By Mitchell Englander, Councilmember, Twelfth District
The peace and safety of your neighborhood is the single most important measure of quality of life in our community, and my top priority is to help preserve and protect it. The City’s proposed Community Care Facility Ordinance has the singular purpose of preserving peace and safety in our neighborhoods.
After numerous public hearings in the L.A. City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), long deliberations, and dozens of hours of public comment from a range of interested groups and community members, the Community Care Facilities Ordinance was sent on to the full City Council for consideration.
I urge every Neighborhood Council in the City to vote on a resolution stating their official position on the Community Care Facility Ordinance, even if they have done this already. They should send a letter or email stating that position, whatever it may be, to me as well as to their own City Councilmember. I also urge every Neighborhood Council to come to the City Council meeting on the day of the vote and to give public comment stating their position. Neighborhood Councils play a crucial role in the City, acting as the eyes, ears and voice of the community on the grass roots level, and their input in forming the Community Care Ordinance has been crucial.
I have led the work on the Ordinance for several years, first as Chief of Staff to former Councilmember Greig Smith, and now as Councilmember of the 12th District and as a member of the PLUM Committee.
By way of background, please view this slide show produced by LACN (Los Angeles Coalition for Neighborhoods) a non-profit coalition of L.A. City residents and Neighborhood Councils, which explains the way the Community Care Ordinance would work and the needs that it addresses. http://tiny.cc/LACNCommCare
The version of the Ordinance that will now come before the Council is the version that was drafted by the L.A. City Attorney in 2011, which I support. That means that it will only require a simple majority for it to be approved by the City Council. To see the draft of the Community Care Facility Ordinance, visit http://tiny.cc/CommunityCareOrd.
The Community Care Ordinance is common-sense legislation that has been developed to address the proliferation of unlicensed nuisance group homes and boarding facilities, which have had a huge negative impact on single family neighborhoods in my District in the Northwest San Fernando Valley and in neighborhoods all across the City of Los Angeles. There are a great number of these unlicensed, unregulated facilities, most of which are for-profit businesses operating in residential areas.
This is not a solution looking for a problem. This ordinance is in response to families and neighborhoods in crisis who have been terrorized and unable to enjoy the peace and quiet of their own homes. Many of them will not even allow their children to play outside on their street because there are large groups of rowdy people loitering, drinking and smoking, using vulgar language, and harassing neighbors who dare to ask them to be respectful.
These facilities generate frequent complaints, often over a period of years, of loud parties, drug and alcohol use, fights, excessive trash, public urination, heavy traffic and cars parked illegally. The illegal and unlicensed facilities often lack any kind of security, supportive services, and have unsanitary and crowded conditions, with up to 40 people in one home.
The Ordinance is very carefully and specifically crafted so that it doesn’t single out or discriminate against any groups, and it will not ban licensed group homes. In fact, with this new ordinance and updated definitions, people with disabilities, veterans, those living in poverty, and people afflicted by substance addiction and mental illness, will have better opportunities for housing in safe, protected and healthy living conditions. The Ordinance will help ensure that they can seek the services and support that they need without being exposed to squalid living conditions.
The restrictions in the Ordinance are based on already existing Los Angeles zoning rules, and include requiring licensed facilities to have adequate parking, security, programs and supervision in place and limits on numbers of residents. Legitimate, licensed, well-run facilities should be able to meet these requirements, which are meant to ensure that the neighbors' quality of life is protected.
Definitions in the Ordinance will ensure that unlicensed and unregulated group homes will not be allowed in low-density, single-family home areas.
This is not a witch hunt. The Ordinance will allow the well-run, legitimate facilities to continue to provide their crucial services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. But it will restrict the bad apples and illegal nuisance facilities so that we can protect the peace and quiet of our neighborhoods.
We will announce the date of the hearing in the City Council in our weekly newsletter and our website at www.CD12.org.
MORE FROM PATCH: Patch has reported extensively on the group home issue. Read about it in this exclusive 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.