Community Care Facility Ordinance seeks to regulate group homes
Disabled, senior citizens, recovering drug addicts
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—One week after a quadruple slaying outside an unlicensed boarding home, a City Council committee today unanimously approved a plan to regulate group homes for the disabled, senior citizens, recovering drug addicts and others.
The so-called Community Care Facility Ordinance would authorize about 1,000 licensed care facilities housing seven or more people to operate in residential neighborhoods under certain conditions, including a cap on two people per bedroom and landscaping, lighting and noise restrictions.
With the backing of the Public Safety Committee, the proposal will move to the full City Council for a vote in January.
Councilman Mitchell Englander, the plan’s principal backer, called the proposed ordinance the most liberal in the state. Previously, operators of facilities of seven or more people had to plead their cases before the city in order to be allowed in residential zones, a process that could run as much as $14,000.
The ordinance strikes a balance between protecting the character of residential neighborhoods and protecting “the most vulnerable in society who are taken advantage of and warehoused in deplorable conditions,” Englander said.
The ordinance also strengthens the city’s ability to crack down on illegal unlicensed boarding homes by providing specific language that distinguishes boarding home businesses from multi-family residences and barring landlords from issuing four or more leases in residential zones without a license to operate as a care facility.
Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Kris Pitcher, who oversees an area with about 57 group homes, told the committee that some of the homes become regular scenes for personal theft, disputes among tenants, assaults, narcotics violations and general blight.
The 4-0 approval by the committee came on the heels of a quadruple homicide last week at an unlicensed boarding home in Northridge, where an estimated 17 people were living at a residentially zoned property where officials found more than 75 building code violations. LAPD officials have not said publicly whether the victims or four people arrested for the murders lived at the home.
Englander said it was impossible to know whether the proposed ordinance could have prevented the killings, but he said it would deter landlords from operating such facilities.
Dozens of opponents testified at the hearing, claiming the conditions the ordinance would force many group homes to close, forcing vulnerable people into homelessness and placing greater burden on the city’s dense urban centers.
Michael Arnold, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, told the committee the ordinance would increase the city’s homeless population of about 24,000.
“Los Angeles s a city with a critical shortage of affordable housing,” Arnold said. “No one supports cramming 20 or 30 people in a single-family residence. However, many people who share housing ... are good neighbors.”
“Small transitional housing programs are not eligible for licensure and will be put out of business,” Arnold added.
Critics also argued the city’s lack of resources would make the ordinance unenforceable. Inspections would be complaint-driven, a Department of Building and Safety official told the committee.
Opponents also said the ordinance would violate federal fair housing laws, but Deputy City Attorney Amy Brothers told the committee the proposal was legal.
In an effort to attract new car dealerships to Los Angeles and increase sales tax revenue to pay for public services, the City Council voted Tuesday to eliminate a business tax on new car sales.
City officials say the city’s business tax, which brings in about $4 million per year, is the main reason 95 car dealerships moved out of the city over the last 25 years.
The council voted 12-0 in favor of the plan by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and carried in the council by Mitchell Englander and Eric Garcetti.
The city's response to last year's Occupy Los Angeles protests and two-month encampment at City Hall cost taxpayers at least $4.7 million, according to reports.
From early October to late November, hundreds of demonstrators camped in tents at the 1.7-acre City Hall Park as part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement. Protestors called for government and corporations to address what activists described as a growing disparity between the rich and poor. The encampment culminated in a massive overnight raid by the Los Angeles
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—The woman accused of shooting pepper spray at other customers at a busy Walmart store in Porter Ranch, injuring 20, was described by police today as about 5 feet 3 inches tall, between the ages of 32-38, with black hair and brown eyes.
Police do not have a description of the vehicle the woman was driving, but they expressed confidence that the woman will be arrested.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—For the third time this year the Los Angeles City Council today was forced to cancel its meeting because not enough members showed up.
Another meeting was canceled less than a month ago on Sept. 29.
Council President Pro Tem Jan Perry apologized to the public for not having enough members to legally hold a council meeting and said the items on today’s agenda would be added to Tuesday’s agenda.
L.A. GOAL (Greater Opportunities for Advanced Living) was founded in 1969 by a group of parents whose teenagers with developmental disabilities were graduating from high school.
At first, L.A. GOAL was as a social club with informal lessons on the essentials of daily life, including reading, writing, grooming and hygiene, understanding money and, the basics of social interaction.