Though the Public Comment portion of the Butte County Supervisor's Meetings is not an agendized item and normally would not bring comments from Supervisors, District Four Supervisor Steve Lambert spoke up before Manzanita parents approached the podium and gave his concerns to fellow supervisors.
Lambert told supervisors that while he agrees with the concept of a residential drug treatment facility it is a terrible idea to have one allowed near a school.
Brandon Oakley, who is heading up the Manzanita Parents Coalition is an Investigator with the Sutter County District Attorney's Office and has responded to many calls for service at several residential drug treatment facilities. Some of the calls he has responded to included fights between clients and staff, possession of narcotics, theft, vandalism, parole and probation violations, arrest warrants, vehicle thefts and burglaries of property belonging to the neighbors, suicidal subjects and missing person reports when the clients decided to leave the facility, which was against the rules of the facility as well as the orders of the court.
"Some of these people are criminals that are on probation and parole who broke laws multiple times to earn a spot in prison and jail. In case you aren't aware, correctional staff in jails and prisons remove drugs and drug paraphernalia from inmates on a daily basis. It is very common for those who visit inmates, to bring inmates drugs and drug paraphernalia. So if anyone thinks this facility will prevent that, they are living in a fantasy world. If you know anything about drugs, you also know they cause people to become irrational, mentally unstable and often times violent," Oakley told the Supervisors and packed room, many of them there on this matter.
Oakley told Supervisors he has watched neighborhoods turn into areas of high foot traffic at all hours of the day and night for the purpose of committing narcotic offenses and theft related crimes, often having to chase people through these facilities who attempted to escape arrest.
"Often times they would try to escape by running out the back door or trying to sneak out through a window and jump the back fence; trespassing on someone else's property. I've had several physical confrontations with people in these facilities who were under the influence of a controlled substance. Sometimes I learned the drugs the clients used were so generously provided by someone who visited them. It's not a matter of if this will happen, it's a matter of when it will happen," Oakley stated.
Oakley told those in attendance that he had spoken with the Butte County Sheriff's Office and was told that a typical response time to Gridley is about 20 minutes. "Gridley does not have a resident Deputy assigned to our community and this wouldn't solve the problem anyway. All it takes is one call for service to take that Deputy away from being able to respond to the school. All it takes is one person, whether they are under the influence of drugs or trying to escape from law enforcement to jump that fence and run right into our school," he said.
Oakley ended by stating he wasn't asking Supervisors to magically prevent this facility from being established next to the school, but he was asking that they consider how they would feel if it were one of their children or grandchildren who would be attending a school next to a drug treatment facility.
"I am also asking you to do everything in your power to make sure the owner of the facility adheres to every single law that she is legally required to. Our children and this community deserve it. Thank you," he said.
Becky Harrison old Supervisors of the ramifications she has seen at a drug treatment facility first hand.
Harrison has been on staff at the Feather River Men's Center in Live Oak for 20 years. Feather River Men's Center is a State licensed, faith based one year inpatient drug and alcohol rehab located in Live Oak for over 27 years.
"The information and advice I share today is first-hand, not suspicion or theory, as decisions are made, our number one goal should be the safety of our children and community," she stated.
Harrison told Supervisors that the question is not if everyone believes in helping and restoring broken people, 'as I believe most in this room believe in helping men and women get free from the drug and alcohol epidemic that sweeping across our Country, the question should be how safe is it to put a drug rehab next to a school?'
She went on to tell Supervisors that the Live Oak facility has put fences up around their property, have an alarm system and 24 hour onsite staff and has had men relapse, bring drugs in, fight, run from the police and parole officers and run into the neighbor's houses to escape getting caught.
"We have had multiple people throughout the years sneak out at night. We have a no fly zone meaning we do not tolerate these behaviors and if they break our rules they disqualify themselves from our program," she stated.
Harrison asked that Supervisors research the new rehab policy and procedures, the Executive Director who will need to be extremely strong with people who have street, jail and prison backgrounds and ask how many night time staff will be onsite to the number of clients.
"What are their house rules? You need to ask if the new rehab is willing to also keep the children and community safe by putting up a secure fece and alarm system and if they are not will the school take more measures to keep the children safe," Harrison said.
Susan and Keith Matson purchased the property at 606 Center Avenue on January 11, 2017 for $415,000 and currently have the property listed online as a nine bedroom property for $550 with just 1,755 sq. ft.
The Manzanita Parent Coalition can be found at https://facebook.com/protectourmanzanitachildren with an opportunity to vote against opening a residential drug and alcohol rehab facility next to the school putting the safety of children and staff at risk.
Concerns of the parents include the many different events held at the school site outside of school hours, the possibility of school lockdowns becoming a common occurrence and the approximate 20 minute response time from the Butte County Sheriff's Department.
Parents are concerned with the close proximity of clients of Integrity House walking to the closest store, walking along the school fence where children play and the possibility of the children no longer being able to use school playground facilities after hours or on weekends without parental supervision.