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Native American Treatment Center Faces Lawsuit From Yolo County

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The former site of D-Q University, a tribal college, could soon house a substance abuse treatment facility for Native American youth. But Yolo County officials worry about safety as cars zip around the bend.

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The federal Indian Health Service wants to put an adolescent rehab program on farmland northwest of Davis, but Yolo County officials say the current proposal is a recipe for traffic disaster.

The $20 million live-in facility would treat roughly 100 substance-addicted American Indian and Alaska Native youth each year.

But Yolo County supervisors say it would also pose a major safety issue due to cars coming around the bend of county road 31. The county has asked the federal entity to add a left turn lane to mitigate the risk, but Supervisor Don Saylor says they haven’t budged.

The county filed a lawsuit over the traffic issue last week.

“They’re basically shifting the burden of traffic safety from their project to the Yolo County taxpayers or the state of California taxpayers," Saylor said.

The federal service declined to comment on the lawsuit, but IHS engineering director Michael Weaver said this about the project at a county supervisors meeting last summer.

"The Indian Health Service doesn't have the authority or the monies to make such improvements. We're going to be looking for solutions here, working with the county folks, our tribal partners."

They’ve already moved forward with the project despite multiple objections from the county about water use, flood risk and impact to local birds. They don’t need local approval to start construction.

This would be the federal service’s 12th youth treatment facility, including one in Riverside County. Northern California is home to a large population of native youth. Nationally, these teens have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse than any other ethnic group.

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