CSAC Bulletin Article

Conservatorship Proposals Raise Concern

March 15, 2018

Interest in conservatorship issues is high in the Legislature this year, as policymakers and counties seek solutions for those living without shelter. CSAC is working to gain clarification on each of the current conservatorship proposals with an eye on the potential fiscal impacts.

Conservatorship activities are funded solely through County General Fund and handled by each county’s Public Guardian (PG) or Public Conservator (PC). The location and organization of each PG/PA office varies across the state, but it is one of the few service-related county functions that is funded solely through County General Fund.

The proposals in the Legislature take a variety of approaches, but most seek to make it easier to conserve people under the state’s Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS Act). A person can be conserved for a year if a PG/PC recommends and a court agrees that they are gravely disabled due to mental illness. The county conservator is responsible for the conservatee’s care and protection, housing, and health care, including involuntary mental health treatment.

Besides the county cost for conservatorship activities, a dearth of placement options for conservatees remains a top issue and is closely tied with the overall lack of housing for at-risk populations in the state. This supply issue is not addressed by any of the current conservatorship proposals. CSAC is working on a comprehensive housing proposal in response to the homelessness crisis, but creating secure and affordable placement options for conservatees will be a longer-term effort.

CSAC is committed to working with counties and legislators on each of the conservatorship measures outlined below:   

AB 1971 (Santiago) is currently a spot bill sponsored by Los Angeles County. The County plans to amend it to expand the current statutory definition of gravely disabled to include a physical health condition. This would allow a county to conserve a person who refuses to seek medical care despite being at risk of harm or death. CSAC Position: Pending

AB 2156 (Chen) is similar to AB 1971 above and would make changes to the definition of gravely disabled to include a physical health condition. It is sponsored by the author and supported by the Assembly Republican Caucus. CSAC Position: Pending

AB 2236 (Maienschein) would clarify that a conservatorship continues until terminated by the death of the conservatee. CSAC Position: Watch

SB 931 (Hertzberg) is sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. It seeks to clarify that a  county conservatorship investigator may begin investigations while a person is in custody in a county jail, which simply affirms what is current law. CSAC has some concerns with the broad language and is engaged with the DA’s office on the issue. CSAC Position: Pending

SB 1011 (Roth) would require a petition to establish a limited conservatorship for a person with developmental disabilities to be supported by separately filed additional information that specifies whether a proposed conservatee has received certain kinds of social and educational services. CSAC Position: Pending

SB 1045 (Weiner) is sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco. It was amended this week to broaden the scope of who can be conserved, including those with substance use disorders. CSAC is continuing to engage with the author as the bill takes shape. CSAC Position: Pending

SB 1095 (Anderson) would delete a restriction on the court’s ability to order certain revocation matters to the public guardian. This could increase the workload of county PGs and PCs.  CSAC Position: Watch

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