The Schraeders’ Multi-Million Dollar Psych-Motel

The Supervisors rubberstamped the huge gift of a gold-plated “Crisis Residential Treatment” building next door to the Schraeders last Tuesday. Nobody actually said “Schraeder” or “Redwood Quality Management Company,” instead referring to the Schraeders as “a good operator” which will operate the new building next door to the Schraeders’ existing operation on Orchard Street in Ukiah. In prior Measure B Committee meetings, they at least had the honesty to refer to the Schraeders as “the odds-on favorite” to get the CRT operator contract.

Measure B Project Manager Alison Bailey told the Board that the building — essentially a glorified motel — will end up costing about $5 million. 

The project’s $5 million cost is made up of $500k for the bare land (being paid for out of a state mental health facilities grant), $750k for “design and architecture,” $3.25 million for construction with contingency, and $500k worth of “soft costs” — a construction manager, “building commissioning,” materials testing, plan checks and permits, utility connection fees, and “contingency.”

The CRT as proposed by CEO Angelo’s hand-picked extremely pricy Sacramento architect Nacht & Lewis is essentially a 2000 square foot four-bedroom house. For comparison the most expensive four-bedroom house for sale in Ukiah is about $1 million. It has 4.5 bathrooms and about 2500 square feet. The lowest cost 4 bedroom house in Ukiah is about $500k with the average or typical 4-bedroom house at about $700k. 

Asked why the building is so expensive, a Nacht & Lewis rep named Fadness told the Board that it is “not a typical residence.” Oh no, no, no, no. Although, according to Fadness the building “looks like a home and feels like a home,” it has to have “ligature resistance,” and special high durability windows with insulated tempered glass, and stucco outer walls. Fadness also noted that the laundry room needs an expensive exterior door “to avoid bringing contaminated clothing or bedding inside.” Another big expense, Fadness added, will be that “the exterior facing windows will have nice views of fruit trees.” And gosh it’s an undeveloped site (right in the middle of Ukiah) and it needs fire accessibility and utilities. “There’s nothing extravagent about the design,” said Fadness, but it “has to be built to a behavioral health standard.” 

This pure bullshit was, of course, swallowed without question by the Supervisors who have consistently been told that to get the $500k grant from the state, the Schraeders’ CRT has to be built in a hurry because of some silly funding deadline the state insists on. So essentially they have to spend millions more on the Schraeders’ psych-motel because otherwise they’d lose (allegedly, but highly unlikely) a $500k grant from the state. By that kind of logic, you should buy a Rolls Royce because they’re offering a $10,000 cash rebate — but the offer expires soon!

Obviously, money is no object when it comes to the Schraeders who are the only “good operator” that would consider bidding on staffing the facility, especially when it’s right next door to their existing operation.

County Mental Health Director Jenine Miller said that operating the facility shouldn’t cost much Measure B money because the services to be provided will be reimbursable by state and a little private insurance.

This of course is a complete betrayal of what the voters for Measure B were told: that the primary purpose of the Measure B money was “to fund improved services, treatment and facilities for persons with behavioral health conditions,” not simply for business as usual next door to the Schraeders. 

This Cadillac of a CRT would basically provide no service improvements at all; it’s just a building for the “treatment” of the existing reimbursable “clients.” Insurance/reimbursement only covers persons with “severe” mental illness, not the drug-addled, the “mild to moderate” street nuts, and the addicts and alkies that the voters expected to be removed from the streets for help.

What about the “Psychiatric Facility” promised by Measure B advocates? Ms. Bailey now says that a Psychiatric Health Facility (aka PHF) will end up costing another $20 mil or so just for the facility. (The Kemper Report said firmly that a PHF should cost less than $5 million based on similar facilities in other California counties.) 

But nobody involved seems interested in that much larger (and obviouly grotesquely overpriced) project, which has no deadline and won’t even be on anyone’s list of projects until sometime after the CRT is built and operating in 2023. And the PHF will actually cost money to operate since most of its services, should it ever exist, would not be reimbursable. Nor would the PHF be next door to the Schraeders.

By the time the County gets around to even considering a $20 million PHF — there’s no time pressure; the only reason the CRT is getting pushed through is the state’s artificial deadline — a large chunk of the Measure B money will be used up on the gold-plated CRT. If a PHF project is ever even started then planned like the CRT with high-cost architects and designers and planners and project and construction managers, the $20 million or more they’ll spend on building another gold plated facility will leave very little for the “improved services” Measure B was supposed to deliver. 

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