The city's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee Tuesday delayed a decision on regulation of so-called sober-living homes after hearing comments on the measure from 52 people. Councilman Ed Reyes decided to recess the hearing until next Tuesday.
The committee room was standing-room only with at least 180 people in attendance. The PLUM committee took public testimony about group homes in residential neighborhoods. Officials indicated that they needed more time to review the issues.
The committee is considering the Community Care Facilities Ordinance, proposed by Councilman Greig Smith who represents Chatsworth. It would control sober-living homes that neighbors have called a nuisance in residential areas, as well as establish rules for boarding houses.
Tom Rothmann, city planner for code studies in the city office of zoning administration, said the proposed ordinance generated far more comment than is typical in such cases. "There's a lot of passion on both sides of the issue," he said. "This really does affect a lot of people and there are people with valid points on both sides."
When the PLUM committee resumes, Rothmann will provide the three council members that comprise the committee with answers to several questions raised during the public testimony. These include questions related to state mental health laws that might be in conflict, services provided in sober-living homes, the impact of the proposed law on student housing needs and whether the current nuisance abatement procedures are adequate, Rothmann said.
The city official estimated that about 60 percent of the speakers favored the proposed ordinance and 40 percent opposed it. He said that was comparable to the public testimony provided when the measure was before the planning commission earlier this year.
If the measure is approved by the committee, it will move to the full council. Rothmann said that, because it has already been vetted by the city attorney, it could come before the council relatively quickly, perhaps in a month.
Even council approval won't be the last stop, though. Some of those who spoke against it promised the measure would be challenged in court.
Both Smith and Councilman-elect Mitch Englander said in an email to Chatsworth Patch:
"The ordinance is meant to address the numerous unlicensed, illegal and nuisance group homes that have proliferated in quiet residential neighborhoods and have made life a living hell for their neighbors. We don't know even how many are there because they are not listed or registered anywhere.
"We are not acting out of fear of what might happen. It is in response to what has already been happening."
For more information, here's the exclusive Patch.com series:
'It was like they had more rights than the people who lived here and paid property taxes,' neighbor says.
Sober-living homes exist in residential areas all over Los Angeles, causing friction between neighbors and the homes' operators and residents.
A proposed law to regulate unlicensed homes in L.A. has both sides marshaling their forces.
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.
Saul Daniels contributed to this report.