UPDATE: Committee Delays Decision on Group Homes

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

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.

R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 02:47 PM
At the end of the day any ordinance like this is likely to fail constitutional scrutiny. We each have a right of privacy and freedom to associate that is covered by the First Amendment. What distinguishes three families living together in a house with 16 people living there from a "Sober Living" home where there are 16 drunks living there trying to get sober? They tried to legislate in the 60's to keep hippies from living in communes. These laws were declared unconstitutional. They couldn't do it then and they won't be able to do it now. What distinguishes a family trying to save their home from foreclosure who rents out a couple of rooms to two other familes? Will you abolish that practice by declaring those homes to be boarding houses? The ordinance won't be able to be narrowly tailored enough to stop people from living with whom they choose. There are many good ways around this legislation. Good luck pursuing unconstitutional restrictions. Think of your alternatives. In this economy housing is at a premium, these people have to live somewhere. If you say you can't be a "SOBER LIVING" where there are rules for staying in the place, and instead they have to all become "ROOMMATES" with no rules I think you end up with an even worse situation. Then you have fewer opportunities for people to work on their recovery and more people crowding downtown LA in skidrow. There are no easy answers.
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 02:50 PM
ALTERNATIVE: Neighbors, come together and meet with the owners of the home in your neighborhood and the people that live there. Discuss your concerns. Ask the home to make rules that will prevent some of the "nuisances" as you see them. Many of the owners are willing to work with legitimate concerns. If you are just concerned in general and worried that whomever is living in the home could be dangerous, remember one thing. When you buy your home, you have no idea what drunk, drug addicted, psychotic person is going to buy the home next to you. There are no guarantees. If you make it a point to care about your neighborhood and talk to your neighbors, peaceful coexistence is possible. Try it!
Dan L. Huffman March 30, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Esq....SLN operative....Try it out next to your house ( if you have one ) as these folks who support the ordinance have been forced to do and give us a full report in a couple years.
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Lived in Winnetka and had 2 within one block of where I lived. Nice conversation with owners cleared up some difficulties with littering and noise. New rules implemented about curfew coming and going. Now where I live there is one two blocks from where I live they haven't been disruptive at all. Actually I have no relationship with any SLN homes or groups. I'm a bankruptcy attorney and have direct knowledge of the people losing homes some through their own fault and others who were hit by the economy by lost jobs. I see how families are bunching up to live together to save homes and to avoid homelessness for children. I am concerned how the ordinance will affect these families.
Dan L. Huffman March 30, 2011 at 04:09 PM
If your last three lines are true then you are to be commended and your content is not the focus of what is taking place. By mixing the two subjects ( as you keep mentioning families ) it is not fair to either parties. From what I have read, your concerns are not the focus therefore you should have no concern nor be worried about this action. Back in the day, ( you mentioned hippies ) Chatsworth's own- Charlie Manson's group were labeled as a " family " but were not a " family " at all other than a group of drug induced lowlifes, thieves and murderers, therefore the difference. Let them live next to you. Though I am a staunch supporter of the ordinance, I do not represent either party and if indeed you are a licensed attorney, it should not take a farm boy such as myself to explain the differences, as I have never seen action taken against a large family or even two mixed families in this city sharing financial responsibilities, nor have you. Arguing the point, is muddying the water, to gain advantage, when what is really taking place is very profitable, tacky, low life businesses are being operated inside residential neighborhoods without any form or regulation or requirements or enforcement , much to the horrors of the local homeowners, residents and taxpayers who deserve better and who deserve to receive relief from these commercial operations. I do not want to argue the point. If you are not intelligent enough to " get it " then lets just drop it......have a good day
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 05:17 PM
What ever happen to R1, SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE? Why is this even happening when there is a zoning law being breached??!!
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 05:25 PM
Save homes and homelessness for children? Really? I don't see how that even makes sense. Thats why there is rental property in just about all financial levels. I used to live in them. Not doing so and not letting the economy do its thing is what cripples people. You would be setting a good example for the next generation of children to be responsible. Not showing them how to take advantage of peoples good intentions and twisting the laws for self gain. This is exactly what tears the economy inside out. R1 Zoning is for SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE, why is this even tolerated?
