ROCKLIN (CBS13) — A contentious meeting pitted residents against a company trying to build a mental-health facility in Placer County some say is too close to a high school.
Universal Health Services officials tried to calm fears on Tuesday by going over its security measures step-by-step with residents. They stressed they will not be treating patients who are criminally insane.READ MORE: International Women's Day: Celebrating Women In The Air Force
The 58,000-square-foot psychiatric hospital at West Ranch Drive and University Avenue would hold 102 beds, be locked and fenced off with security cameras and 24-hour security.
But it would also be right next to a senior-living complex, 600 feet from Whitney High School and a half-mile from a community park.
Rocklin resident Joe Patterson believes the city was late in notifying the public about the project and filed a public records request in October for all communication between city leaders and UHS officials about the hospital.READ MORE: Stockton Gets Poor Ranking In New ‘Happiest Cities’ Study
“In a memo that I found from the open records act, the hospital admitted that there is one escape per year,” he said. “Being 597 feet from a school, where are those one escapees going to go? Is it going to happen during the day, during school time? I don’t know. That’s the point. There has been no analysis on this and I expect our leaders to answer those questions.”
Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence tells CBS13 his department has reached out to seven law enforcement agencies across California and Nevada to better identify and assess the safety issues that come with having a mental-health hospital in their community.
“I haven’t even given my recommendation to the planning commission yet,” he said. “Nothing has been rubber-stamped. We will never bring something to the community that is a danger to its residents.”MORE NEWS: Bernie Sanders Says ‘Extremist Republicans’ Are Behind Effort To Recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom
A second town hall meeting will be held on Dec. 15, while a safety analysis report will be presented to the planning commission on Jan. 19.