Committee Advances Measure Targeting Group Homes

Following brief comments by staff members, the city's Planning and Land Use Management committee sends the controversial measure to the full City Council.

Los Angeles moved a step closer toward being able to regulate sober-living homes and any other group home defined as a boarding house. A measure, dubbed the Community Care Facilities Ordinance, was advanced Tuesday by the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee, which asked the city attorney to present a formal draft of the ordinance to the full Council.

The action by the three-member committee came after a hearing last week attended by about 180 people. The committee declared an end to public comment after hearing more than 50 comments for and against the measure. In Tuesday's hour-long meeting, the committee heard only brief responses from city staff members before taking action.

Tom Rothmann, city planner for code studies in the city Office of Zoning Administration, told Council members Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar and Paul Krekorian that the new ordinance would increase housing for the disabled and permit large community care facilities.

Amy Brothers, a city attorney for the land use division, assured committee members the ordinance would not conflict with state mental health codes. She said that the city could not override state law governing licensed mental health facilities "but the city has a right to regulate homes that are not state licensed."

"We already have the tools," she added. "We just need to tighten them up a little bit and we can preserve housing rights and housing needs for the people in the city by approaching the ordinance this way."

In response to a question from Krekorian, Brothers said the ordinance would not place new restrictions on student housing. As long as they live under a single lease, she said, "students may live together as a family in any zone in the city."

The ordinance, created as a response to complaints that sober-living homes had become neighborhood nuisances in residential areas, was drawn and redrawn over several years to pass muster in the courts, where opponents promise it will be challenged.

It was proposed by Councilman Greig Smith who represents Chatsworth and backed by his successor, Councilman-elect Mitch Englander.

Our sister site, Chatsworth Patch, has been following the controversy. Here are links to our exclusive coverage:

By John Gallant
'It was like they had more rights than the people who lived here and paid property taxes,' neighbor says.

By John Gallant
Sober-living homes exist in residential areas all over Los Angeles, causing friction between neighbors and the homes' operators and residents.

By John Gallant
A proposed law to regulate unlicensed homes in L.A. has both sides marshaling their forces.

By Barry Garron
Ordinance that would apply city regulations to group homes of recovering addicts will now be considered by a City Council committee after Planning Commission vote falls short of recommendation.

By Barry Garron
After huge outpouring of public testimony, committee decides to meet Tuesday for vote.

Sober-Living Homes Hearing Continues Today
By Saul Daniels
Council members asked for answers to a series of questions.

Don Feinstein April 06, 2011 at 03:45 PM
"Tom Rothmann, city planner . . . . told Council members Ed Reyes, Jose Huizar and Paul Krekorian that the new ordinance would increase housing for the disabled and permit large community care facilities." Question: If purpose of the ordinance is to control spread of these facilities, how will this "increase" housing? I'm confused. Need an explanation. Thanks.
Barry Garron April 06, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Rothmann said that, under current ordinances, larger facilities for the disabled were not permitted in certain residential areas. Under the new ordinance, those facilities which are not licensed by the state may be treated as boarding houses and could be established where they had not been allowed before. He did say that any such facility would have to meet standards for parking and density. He did not elaborate beyond that.


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