Settlement with California county means no approval for treatment center | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

Settlement with California county means no approval for treatment center

May 30, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Under a settlement agreement reached between property owners and San Mateo County, Calif., officials, the site of a wellness retreat center will not be converted to an addiction treatment facility that reportedly would have been operated by American Addiction Centers.

An attorney for the county tells Addiction Professional that the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved the settlement, which does stipulate that the owners of the Stillpath Retreat Center are allowed to re-file their lawsuit against the county if they are unable to sell the property by August 2018.

The lawsuit stemmed from the Board of Supervisors' 2014 vote denying a conditional use permit for converting the retreat center to an addiction treatment use. The county Planning Commission had earlier approved the plans, which had called for a treatment center of more than 60 beds.

Both property co-owner Ray Blatt and the county have been reluctant to comment publicly on the case over the course of its history. Blatt, developer of the Alta Mira treatment center in Sausalito, and his attorney did not reply to a request for comment from Addiction Professional last week.

The county's chief deputy counsel, David A. Silberman, tells Addiction Professional, “We are not inclined to comment on the settlement other than to say that our position was and is that the county did absolutely nothing wrong in declining to approve a request for significantly greater intensity of use at the site and, absent this settlement, the county was prepared to prove the rightness of that position at trial.”

The settlement agreement, under which the county admits no liability, calls for a county payment of $350,000 to Stillpath within 21 days of the agreement's full execution, as well as an additional county payment of $100,000 within five days of being notified of a sale of the property.

The plaintiffs reportedly had evidence that local residents had urged the county to block establishment of a facility that admitted addicts, and therefore planned to pursue an action against the county based on provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act.

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Comments

So, all total, the city/county paid in legal fees and other compensation over a million dollars to prevent a much-needed treatment center locating in their city. This is a bad precedent for future treatment centers. I suspect complaints of the local residents was born from bad press the shady treatment centers have received lately. It's time for all the good treatment centers to band together and speak up! Stigma is everywhere and not exclusive to just addicts.

As a property owner and taxpayer in San Mateo County I can think of many better uses of that money.