The proposed mental health hospital that Universal Health Systems was hoping to build in Rocklin, near Whitney High School, may have taken a devastating one-two punch on Tuesday.
Both the Planning Commission committee and the police chief recommended to deny UHS the permit to build the facility at the proposed location, which is only 600 feet from Whitney High School.
A resolution was posted on the city's website stating: "Based on the information available, most particularly the analysis prepared by the Rocklin Police Department, in conjunction with the preponderance of written testimony received from the general public, the site proposed for the Northern California Behavioral Health Hospital does not provide sufficient separation for adequate response times in a worst case scenario and would potentially allow registered sex offenders to temporarily dwell within 2,000 feet of a school."
Police Chief Ron Lawrence explained to FOX40 the concern over the distance. Saying it has two parts.
"The locking down of the school, needing a certain amount of time to lock down the school. The second one has more to do with Jessica's Law, in reference to sex offenders. Although, sex offenders who are patients aren't necessarily residing at the hospital," Lawrence said.
Lawrence and his staff have been working on their own report since October over public safety concerns from the community if the facility were to be built at the proposed site.
"The intent of Jessica's Law maintains that 2,000 feet or more between sex offenders and sensitive area's such as schools and parks is a good barometer. And so we felt that intent was good for our community as well," he added.
Universal Health Services formally asked to postpone the Rocklin Planning Commissions scheduled upcoming vote on the hospital, set for January 19. They had no other comment.
At the same time, the committee requested that UHS not be allowed to reschedule the vote.
In a written statement to FOX40 late Wednesday evening, Bob Deney who is the senior vice president of the Behavioral Health Division at UHS said:
"We are considering all options with respect to our application to build a behavioral health hospital at the currently proposed site, including withdrawing the application. Although we previously analyzed about 30 different properties in south Placer County, we will take another hard look at alternative locations inside and outside of the city of Rocklin.
In our view, Police Chief Lawrence’s report provides a fair and balanced picture of the experience of behavioral health hospitals across multiple jurisdictions. It validates what we have been saying for weeks to the community: There is no evidence showing that these facilities pose a risk to the general public.
Our company remains committed to bringing much needed behavioral health services to this region and hope that, if we propose an alternative site on which to build a behavioral health hospital, the information relied upon by city officials and community members will be fact-based and not grounded in conjecture."
Regardless of what happens, Placer County is in desperate need of a behavioral health facility. If it succeeds, it would be the first of its kind in the county.