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Again is see PLENTY laws made like zoning, but not implemented...We don't need new laws or change orders made to keep money shifting hands and out of tax payers pockets that just bandaid other short fallings, he just need the MAIN rules and laws ENFORCED. SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE is what my real state agent assured me and I wouldn't have any issues. Otherwise why work harder longer for that piece of mind to bring up children in a pleasing safe and welcoming environment? Why do all these things? Why try and have a quality of life that took hard work and sacrifice? WHY? Seriously! to have a dark cloud everyday and feel imprisoned in your own home?
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Having cars filling up ythe front of your own home where you can't even put your trash bins out? Have traffic that is continuious in and out? Having all kinds of guest coming from 4 or more different circle of family friends? A single family is very different from 2 or 3,4 5..16(which I have not heard of) living in a place. 1 is already a a shift from single family dwelling. There is plenty property that is zoned differently that can help the economy by making it available for Sober homes.
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Without attacking your intelligence, my caution on this issue is to ensure the statute won't be so overlybroad as to result in unintended results. Perhaps that is the point you missed.
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 05:39 PM
tell what defines a single family residence under the l a municipal code is not coop q 5 the property who occupies the property. it is defined by the type of structure which may be permitted on the property.
Dan L. Huffman March 30, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Oh, I caught it allright Grace. Second question answer: Charles Manson versus Ozzie and Harriet and their children, obviously you represent the Manson's family view. I also caught myself via your outlook, ( as if this has not been tried numerous times before ) out making friends and installing new neighborhood rules and peace treaties with a continuing revolving door of transients and the ilk that comes with it as if they have any respect whatsoever for anybody including themselves or that it was my job to waste my time off enforcing parking, noise, fighting, public urination, stabbings, trash, drunkiness etc. That is the City's job and Smith/Englander will get it done whether you agree or not. Wish I had the answers Phil, but rest assured, there is a whole bunch of us who feel them same as you. Don't sweat the small stuff, help is on the way and these flophouse operators know it and their legal advisors do too ! Phil, your over the target, its still dark out but ( as the WWII bombers said ) the anti aircraft flack from below guides to you accuracy...the bomb doors are opening soon...it's bombs away...stay tuned !
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 06:47 PM
And the type of structure is a SINGLE FAMILY structure, What is the intended use of a single family structure? If it doesn't follow suite, than why have the zoning?
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Dan, my only target is some peace of mind for me and family. So I am not looking over my shoulder ever minute a car pulls up next to my driveway or walks half past my drive way....And that I don't run out of excuses to tell my children why it is unsafe and can't play in the front yard. My kids asks me "who's that daddy", and its different people at different times entering the side yard to go into their garage (which is converted to 2-3+rooms with bath) that I don't even have an answer as to who our neighbors are.
Dan L. Huffman March 30, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Phil...Our targets are the same. Yourself and your family DESERVE it and deserve better. This should not be happening, but it is. I can't explain why other than its big ( too big ) city stuff and there are manipulators everywhere, as sad as it is. I seek the same as you, just to live in peace. Many residents have suffered greatly, undeserved of this blight. I know Smith and Englander very well and have full confidence in both of them, as slow as the big city system is, or delays, and regardless of these supposed statements from lawyers , that this ordinance has indeed been crafted carefully to address these problems, word by word, and allow immediate enforcement to protect your rights. These scumbag operators seem to now be migrating into the local county areas which is a signal that " big brother" is heading their way and they know it. Insects tend to move when you lift the rock and expose them to sunlight. Of course, I promise, our county officials are watching this closely and will have the benefit of a path well trod, unfortunately by folks like yourself and many others, that just want our neighborhoods, children and property left alone in peace without constant threat. Yourself and many others deserve great credit for standing your ground and for not buckling under to this residential disease. Help is on the way...as slow is it may be, the big yellow City steamroller is moving towards this issue.....D
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 08:09 PM
I'd like to believe that Dan, so how do we know, and where do we get info and updates as to whats happening (without making a trip to the city hall meeting, perhaps a source online)? The fact that there are regulations for having sober homes is already an acceptance of having potential problems... to always put in order. Its like applying rules to a bully that has mood swings. Move the bully out of the environment it dominates and bullys, and place it in a level area that it gets continued counseling with other bully's that they can learn from and you have progress, but to have laws that constantly keep putting out fires is just wasted energy. We really need to clean up how we run things. We can't afford to create circles to keep chasing our own tail. I remember when Single Family means you and immediate family live in the house, and only close reletives can stay extended periods and such. You couldn't rent out or have 3-6 people in a garage and other rooms rented. And then you ask why so many leave the state? Why are things crumbling at the foundations?
