SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., June 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Protesters rallied outside of a San Clemente City Council meeting on June 20, 2017, to make their voices heard about a discriminatory 2016 ordinance that targets people with mental illnesses and addiction. The ordinance in question provides zoning regulations restricting short-term lodgings and longer-term transitory housing, prohibiting these types of accommodations in practically every area of the city. The ordinance also includes supplemental operational development standards that supposedly maintain the compatibility of these uses with other uses in the zone in which they are allowed.
Tuesday's protest follows the incident on Tuesday June 13, in which armed federal, state and local officials searched the offices of Sovereign Health's Culver City, Palm Desert and San Clemente facilities. What the authorities termed a "raid" was actually an unnecessary and brutal disruption to doing what the company does best – providing specialized care for patients with behavioral and mental health issues.
The protesters were led by Richard Noble, case manager at Sovereign Health, a leading national provider of behavioral health treatment services based in San Clemente. Mr. Noble spoke outside the council chambers surrounded by protesters, who displayed signs and protested for equal rights to behavioral health patients. The group then moved into the City Council meeting, where several community members voiced their concerns about the ordinances passed by the City of San Clemente. Several Sovereign Health employees joined the protest, including individuals who still feel traumatized by the threats of the armed feds pointing guns at them during the June 13 action at their workplace.
"We're asking for the repeal of city ordinances 1616 and 1622, which is basically a discrimination ordinance violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act," said Mr. Noble. "It takes Americans with disabilities and segregates them away from the community. The reason the City of San Clemente created the ordinances are unfounded: noise and pollution. There is no science or data behind their ordinance."
He explained the value of having behavioral and substance use health facilities in the community, and his own passion for serving some of the most vulnerable Americans. "At the end of the day, treatment facilities and their corresponding residences in the San Clemente community are a privilege to work with, Mr. Noble declared. "I enjoy driving many hours every two weeks to join the dedicated and caring staff at Sovereign San Clemente to educate the community and advocate for the inclusiveness and dignity of the patients at their facilities. He added, "At the start, throughout and end of the day, I see so much love towards the patients with this company. Love is the right thing to do and ultimately the only way to win. It's good to be on the winning team."
Mental health patients are a protected class under federal law. Their rights are guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Despite these constitutional protections, San Clemente public officials are succumbing to localized bigotry and NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard), a dangerous trend that has spread throughout the country wherever treatment centers are located. The danger lies in the fact that the United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and there is a severe shortage of beds in accredited, top-flight facilities such as those at Sovereign Health.
About Sovereign Health
Sovereign Health's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of high-quality behavioral health treatment services for adults and adolescents, including support services for family members. One factor that differentiates Sovereign from other treatment providers has been the company's ability to offer separate mental health and addiction or dual diagnosis treatment programs at its facilities. Sovereign's facilities are licensed and have been awarded Gold Seal accreditation by The Joint Commission, the highest level of accreditation available in the behavioral health field. For more information, visit www.sovhealth.com.
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SOURCE Sovereign Health