Sacramento City Council vote on planned psychiatric hospital postponed

In a surprising turn of events, the Sacramento City Council postponed a vote on a proposed psychiatric hospital in the Woodlake neighborhood Tuesday night.

At the beginning of the 6 p.m. meeting, Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby unexpectedly announced that the item would be continued for one week because of the difficulty in adding council member Steve Hansen, who is traveling in New York, into the meeting via teleconference. Mayor Kevin Johnson was not at the meeting when the announcement was made but arrived shortly afterward.

City regulations require that the hotel where Hansen is staying put up public notice of the meeting, Ashby said, but the hotel refused to do so.

“I’m very sorry. It is procedural,” Ashby told the crowd gathered at City Hall. “We won’t be discussing it at all.”

About 75 neighbors abruptly got up and left following the announcement. Many expressed frustration, noting that the item had previously been postponed.

James Van Hill with the Woodlake Neighbors for Creating Transparency called the latest delay a “tactic to deflate” the public response.

“The city wants this to die down,” Van Hill said. “That’s my gut feeling.”

In an interview, Ashby denied the claims, explaining that the item was postponed out of “professional courtesy and procedure.”

“You would literally be leaving out one-eighth of the city,” she said. “Hansen wanted to be included.”

The plan by Signature Healthcare Services to build a 120-bed facility on Expo Parkway, across from Highway 160 in north Sacramento, has generated a tremendous backlash in the community.

Outside City Hall an hour before the meeting, about 40 protesters carried signs and chant, “Psych hospital go away, we don’t want you anyway.”

While the proposed site sits near other medical facilities, residents said they have compiled more than two dozen concerns with the hospital, namely public safety and environmental issues.

The 70,860-square-foot hospital would include a 24-hour intake facility and outpatient care space, according to a city staff report.

Neighborhood leaders have vowed to take the city to court if the council green-lights the plan.