Mayor Donald Freitas said he would propose a formal resolution opposing any attempt to build a detention facility in his city.
"This is a no-brainer," he said. "With the increase in crime we've seen, the last thing we need is a jail. ... It would be located near high schools, residences, proposed businesses. The whole thing just seems very convoluted."
County supervisors voted Tuesday to explore selling one of five properties to the state for a 500-bed "re-entry facility" where inmates who used to live in Contra Costa would receive career counseling, housing assistance and other services before release.
One of the five sites is a 16-acre plot a mile south of Deer Valley High School. Compared with other possible sites near the Marsh Creek Detention Facility east of Clayton, the intersection of Interstate 80 and Cummings Skyway in Rodeo and two plots of land near the Benicia Bridge, the Antioch locale is the one closest to residential housing.
Councilman Arne Simonsen said building a prison in Antioch would be "devastating."
"It's totally opposite to what the general plan calls for in that area," Simonsen said, adding that the city is hoping to build high-end housing on the land. "I don't think the county proposal takes into consideration what impacts it would have on surrounding areas."
Antioch is struggling to restore an image battered by a slumping housing market and a spike in violent crime. City officials have taken aggressive steps to stem neighborhood blight and quell the problem of rowdy juveniles.
Councilman Jim Davis said that as far as he's concerned the county only has four sites to consider, explaining that Antioch is simply not an option.
"It will not happen," he said. "We'll fight; we'll protest; we'll demonstrate; we'll do whatever it takes."
Councilman Reggie Moore summarized the plan as "crazy" and said a prison would only hurt the city's quality of life, while Councilman Brian Kalinowski argued that a prison did not adhere to the image Antioch is trying to build.
In a letter to city officials Tuesday, District V Supervisor Federal Glover voiced "strong opposition to placing a prison in Antioch or in any location in Contra Costa County."
"Please know that as this issue goes before the County Board of Supervisors for a vote on March 11th," Glover wrote, "I will vigorously oppose the proposal and will work strongly to defeat it as an option for any future prison or detention facility."
At Tuesday's supervisor meeting, however, Glover did not raise objections to the plan and voted with the other supervisors to explore the possibility of selling one of the five locations to the state.
He did not return a call Wednesday afternoon seeking further comment.
"We need to be sure our supervisor (Glover) can get the other two votes necessary to kill this proposal from ever seeing the light of day," Freitas said.
Simon Read covers Antioch. Reach him at 925-779-7166 or email@example.com.