CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A proposed behavioral health facility in the Eastlake area of Chula Vista is still in its very early stages of planning but already drawing a lot of attention from nearby neighbors living in the Rolling Hills Ranch area.
Scripps Health first announced its partnership and plans for the center with Acadia Healthcare in February. Plans stayed mostly off the radar of local residents until recently.
"It’s not a not in my backyard situation. It’s an improper location with an improper partnership," said Bill Stellin, who lives in Rolling Hills Ranch.
Stellin, who has also worked in mental health facilities and in special education, wants to make it clear the neighborhood is not against mental health but are very much in favor of the safety of their community.
The proposed facility would move in to the District at Eastlake commercial area at 830/831 Showroom Place.
"Right here where we're standing is my son’s bus stop. I could throw a ball on the lot where they’re going to build this facility," said Rebekah Edwards, another Rolling Hills Ranch neighbor.
Edwards has worked as an EMT or paramedic for the last 20 years. Working in the medical field makes her well aware of the potential effects of having a center so close to a neighborhood.
"How are they going to protect those kids and make sure that everyone is safe? And that goes for both ways both the patient and the people," said Edwards.
Scripps is promising a safe and secure environment, saying in a statement to FOX 5:
"The facility will provide safe, quality care for patients who are greatly underserved. Acadia and Scripps will be working to help ensure the new facility meets both patients’ needs and those of the community. "
As far as the status of that center actually being built, the City of Chula Vista confirmed to FOX 5 it has received a pre-application from Acadia Healthcare regarding the construction of a 120-bed, one-story acute care psychiatric hospital.
Scripps has stated it hopes the facility will be open and operating by 2023.
The city says if and when a formal application is submitted., notices will be mailed to all surrounding residents. A formal application still has not been submitted and the land’s owner, Mike Vogt, confirms a sale is not yet final.
Additional concerns from local residents include the release of patients near their neighborhood, response times for fire and police to the area, and potentially lowered property values.
Residents in the area are being proactive in this process and have already started a petition against the center, which had more than 500 signatures in less than 24 hours.