Mayor Michael Davitt attended a series of federal advocacy meetings last week in Washington, D.C., focused on sober living homes, a topic that’s arisen as a concern among La Cañada Flintridge residents.
“This is not just a local issue, it’s a statewide and nationwide issue,” said Davitt, who said he and other representatives from the California Contract Cities Association spent Dec. 11-12 meeting with a dozen legislators, including members of the House of Representatives and Senate.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Davitt said he and his colleagues sat in on a subcommittee meeting on the topic, and learned about H.R. 6070, the Safe Recovery and Community Empowerment Act, a bill sponsored by California Congressman Darrell Issa that would allow communities to implement oversight of sober living facilities.
Davitt said his group also met for about 45 minutes with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in addition to speaking with representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I’m not sure the bill’s going to make it,” Davitt said. “This is a state mandate based on federal law … [the issue is] tied to the American Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act, so we’re trying to get some changes there.
“There are facilities that exist in our city and others as well, so we’re trying to make some progress with that,” he added.
In August, residents near the 900 block of Green Lane complained to the City Council when they learned a home in their neighborhood was being leased by Ridgeview Ranch, a state-licensed, for-profit treatment center that helps men and women struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Ridgeview Ranch’s Chief Operating Officer Larry Parton said the company began leasing the house in November 2015, and that since then the house has quietly been used as a residential treatment facility for clergy who are dealing only with substance abuse.
Neighbors expressed frustration that they weren’t previously made aware of how the house was being used, and that the city couldn’t do anything about it.
As long as six or fewer people are being treated at such a facility at once, state law dictates that those facilities be treated as single-family homes, according to Robert Stanley, LCF’s director of community development.
Davitt said Sen. Feinstein joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Orrin Hatch in requesting that a study on the issue be completed by February.
“Hopefully we can get some further direction about how we can get some modifications,” Davitt said.
FSHA PLANS CLEARED
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy got the final go-ahead from the City Council to move forward with its Specific Plan. The project is to include a phased improvement and modernization of the campus, which can increase from its existing 217,350 square feet to a maximum of 333,502 square feet. Plans include a multi-level parking structure and the expansion of the arts center and high school building.
Council members voted, 4-0, to approve the second reading and adoption of the ordinance that amends the zoning map. (Councilman Jonathan Curtis abstained.)
SOME MORE PARKING
Council members voted unanimously, 5-0, to approve an amendment to the General Plan Land Use Map in order to allow a new parking lot — capable of accommodating eleven stalls, according to Deputy Director of Community Development Susan Koleda — to be added on a 5,600-foot lot located between Valley Sun Lane and the 210 Freeway.
The Planning Commission recommended the amendment and zone change for the property, a dirt patch of space that formerly was owned by Caltrans and considered right-of-way. With council members’ approval, the lot will be considered part of the “Downtown Village Specific Plan.”
With high winds forecast later this week, Battalion Chief Anderson Mackey said the L.A. County Fire Department planned to upgrade staffing in La Cañada Flintridge, Altadena and La Crescenta.
“They’ll be stationed at Camp 2, ready to respond and mainly protect this side of the Foothills,” he said.
He said locally based firefighters traveled to help out at the Thomas and Creek fires, a development that pleased Curtis, who recalled how grateful LCF residents were that firefighters from other regions helped out during the 2009 Station Fire.
“I’m glad we’re reciprocating,” he said, noting that the Station Fire could have been worse if there had been strong winds.
“I want to commend you and L.A. County Fire for helping out.”