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San Diego Leaders Stress Importance of New Law to Expand Conservatorships

San Diego County Supervisors Dianne Jacobs and Nathan Fletcher / Photos by Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the Oct. 11 Sacramento Report [1]. Get the Sacramento Report delivered to your inbox [2].

Two San Diego County supervisors say the board will soon review whether to pursue a pilot program established by state law to expand court-ordered conservatorships in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco counties.

San Francisco Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 40, signed by Newsom last week, bolsters previous legislation [3] allowing the three counties to create five-year pilot programs where court-appointed guardians oversee a person’s daily life without a previous requirement that patients try an outpatient program first. Gonzalez last year added San Diego to the original bill [4], SB 1045, when it came before the Appropriations Committee she chairs.

Wiener hopes the expanded conservatorships will connect more people in need with longer-term housing and care.

The new law requires counties to first seek 28-day conservatorships that link patients with housing and care and then six-month-long conservatorships. Patients are considered eligible after an eighth involuntary hospital stay for psychiatric care in a 12-month period. These holds follow a determination that the person is a danger to themselves or others.

Wiener has said the goal of the legislation is to provide housing and services to “people who cannot be reached effectively with voluntary services.”

Gloria, who is running for mayor, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer separately urged San Diego County leaders to enact the program.

“There’s nothing humane about leaving severely mentally ill San Diegans unsheltered,” Gloria wrote [5] on Twitter. “It’s time [San Diego County] acts to get these people off the streets and into care.”

Faulconer shared [6] a letter he and Elliott had sent county board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob that emphasized troubling numbers he said underscored the need for the program.

“At a San Diego County board conference on October 30, 2018, county staff presented that nearly 70 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations involving patients with a recurring substance use disorder, and that since 2012, emergency department visits for amphetamine and opioids more than doubled,” the letter says.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Jacob responded with a statement [7] that said the board will move quickly to consider how to implement the program.