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Most garage conversions are illegal. Start by calling building and safety to inspect and cite. This will reduce some of the problem.
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Here you go: see this web-site: http://cris.lacity.org/cris/informationcenter/code/filecomplaint.htm Service requests for properties containing only one dwelling unit, commercial, industrial or vacant buildings should be directed to the Department of Building and Safety at 1-888-LA4-BUILD or 888-524-2845. If you wish to file a complaint regarding potential code violation(s) on a property, containing more than one dwelling you may do so by using this website or calling the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) at 1-866-557-RENT (7368). The Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) is responsible for investigating code violations related to rental properties within the City of Los Angeles containing more than one dwelling unit, such as duplexes, apartment buildings or more than one single family dwelling on a property. When using this website to report a property violation we must have your name, a contact phone number and the address of the property requiring investigation. Your name and phone number will be kept confidential and not released to the public. LAHD uses this information to achieve a higher level of success in resolving cases and obtaining compliance. If you do not want to provide your name and phone number you may call our Hot-line at 1-866-557-7368. Every effort will be made to respond to your request within 24 hrs. When service request levels are normal you may access the status of your request online by reviewing the Property Activity Report.
Dan L. Huffman March 30, 2011 at 09:51 PM
Phil....How do I communicate with you privately ? Maybe communicate your e-address directly thru the Editor ? They know me. Think about it, as this site is monitered by these sham operators, not that they personally worry me, but lots of folks like their privacy and they are reading this. Great job on info Grace !
R. Grace Rodriguez, Esq. March 30, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I believe in full compliance with all of the laws. If you are creating a nuisance it doesn't matter how many people live in your house, it should not happen. If you got 10 people living in a house, then its their responsibility to make sure that they don't disturb the neighborhood. So start with enforcement of the rules we have is all I'm saying. Personally with all the commercial space available why not have some non-profits set up facilities to care for more of these people on an independent living basis. I always wondered why that couldn't be done.
Phil Indeblanc March 30, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Yes, its an illegal one, and it will be obvious that one of the proximity neighbors reported. Its not likely that the people will move out as they can rent another room in that house. The last thing any family wants to do is force a "shady"(less aggressive term as I don't have proof of gangster activity) renter out. They should get the city busy and start doing random inspections on properties that have been reported in some capacity. It will help the economy with permits being pulled and contractors working, materials selling...And all for proper reasons. Isn't this why I paided $$$ for inspection to come out when I did the remode?...l to do the job right?...Or should have I hired unlicensed workers and not filed for permits ? Maybe that Simpson tie wasn't really that big a need for my glue laminate beams to hold the house up? I'm sure it'd be sold and someone else headache when the next "big one" hit. I did things as anyone who makes an honest living and takes some pride in being a home owner. But I sure as heck didn't know life would be hell after moving in and realizing that want happens in this single family dwelling residence is anything but family oriented.... Saul has my info.
Fiona Sophy April 30, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Dear Phil, I would love to send you a private message if possible? I have been threatened for posting my opposition to sober living homes. Should I post openly, and use my real name, I will no doubt be harassed again. I have men driving by my house slowly- looking at me... I don't let my pets outside (unattended) in fear of being poisoned- my car is parked under a camera and there are 2 other cameras on the remainder of my property - since I feel unsafe by certain people! If I post too much information, these people will know exactly who I am. Thanks, (Concerned Homeowner)
Phil Indeblanc April 30, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Hi Fiona, As in the above thread, I would contact the editor to get info to the proper people. There are those in this thread that can be helpful, you might want to start there for guidance. Not sure what info you'd like to send me? It's sad that there are so many just in this area that have such a problem.


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