Assemblymember Dodd and Senator McGuire respond to SDC draft closure plan

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Bill Dodd issued a strong response to the draft Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) closure plan released late last week. Both McGuire and Dodd represent the SDC in the California legislature and have spent months working with state and local officials, families and residents to ensure a safe and seamless transition for the nearly 400 people who remain there today and who are some of the most medically fragile in the developmental services system.

“We are incredibly disappointed with the draft plan that was put forward last week. The report is inadequate and lacks the specific details that we as a community expected, and quite frankly, were led to believe would be delivered,” Dodd and McGuire stated in a prepared response to the state Department of Developmental Services. “We already know that the Sonoma Developmental Center is home to the state’s most medically fragile residents and we know that, in past transitions, some residents have struggled to succeed in community placement. It is unacceptable that this draft plan lacks any details about contingency planning for these residents, and others who may not thrive in the community. This report essentially takes a wait and see position on care: Wait and see if residents struggle or fail in the community, and then act to make changes. This reactive approach is unnecessary, contrary to good medical practice and does not respect the residents.”

SDC, which is home to about 400 residents and a place of work for 1,200 employees, is currently slated for a 2018 closure. Last week’s draft plan neglects the possibility of transforming the SDC site during the closure process into a location with community and housing services for the residents and people served through regional centers.

 “Their commitment to dental, behavioral, and other specialty services on the site through the closure process is a vital component of ensuring that the residents are placed in the best-possible situation. We will be fighting for an ongoing medical and specialty hub on the SDC campus – including keeping dental and behavioral services in perpetuity – and will work with the department to review the possibility of a federally qualified health clinic and housing for residents on site. As suggested in the Governor’s Task Force on the future of the Developmental Centers, we will be pushing to transition the developmental center into a placement of last resort for those who may not do well in community placement,” McGuire and Dodd stated.  

Senator McGuire and Assemblymember Dodd were pleased the report contained a commitment to keeping the Sonoma Developmental Center land from entering surplus status, and that the local community will be directly involved in the future decision making process related to the land. Dodd and McGuire said that they would continue to push to ensure the residents, who have lived on the land for decades, will have continued access to it as well.

Once finalized, the SDC closure and transition plan will come to the full legislature, where the entire delegation, Senators McGuire and Wolk, and Assemblymembers Dodd, Wood, and Levine, will be focused on ensuring that the safety of SDC’s residents is guaranteed.