Before it was closed in 1997, the Sybil Brand Institute was the primary LA County correctional facility for women. Since its closure, the Institute has laid mostly vacant and underutilized, but it presents a unique opportunity for a new, creative vision. To ensure that this facility provides benefits to the surrounding high need unincorporated community, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, that commissions a feasibility study for the adaptive reuse of the Sybil Brand Institute and the broader Eastern Hill area, where it is located.
“Sybil Brand dedicated her life to humanitarian causes, specifically to improve conditions and outcomes for incarcerated women,” said Supervisor Solis. “As LA County moves away from punishment and incarceration, and towards diversion and rehabilitation, it is appropriate that we are examining how this closed jail can be readapted to benefit the greater community. It is especially poignant that this facility is named after Sybil Brand: I believe she would be happy today.”
Today’s action directs the LA County Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to conduct a detailed feasibility study and strategic planning process for the adaptive reuse of Sybil Brand Institute and the Eastern Hill area with a focus on economic development, affordable housing, and open and recreational space. LA County departments, such as the Homeless Initiative, the Department of Public Works, the Sheriff’s Department, Health Agency, and others, will engage with community stakeholders to determine options for reuse. The CEO is directed to report back to the Board of Supervisors by December 1, 2019 on the study and a strategic plan to identify short- and long-term reuse opportunities.
The Sybil Brand Institute was built in 1963 with a design capacity of 900 and had a peak occupancy of 2,800. The Institute was damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake and was closed in 1997 because of its poor physical condition. The campus, which includes facilities that encompasses more than 315,000 square feet, is currently used for filming, storage, and other County purposes.