Skillman Neighbors info

Muir Woods Teen Treatment Center Expansion News & Info


2-10-22: BZA HAS DENIED MUIR WOOD SKILLMAN EXPANSION REQUEST on 4-0 vote

4-4-22: Sonoma County Code Enforcement has issued Muir Wood a Code Violation for operation of 2 Residential Treatment Centers on one parcel at 900 Lohrman Ln., Petaluma. "a single facility would remain active. The other facility will not be used".
See Lohrman Lane - 2 Treatment Centers on One Parcel

5-23-22: Muir Wood has acquired an additional property at 1336 Skillman Ln., Petaluma. "Skillman East" is licensed by CDSS as Group Home facility #496890083 for 6 clients. See C D S S Facility Detail 496890083

7-21-22: Muir Wood has acquired an additional property at 501 Sonoma Mountain Rd, Petaluma. "Sonoma Mountain" is licensed by CDSS as Group Home facility #496890088 for 6 clients. See C D S S Facility Detail 496890088

8-8-23: Muir Wood has acquired an additional property at 1030 Thompson Ln., Petaluma. "Thompson Ranch" is licensed by CDSS as Group Home facility #496890100 for 6 clients. See C D S S Facility Detail 496890100 . Since purchase date 0f 6/1/23, Muir Wood has incurred 4 Sonoma County Building Violations. See Muir Wood Thompson History.


NOTICE OF SONOMA COUNTY BOARD OF ZONING ADJUSTMENTS ZOOM PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER A USE PERMIT FOR A LARGE RESIDENTAL COMMUNITY CARE FACILITY at 1743 Skillman Lane, Petaluma
Project Applicant, Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services - Scott Sowle
The Board of Zoning Adjustments will hold a public hearing to consider this item on Thursday, February 10, 2022 at 1:00 pm.

Neighbor Concerns Include

Potential risk to surrounding residents: Sheriff Log of Muir Woods 2013-2021 shows 197 incidents, including run-aways, disturbances, redacted serious incidents.
Noise & lighting from basketball court: Residents up to 1380' from the basketball court, from west of Marin Creek to east of Nunes Rd., report loud yelling, cursing.
Water use: The facility, with potential 20 residents & 20 staff, draws increasing amount of water from already stressed aquifer.
Decrease of property values: Neighbors will have to disclose proximity to Muir Wood treatment center in Real Estate transactions.
Overuse of facility: More than the allowed 6 boys are already observed using the facility.
Overconcentration of facilities: "to be the policy of the state to prevent overconcentrations of residential facilities that impair the integrity of residential neighborhoods."
Gaming the planning system: Incremental increases ending up with 20 residents on a single rural residential property.
Merging of Facilities: The obvious: The 2 Skillman facilities look like one big facility, operate as one big facility with 16 patients.

See: Public Comments Submitted 1/29/22-2/8/22
Letters of Concern to BZA about Muir Wood Treatment Center


Project Description - 1743 Skillman Lane Expansion Proposal

Expansion of existing residential community-care facility at 1743 Skillman Lane, Petaluma, from 6 beds to 10 to support increasing the number of boys aged 12-17 participating in their program. This facility is a separate facility from that which exists at 1733 Skillman Lane, which was approved under UPE14-0018 for 10 beds.
See Project History - 1733 & 1743 Skillman Lane

Sonoma County Planning File Number: UPE20-0008
Applicant Name: Muir Wood Adolescent & Family Services - Scott Sowle
Owner Name: KKS Property LLC
Site Address: 1743 Skillman Lane, Petaluma
Use Permit Expansion Request 11-4-20

Planner: Planning Division, Project Review: Josh Miranda, Planner I, Joshua.Miranda@sonoma-county.org
Board of Zoning Adjustments Commissioners: PlanningAgency@sonoma-county.org

See: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Board-of-Zoning-Adjustments/Calendar/Board-of-Zoning-Adjustments-Meeting-February-10--2022/

Proposal Statement by Muir Wood

Planning Staff Report

Draft Conditions of approval by BZA

Public Comments Submitted 1/29/22-2/8/22

Letters of Concern to BZA about Muir Wood Treatment Center

Complete Document List for Muir Wood Expansion Proposal


Runaways

Sheriff Log of Muir Woods 2013-January 2022 shows 197 calls to Muir Wood Skillman Lane Facilities, including 49 documented runaways from 2014 to January 2022.
Sheriff Log of Muir Woods January 2022-March 2023 shows additional 69 calls to Muir Wood Skillman Lane Facilities, including 21 documented runaways in 2022.
Runaways pose a potential threat to neighbors and their properties.
Nature of many calls have been redacted from Sheriff Logs by their department. See "Sonoma County Sheriff: Types of calls we must redact"

Runaways per year
2014: 4
2015: 4
2016: 6
2017: 5
2018: 3
2019: 5
2020: 13
2021: 9
2022: 21

