Supervisors to Reconsider Narcanon

The Signal, Santa Clarita California/July 25, 2006
By Kristopher Daams

County officials will review a decision made earlier this year that paved the way for a Scientology-based drug and alcohol treatment facility to be located on Bouquet Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest.

Narconon is an international drug rehabilitation organization that uses the "research and developments" derived from author L. Ron Hubbard in its rehabilitation treatments, according to Narconon's Web site.

The organization received approval in early January of a 66-bed facility on a 30-acre lot about 15 miles outside of Santa Clarita.

Fifth District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich had the approval by the county's Regional Planning Commission come under review by the supervisors after members of the public made their concerns known.

"I don't know that that has played a role in all this," said Antonovich deputy Norm Hickling, when asked if residents' fear of the center was a significant factor.

Hickling spoke of concerns made by the public regarding fire safety, public safety, traffic access, response times by sheriff's deputies and road conditions as the reasons why Antonovich had the decision come under review.

"It's been direct concerns about the location and the potential occupation and the number of people to be housed there," Hickling said.

The facility would have a staff of 11 people and a 10-year permit to operate, should officials uphold the decision as is.

Conditions for the permit mandate the exclusion of registered sex offenders and people with a violent criminal record from being admitted to the facility.

Security personnel are required to be on the premises 24 hours a day and the permittee is to request to be on the agenda of the Leona Valley Town Council at least once a year.

Hickling said the facility would be about halfway between the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, just north of the intersection of Bouquet Canyon and Spunky Canyon roads as well as the Bouquet Reservoir.

Narconon was founded by a former inmate of the Arizona State Prison system named William Benitez, a former heroin addict, according to Narconon's Web site.

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