Measure B Committee Recommends Purchase of Redwood Valley Church for Mental Health Trainings

Jul 10, 2019

July 10, 2019 — Sheriff Tom Allman said he was satisfied with the direction the Board of Supervisors took yesterday on the latest recommendation by the Measure B Citizens' Oversight Committee. That committee is tasked with making recommendations to the board about how to spend special county tax money that’s been earmarked for mental health. The board recently approved a recommendation to hire an administrative project manager who would oversee the development of three kinds of treatment facilities. But the law also allows the money to be used for a regional training facility.

Early Monday morning, Measure B committee members took a tour of a property that Allman, who chaired the committee for its first year, thinks could be a model for mental health training centers state-wide. It’s the Jehovah’s Witness Church on East Road in Redwood Valley, within sight of the center of town. The asking price is $369,000. 

The 2300 square foot church includes 120 theater-style seats (which would be removed), a slightly raised stage with little cubicles on each side, a big office space, and two ADA bathrooms.

Committee member Ross Liberty called it “a screaming deal,” and threatened to buy it himself if the supervisors didn’t go for it. 

But at the sit-down committee meeting that followed the tour, two committee members were skeptical. Member Shannon Riley, who is also Ukiah’s deputy city manager, cast the lone dissenting vote on the motion to recommend that the board give the go-ahead for purchase negotiations on the property. She said she didn’t see anything preventing trainings now, and that she doesn’t think Redwood Valley is ideal for a centrally located facility anyway. And member Jan McGourty, who represents the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, said she was concerned about traffic on that road and the ongoing costs of maintaining a building. McGourty fought hard for an ad hoc committee that would engage in long term planning, and said she was hesitant about making a decision on a deal that hadn’t been discussed by an ad hoc committe. A recent grand jury report on Measure B said the eleven-member committee was unwieldy, and recommended more ad hocs to move things along. McGourty abstained on the vote at the end of the meeting.

But Riley’s questions kicked off an inconclusive discussion about permitted uses for the church building, which is zoned rural residential. Nash Gonzalez, of the county’s Planning and Building Department, said that a facility that is not strictly for police or firefighter use and includes an educational component, would require a major use permit, which triggers CEQA and maybe also a sprinkler requirement. Realtor Lynn McMenomey had another reading of the same code, reeling off a list of allowable civic uses for the property, which she believes includes the proposed mental health trainings.

CEO Carmel Angelo, who sits on the committee and is also the county’s purchasing agent, said the matter would come before the board in closed session at the July 9th meeting, which was yesterday, the day after the special Measure B meeting. If the board took the committee’s recommendation to buy the property using a combination of funds from Measure B and the sheriff’s department, then Angelo would send a letter to the realtor today, July 10, initiating negotiations. 

Parties to closed session proceedings are not at liberty to discuss the details. So yesterday, Allman said only that he was satisfied with the direction the board chose.