California Community Care Facilities Act section 1538.7 states:
(a) A group home, transitional housing placement provider, community treatment facility, youth homelessness prevention center, temporary shelter care facility, transitional shelter care facility, or short-term residential therapeutic program shall report to the department's Community Care Licensing Division upon the occurrence of any incident concerning a child in the facility involving contact with law enforcement.
See: California Community Care Facilities Act 1538.7: Facility Reporting of Contact with Law Enforcement
California Community Care Facilities Act 1536: CDSS Publishing of Facility's Contact with Law Enforcement


Lack of Supervision

Runaways:

Muir Wood application for expansion at 1743 Skillman Ln. states:
"Residents at Muir Wood are supervised at all times and are not permitted to leave the premises at any time unless accompanied by staff or with their family".
This statement is obviously NOT true or there would not be a sheriff's log listing 49 documented runaways.

An incident occurred on the 04/01/19 and 04/02/19 in which at least six residents had tattooed each other:

S1 stated the youth used a pen and thumb tack to administer the tattoos. C1 was the youth that came up with the idea while C2 carried out the act of tattooing between approximately 04/01 and 04/02 and included 6 youths in the home. Small tattoos on the inside of fingers."

"Based on observations and interviews there is a lack of supervision. This poses a potential Health, Safety or Personal Rights risk to residents in care."

See State of California Department of Social Services Facility Evaluation Report 4/25/19

There have been 2 incidents reported to CDSS alleging sexual misconduct at Muir Wood 1733 Skillman facility:

See CDSS Facility 496803428 Complaint Investigation Report 12/28/22
and CDSS Facility 496803428 Complaint Investigation Report 5/8/23


Multiple Facilities Bring Huge Profits

Muir Wood currently has 11 residential teen treatment facilities in the West Petaluma area with a total of 70 patients:

1733 Skillman Ln. South, Petaluma, 10 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496803428
1743 Skillman Ln. North, Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496800005
1336 Skillman Ln. East, Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890083
1030 Thompson Ln., Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890100
900 Lohrman Ln. South, Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890062
900 Lohrman Ln. North, Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890077 (closed, no longer licensed, as of 3/8/22: See Lohrman Lane - 2 Treatment Centers on One Parcel)
402 Rebecca St., Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890065
621 Hannan Ranch Ln., Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890074
2055 Magnolia Ave., Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890076
501 Sonoma Mountain Rd, Petaluma, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890088
6868 Cold Springs Rd. North, Penngrove, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890056
6851 Cold Springs Rd. South, Penngrove, 6 patients. C D S S Facility Detail 496890087

According to RehabReviews.com, Muir Wood Teen Treatment costs $33,000 for 30 days per resident.
https://rehabreviews.com/muir-wood-review/

With 70 patients at $33,000 per month per patient, Scott Sowle's Muir Wood Petaluma Treatment Centers could generate up to $2.3 million per month.


Overuse of Facilities

As a 6-bed residential teen treatment center, 1744 Skillman facility is allowed to operate in Sonoma County Residential Zoning without use permit. See Sonoma County allowed Land Uses - Residential Community Care .

In fact, the 1744 Skillman facility is described as "Campus" by Muir Wood. Clients from adjacent 1733 Skilman use the facility, and clients are bussed there every day from Muir Wood "Satellite" bedroom facilities, such as "Skillman East", for all activities. Many more than 6 residents can be seen on a daily basis on the porch, playing sports, lining up at the Learning Center.

The "Campus" includes the "Jennifer Golick Family Learning Center", a school "fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)". Sonoma County requires a use permit for all schools. The "Jennifer Golick Family Learning Center" has no use permit. See Sonoma County allowed Land Uses - Schools .


Overconcentration of Facilities

California Community Care Facilities Act 1520.5 states:

(a) The Legislature hereby declares it to be the policy of the state to prevent overconcentrations of residential facilities that impair the integrity of residential neighborhoods. Therefore, the department shall deny an application for a new residential facility license if the department determines that the location is in a proximity to an existing residential facility that would result in overconcentration.

(b) As used in this section, "overconcentration" means that if a new license is issued, there will be residential facilities that are separated by a distance of 300 feet or less, as measured from any point upon the outside walls of the structures housing those facilities.

The Skillman Lane facilities are adjacent, with a 148 foot separation of outside walls of the structures housing those facilities.

The 2 Skillman facilities look like one big facility, operate as one big facility with 16 patients.


Scott Sowle's Orange County Disaster: Newport Academy, as reported by Orange County Register, January 17, 2020:

"Police sirens and the incidents that prompt them have become facts of life in Orange Park Acres, neighbors said, now that Newport Academy has grown to own 10 local homes for troubled teens

From 2009 through 2015, Newport Academy, under Scott Sowle as Executive Director, had two homes in Orange Park Acres, each housing six residents, the maximum allowed without a special permit. In 2015, Newport Academy asked the city of Orange for permission to double the number of kids allowed in one house, to 12, and add two more in the other house, to 8. The city declined. "In a residential area, you can have a facility like that with only six people," said Leslie Roseberry, the city's planning manager, at the time. "If they were going to find another house at another location, they would be entitled to have six residents there."

