Chatsworth's Land Use Committee has denied a proposed 99-bed assisted living and Alzheimer's facility sought for a 2.4-acre horse-keeping property on DeSoto Avenue.
The recommendation will be forwarded to the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council for ratification on Feb. 6.
More than 50 equestrians and neighbors of the property at 10801 DeSoto Ave. crowded the meeting room at the Chatsworth Train Depot last week to voice opposition to the proposed Casa Esperanza residential care community. Craig Michayluk, who owns the property and serves on the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, served as presenter.
Michayluk and his wife Joy also own the 46-bed Evergreen Chateau assisted living facility in Van Nuys, where they are listed as administrators.
While zoning permits an elder-care facility in some residential areas, the property lies within an area reserved by former Councilmen Hal Bernson and Grieg Smith and current Councilman Mitch Englander for horse-keeping properties on minimum 20,000-square-foot lots.
"You may have a great idea," said committee member and Neighborhood Council President Andre van der Valk, "but you picked the wrong spot."
Michayluk said the facility would not be a Group Home like the boarding houses plaguing the community. It would be for residents 65 and older who need assistance with their daily activities. It would be licensed, highly regulated and highly controlled, he said.
Land planner Robert Amond insisted that the project "would not interfere in any way with horse properties." He said the building would look like a ranch house set back 100 feet from the street. It would have 51 parking spaces, 10 more than the city requirement, he said.
But neighbors complained that the facility, with arriving and departing cars, ambulances and delivery vehicles would disrupt the neighborhood.
"You could be run out of town for destroying our rural way of life," van der Valk said. "We like it when our chickens cross the road."
"Roosters go off at 8 o'clock at night, 9 o'clock at night," pointed out neighbor Jim Lowe, suggesting that residents at the facility might be disturbed by neighborhood noises.
"That's horse property and my concern is that it remains that way," he said. Building a commercial elder-care facility would set precedent, he said. It would open the door to additional commercial development.
Another neighbor pointed out that the property backs up on Independence Avenue, a narrow
Tomorrow: More than 300 turn out to object to plans for 140-unit elder-care facility in a single-family, residential area of Northridge's Sherwood Forest.
country lane. "We ride our horses up and down Independence," she said.
Committee member and Neighborhood Council Vice President Judith Daniels said that the two nearest firehouses with ambulances are south of the property and would have to make left-hand turns across heavily travelled DeSoto Avenue for emergency response. Nearby Emeritus Assisted Living on Devonshire Street requires ambulance response on a daily basis, she said.
"It's a business and this is a residential area," said committee secretary Teena Takata. "It's run for a profit. It violates the community plan which calls for horse keeping," she said.
"The people in this room have a passion for Chatsworth," said neighbor Eric Greeley. "We don't want to see anything change. This is the last place that remains in the Valley with this heritage," he said.
"We will fight this thing to the end," said neighbor Lacey Withers.