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Why Englander Declines to Take a Stand on Sherwood Forest Elder-Care Proposal

Councilman sends a letter of explanation to the Homeowners Association.

The Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association is fighting plans to build an apartment-like elder-care facility in the middle of their single-family Northridge residential neighborhood.

They have asked Councilman Mitch Englander to attend their meetings and take a stand on whether the facility is appropriate for the area. His office declined to send a representative to a January meeting where more than 300 homeowners unanimously voted to oppose the project. The Northridge South Neighborhood Council land use committee also voted to oppose the project.

The issue will come before the full board of the Neighborhood Council 7 p.m., Feb.  28, at Northridge Middle School, 17960 Chase St. That will be followed by a zoning administrator's hearing at noon, March 5, at the Van Nuys Braude Building, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd.

Chatsworth is facing a similar proposal for an elder-care facility in the midst of a horse-keeping neighborhood. Developers have not yet filed any plans with the city, however, Englander has already said the business is inappropriate for the area. "I am against this specific project because it is trying to shoehorn in too dense of a project in an area it just doesn't fit," Englander said. 

The councilman replied to the Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association with this letter which the association provided to Patch:

Councilmember Mitchell Englander
Twelfth District
February 13, 2013

Tom Bramson
President, The Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association
9018 Balboa Blvd., Suite #242
Northridge, CA 91325

Dear Mr. Bramson:
I received your letter stating the Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association’s (HOA) position about the elder care facility (ZA 2012-3545 ELD,SPR) proposed at the corner of Shoshone Avenue and Parthenia Street.

I understand the HOA’s concerns and I commend the Sherwood Forest Board and members for their passion for their community.

I share the view that Sherwood Forest is a unique, beautiful neighborhood whose high quality of life and character must be preserved and protected. I have always strongly supported and admired the members of this tightly-knit community for their commitment to preserving Sherwood Forest. I was proud to have supported their bid to make Sherwood Forest an officially named community of Los Angeles, and was proud to cut the ribbon on the new Sherwood Forest community signs. I have worked to ensure there were fee waivers and street closures for Sherwood Forest’s wonderful block party. As you may know, I promoted the event and have attended several times, where I was happy to meet many of the residents and HOA Board Members, discuss community and City issues, and enjoy this terrific neighborhood. 

As you stated in your letter, members of your Board invited members of my staff to attend the Jan. 23, 2013 meeting where the proposed elder care facility was discussed. They declined, because it is a long-standing policy of our office to respect and support this process, and to allow projects to proceed along their prescribed course without being influenced by our presence. I understand that attendees of that meeting were dissatisfied that we did not attend, and I have responded to them with the same answer, and the explanation I am providing you in this letter. My pledge to protect the character and quality of life in our communities stands.

The reason that neither I nor anyone else on my staff attended the recent meeting to discuss the proposed elder care facility was twofold: First, the meeting was convened by the Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association, not my office. The meeting was meant to be for and by the members of the community. It was their forum, and it was appropriate for there to be an opportunity for their members to discuss the matter among themselves. This was their time to discuss the merits of the proposal unimpeded.

Second, it is the policy of my office to send any proposed development to the relevant Neighborhood Council and/or Homeowners Association to be reviewed first before I will consider it. That is because I want to ensure that any new development is the right fit for the community, and the Neighborhood Councils and homeowners associations are the eyes and ears of the community. As such, you have an important role to play in advising me and my staff on the real or potential impacts (positive or negative) on your neighborhood. Although my staff and I tend to keep a low public profile during this portion of the process, we are very interested in and are monitoring closely what is occurring and we appreciate hearing from you directly.

There is an official, legal process in place for any proposed development to go through, no matter what type or in what neighborhood. Saying that they must go through that process does not mean that I support them – it is how projects are vetted and analyzed and brought before the public in a transparent, fair process between the neighbors and the applicants. Regarding the elder care facility in question, the first public meeting will be the Zoning Administrator’s hearing, which my staff will be attending in order to monitor the meeting. At that hearing, all members of the community will be able to participate, share their thoughts or concerns, see detailed information about the proposal, and hear what kinds of questions or concerns the Zoning Administrator might have.

After that, the proposed project will also be vetted in a public hearing by the Area Planning Commission. We will be attending that meeting as well.

In response to your question about when I will take an official position on the proposed development; I have spelled out the procedures in this letter and, again, I respect this process. Once the various community groups and stakeholders have had the opportunity to weigh in and give me all their input, questions and concerns, I will issue my recommendations prior to the Area Planning Commission’s meeting.

I assure you that my position will always be guided by doing what is right for the community.

Sincerely,
MITCHELL ENGLANDER
Councilmember, Twelfth District
Cc: All Board Members, Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association

Concerned Sherwood Forest Resident February 20, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Thank you Mary A and Congratulations to the North Hills West Council. Very inspirational story! We also have many volunteers working hard and going door to door, and so far, our Association is doing a great job. We are expecting hundreds of people to come to the Council meeting on Feb 28 and The City Planning meeting in Van Nuys, on March 5th (info posted at www.sherwoodforesthoa.org) . All SFV neighborhoods are welcome to get involved since this new City of LA Ordinance will affect ALL of our neighborhoods , and needs to be amended so that the zoning department "MUST ALWAYS" defer to the City Council's vote of each neighborhood, since THEY are the ones who are most aware of the needs of their community. The Ordinance, as it stands right now, gives the city zoning department the final decision and it can override the recommendation of the city council. It also seems as per the article below, that the City Councilman, can override the city Planners' recommendation, as in the case of Dennis Zine and the Woodland Hills Elder Care Facility on Fallbrook! This ordinance most definitely needs to be looked at closely again. http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_21287093/woodland-hills-residents-battle-zine-over-proposed-elder
Mary A February 20, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Thank you Concerned, I will give this information to our Land Use Committee to be sure they are aware of the Ordinance you cited so they can do everything possible to fight for it to be passed. All local NCs and HOAs must unite in causes such as this to maintain the dignity of our communities, as many politicians only concern is their campaign treasure chest, not all but many. Very Best of luck to you.
Without Feathers February 23, 2013 at 04:58 AM
"One term Mitch" is clearly beholdant to the big money folks. Our ONLY option is make sure he stands with the people of Northridge, or his political career ends here.
Concerned Sherwood Forest Resident March 05, 2013 at 06:55 AM
Did we receive the promised response from our Councilman yet? The city council voted unanimously against this proposal on Feb 28th and the Councilman's letter posted above, said he would issue his recommendation prior to the Planning Area Comission's meeting, which is tomorrow at 11:30 am in Van Nuys, Braude Building 1st Floor.
CD12 Resident April 04, 2013 at 03:41 PM
The councilman is not reachable by residents of CD 12 and surrounded by aids whom prevent the public from meeting the councilman, plus, from personal experience Englander aids outreach to solve problems is to tell residents to buzz off. Englander has no interest in CD 12 at all and his aids do not serve the community well. Time for change.

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