consider sites in Sacramento, Folsom, Solano, Vacaville, as well as CIM in Chino.
Senate Bill 1022 has given prison officials the authorization to build new facilities but at the same time mandating them to close the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco in three years, which has been extremely costly to run due to continuous maintenance issues.
The changes are part of ongoing efforts to improve conditions at California's prisons and to reduce cost.
All the chosen prisons house level II inmates, who are lower level offenders, typically white collar or financial crimes, drugs, or property offenses, not convicted rapists or murders, Simas said.
The expansion would not add a different population of inmates.
Prison officials plan to host a Wednesday meeting at 3 and 6 p.m. at Chaffey College Chino Community Center, in Chino, to go over what is called the "Level II Infill Correctional Facilities Project."
The meeting will detail the project and will allow for public comment as a required provision of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Prison officials will then take public concerns, comments and compile them into a "draft environmental impact report" detailing possible impacts to each community if the project is built.
This report should should be complete in the spring.
Local officials however have not taken the news lightly. At the Chino City Council meeting earlier this month Yates said he plans to fight prison officials if the outcome calls for the expansion of CIM prison.
"Adding to the current prison population would have significant social and economic effects on the community as this proposed facility would be located in proximity to current and future residents, as well as Chaffey Community College, and Ayala Park, the city's largest park and sports facility," Yates said in a news release.
Neighboring Chino Hills Mayor Peter Rogers said he too has concerns.
"They first need to deal with the over-capacity that currently exists at CIM," he said. "The correctional facility is well over capacity even with the reductions they've done with prison reductions recently."
CIM was at more than double its design capacity in December 2004. Now, it's at 160 percent of capacity with 4,753 inmates at a a facility designed to hold 2,976 - more than a 35 percent drop according to prison officials.
Simas said they are open to working with local officals on the infill projects moreover they feel there are benefits that go along with the projects.
"The double facility that is 1,500 beds would bring 350 jobs to the area permanently and it also needs to be constructed, so there is subcontracting availability to local business," she said.
"We feel like this would be a benefit to local agencies, that's why we want to work so closely with them ... we're really engaging the local on this we want to hear their comments. We don't want to go somewhere where there is going to be a huge issue if we don't have to."
Jennifer Mallo, owner of The Cario House in Chino Hills, said she is against any expansion, not only from a business standpoint but also because she lives in Chino.
Her fitness facility is about south of CIM.
"There is always going to be a possibility of something going wrong, and even though it hasn't happen but a criminal getting loose," she said.
Simas said officials will do their best to take concerns into consideration, but at the end of the day "we have to do this."
"Obviously we want to have it be in the least contentious way possibly because we do want it to benefit the community, and a community that really wants it," she said.
"But at the end of the day we have to go where this is going to work and hopefully everything goes smoothly and we can go through with our proposed projects."
The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will host a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the possible expansion of facilities at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
The notice of preparation for the construction is the first step in the preparation of an environmental impact report that will address the potential placement of level II infill correctional facilities at CIM as well as four other proposed sites.
Meetings are at 3 p.m. and again at 6 at the Chaffey College Chino Community Center, 5890 College Park Ave., Chino.
Reach Canan via email, call her at 909-987-6397 ext. 425, or find her on Twitter @ChinoValleyNow.