That's exactly what Newport Academy did. The state issued licenses to two more Newport Academy houses, each for six residents, in 2016. Two more were licensed in 2018 and two more, again, in 2019.  Also, two more licenses are pending. If all were licensed, that would bring the total number of Newport Academy homes in Orange Park Acres to 11, serving up to 66 children. At a cost of more than $1,000 per child, per day, 11 homes could generate revenue of about $2 million per month. A typical stay runs 60 to 90 days.

Since 2017, local police and sheriff departments responded to more than 200 emergency calls connected to Newport Academy addresses in Orange Park Acres. These included more than 40 reports involving "missing juveniles," or runaways; and 17 calls for minors posing a danger to themselves or others, resulting in involuntary holds, according to data from the Orange Police Department and Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Teens running away from Newport Academy homes in Orange Park Acres have been found hiding in foliage, behind garages, wandering at night in dark and dangerous streets, neighbors said. Some have appeared on front porches at the crack of dawn, beseeching neighbors to help them escape.

Of the 204 emergency calls examined, more than 20 involved mental health crises, including at least three attempted suicides. There were two reports of lewd conduct involving minors, as well as reports of an assault, battery and burglaries, according to the data.

Neighbors say Newport Academy is clearly a business, and businesses aren't supposed to operate in residential neighborhoods."

For more information see: Orange County Register January 17, 2020 - Newport Academy


Analysis

By Tobias and Michelle Young, from letter to Mr. Wick, David Rabbitt, and Planning Staff:

...Our family and concerned neighbors have carefully considered the background of the Muir Wood facility on Skillman Lane in Petaluma. The more information we have gathered, the more concerned we are about our safety and the impact of the treatment center. With the information at hand so far, we are asking Permit Sonoma to deny the proposed Muir Wood expansion. We are also asking Permit Sonoma, as required under its conditions, to revoke Muir Wood's prior use permit based on violating its conditions and constituting a nuisance...

See complete letter by Tobias and Michelle Young 1/20/22


Filing Complaints

Use Permit Violations
Email: PRMD-Enforcement@sonoma-county.org

Community Care Licensing Division Complaint Hotline
Phone: 1-844-LET-US-NO (1-844-538-8766)
Email: letusno@dss.ca.gov


Documents

BZA Complete Document List for Muir Wood Expansion Proposal at 1743 Skillman Ln

Board of Zoning Adjustments Approval of UPE14-0018 1733 Skillman "The establishment, maintenance or operation of the use for which application is made will not, under the circumstances of this particular case, be detrimental to the health, safety, peace, comfort and general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of such use, nor be detrimental or injurious to property and improvements in the neighborhood or the general welfare of the area"

Use Permit Conditions of Approval UPE14-0018 1733 Skillman "Condition #40: This permit shall be subject to revocation or modification by the Board of Zoning Adjustments if: (a) the Board finds that there has been noncompliance with any of the conditions or (b) the Board finds that the use for which this permit is hereby granted constitutes a nuisance."

Use Permit Expansion Request 11-4-20 "Residents at Muir Wood are supervised at all times and are not permitted to leave the premises at any time unless accompanied by staff or with their family".

Sheriff Log of Muir Woods 2013-January 2022
Sheriff Log of Muir Woods January 2022-March 2023
State of California Department of Social Services Facility Evaluation Report 4/25/19
C D S S Facility Detail 1733 Skillman
C D S S Facility Detail 1743 Skillman

California Community Care Facilities Act 1520.5: Overconcentration of Facilities
California Community Care Facilities Act 1538.7: Facility Reporting of Contact with Law Enforcement
California Community Care Facilities Act 1536: CDSS Publishing of Facility's Contact with Law Enforcement

Revoking of Use Permit
Revocation and denial of Use Permits for Muir Wood treatment center A letter signed by 25 neighbors

Public Comments Submitted 1/29/22-2/8/22
Letters of Concern to BZA about Muir Wood Treatment Center

Yelp Reviews: Muir Woods Teen Treatment

Petaluma Argus Courrier 2-10-22 - Rural Petaluma neighborhood fighting juvenile treatment center expansion
Petaluma Argus Courrier 2-10-22 - Muir Wood youth treatment center expansion plans scuttled by Sonoma County board


current 2nd facility, built as "single family dwelling"

Muir Wood states "The existing facility ... treats no more than six boys at any given time."
We count 22 on & nearby the porch, photo taken 2/2/22. click to enlarge:

basketball court in use by 8 residents.

 

email Skillman Neighbors : skillman@skillmanneighbors.org