Proposed Mental Hospital Draws Criticism, Concerns

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There's a new debate going on in Whitney Ranch. One that has sparked new websites and online forums among the community.

The conversation is over a brand new behavioral health facility and its proximity to Whitney High School, as well as several parks, two elementary schools and a junior high.

"Folks thinking its going to be a criminal psych ward, a danger to the community ... it's our understanding that is not what it's going to be," stated Rocklin's Manager for Special Projects Troy Holt.

To build, or not to build is the issue set to go before the City's Planning Commission on Nov. 17.

The city says the 58,000-square-foot mental hospital meets all the zoning restrictions.

But residents only learned of the plan recently and say safety concerns about potentially dangerous patients wandering the streets is a big issue.

"They've done the bare minimum, and they've put it on the agenda, but is that really the way they want to engage the community," asked resident Joe Patterson. "No, you want to run a community by involving your community."

"Our job is to make sure any development meets the zoned regulations," said Holt. "This particular zoning allows for a medical facility, which is this type of facility."

There are currently no behavioral health hospitals in Placer County. Patients have to go to Sacramento to seek treatment.

Some residents say it's time the area gets a mental hospital, and safety concerns are a fabricated issue.

"Even as a parent it's hard to get in or out of that facility," noted resident Dorothee Moss. "They really do have a high patient-to-staff ratio, so really for someone to get out of the facility ... is a stretch."

"I do believe the location will be hard to mitigate because the proximity to schools isn't going to change," said Patterson. "But we at least need to delay the decision to get some of these questions answered."

Again, the planning commission will discuss the topic at it's scheduled Nov. 17 meeting.