OKLAHOMA CITY – Residents say a mental health hospital was operating illegally for a decade but now they are upset about a decision involving the fate of the center.
On Tuesday, residents on the city’s northeast side protested Cedar Ridge, saying there needs to be a restriction involving the age of patients treated at the facility.
For 10 years, officials say the mental health hospital operated without the proper city permits.
The facility was only approved to care for juveniles.
However, neighbors say they have had 36 adult beds, which is about a third of their capacity, for the last 10 years.
The violations came to light after the facility asked to expand.
“Cedar Ridge has not been a good neighbor,” said John Johnson. “That facility was supposed to operate with 116 adolescents.”
Neighbors’ concern sparked an outpouring of protest at the city council.
However, not everyone was in protest of the facility.
Oklahoma City’s police chief told the city council the adult beds do not pose a danger to neighbors.
“There’s really no significant problems regarding public safety in the area around Cedar Ridge,” said Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.
With the chief’s endorsement, the city council voted to allow Cedar Ridge to maintain the status quo.
“We need to increase the number of beds for treatment, not reduce it,” said Citty.
“We’re excited we got to keep the 36 beds, but it doesn’t do anything for the need that’s still out there. We need more beds,” said Cedar Ridge’s attorney David Box.
Still, neighbors say Cedar Ridge is being rewarded for violating the law.
“What they did to us was unfair,” said James Henderson.
“It’s just not fair,” said Johnson. “Now it tells anybody I can operate anyway I want as long as it provides a service.”
Because of the neighbors’ concerns, Cedar Ridge says they’re in the process of increasing security at the facility.
They’ve also promised not to apply for an expansion in the number of beds for one year.