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Orange County Focus

GARDEN GROVE : Council Opposes Mental Health Site

September 23, 1993|ROBERT BARKER

The City Council reversed its position of two weeks ago and voted unanimously Tuesday night against a proposed Orange County mental-health center that was to be housed in a neighborhood shopping area.

After hearing an outpouring of protest from nearby residents, the council decided that the center would be a regional facility drawing clients from other cities and would not be in compliance with the city's master plan.

The center would have each week treated about 100 mentally ill people who also have alcohol- and drug-abuse problems.

Residents claimed that clients are prone to unpredictable behavior and would pose a danger to children. There are three schools and a park near the proposed site at Magnolia Street and Orangewood Avenue.

Douglas C. Barton, deputy director of mental health services for the Orange County Health Care Agency, said the clients are nonviolent and more likely to be the victims of crime.

Barton blamed unfounded stereotyping of mentally ill people for residents' opposition, which he declared "classic NIMBY (not in my back-yard) syndrome."

Barton said the center would provide psychiatric therapy, medication and counseling on an outpatient basis.

Mark Leyes, one of three council members who changed votes on the matter, said the city vote wasn't a denial of the mental-health center, but only a declaration that it didn't comply with city intentions for the area.

He said in an interview that the county still has the authority to place the mental-health center at the location. But Barton said his agency had given up on the site as a result of city action.

"We'll honor their decision and move on to another facility," he said. Another site in the city will be sought, he said.

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