The city of Chula Vista is bracing for a controversial decision Tuesday night when officials on the city council will weigh whether to issue a conditional use permit for a 120-bed behavioral health facility in the city’s Eastlake community.
“This is one of the most controversial issues in the last several years for the city council,” Councilman John McCann declared.
The Eastlake Behavioral Health Hospital would be located between an industrial park and a neighborhood in McCann’s council district.
Brad Davis lives in that neighborhood and has spent a considerable amount of energy fighting Scripps Health and Acadia Behavioral Health’s project. He said he’s concerned about safety and the location. He also questioned the review process for the psychiatric hospital.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
“It was kind of hard to believe that they would want to build a large hospital pretty much in a neighborhood,” said Davis as he stood in a grassy area between his home and the lot designated for the hospital.
“We thought it was a great location,” said Scripps Health South Region CEO Tom Gammiere.
Gammiere said Scripps Health partnered with Acadia Behavioral Health on the venture. Speaking on behalf of both companies, Gammiere said San Diego County desperately needed more facilities for people who need mental health care.
“In San Diego alone, we have less than half the psychiatric beds we need,” Gammiere said. “This will provide a tremendous resource to the people that live in the South County.”
Davis said he wasn’t opposed to a facility near his house.
“What we’re opposed to is the potential relationship between the city and Acadia,” Davis said. “We’re concerned that they’re not good neighbors.”
Davis said he’s concerned about complaints and lawsuits at Acadia’s other facilities across the country. Gammiere disagreed and said Acadia is the perfect partner.
“We wanted an expert in the field, somebody who had a broad range of experience,” Gammiere said.
“People are passionate on both sides of this issue,” Councilman McCann said.
McCann said the council will listen to both sides, but either decision will likely lead to an appeal that will delay the project.
“I’m glad we’re finally going to have a vote on it to make sure that people know what’s actually going to be happening,” McCann said.
“The need is significant,” said Gammiere. “If we can build out these services and we can provide them in the community, we can really make a difference and prevent a lot of things.”
Davis said he just wants Chula Vista to do a thorough investigation. He said the review process to get this far cut corners.
“Look, at the very least, protect your citizens,” Davis said.
Gammiere said he’d like an advisory board in place to help address any of the community’s concerns. The facility could be ready for patients as early as 2025 if everything goes as planned, he said.
The Chula Vista City Council will begin discussing the facility at 6 p.m. Tuesday.