Governor is the latest to call for closure of developmental center

Gov. Jerry Brown is now on the list of state officials wanting to close the Fairview Developmental Center.

The governor’s May revision of the state budget, released Thursday, proposes closing the state facility in Costa Mesa by 2021 and reassigning its residents into smaller facilities at a lesser cost to taxpayers in the long run.

Brown’s proposal comes a few months after two state bills — SB 639 and AB 1405, each introduced in February — that aim to do the same thing by 2018. Both bills are in committee.

As of last month, Fairview housed 280 residents who have developmental disabilities and require 24/7 care. About 1,500 people work at the 111-acre facility, whose population peaked in the 1960s with about 2,700 residents. It opened in 1959.

Brown is also proposing to close a developmental center near Sonoma by 2018 and one in Porterville by 2021.

Santi Rogers, director of the state Department of Developmental Services, which oversees Fairview, said in an interview Friday that Brown’s proposal was not unexpected.

Legislation from 2012 capped admissions into the state’s developmental centers, with exceptions for crisis situations. A task force in early 2014 also recommended that California move its developmental center residents away from such institution-style facilities into more community-based living arrangements.

Developmental center residents have also been receiving individualized plans for their future care, which will be utilized in the event of the centers closing, Rogers said. He stressed that the state’s intent, should Fairview and other centers close, is for residents not to lose the level of care they receive now.

“The individual plan that they have now will be replicated in another setting,” Rogers said.

Disability Rights California, a Sacramento-based advocacy group, praised Brown’s decision.

“We are pleased to see that the governor’s proposed budget includes a plan to close all three of the remaining developmental centers,” said spokeswoman Pat McConahay in a statement.

Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan has been vocally against Fairview’s closure, contending that the smaller facilities replacing it aren’t likely to provide the level of supervision that Fairview does.

On Friday, he said he had not reviewed Brown’s proposals, but repeated his concerns about losing Fairview.

“I think closing it would be a bad idea,” Monahan said.