Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Public Hearing on Thursday, August 28 th



Please Note the address was originally published wrong this is the correct address:

Van Nuys City Hall
14410 Sylvan Street
Councilor Chambers, Second Floor

8:30 am

An official public hearing before the City of Los Angeles Planning Commission has finally been scheduled to hear community concerns regarding the Saint Joseph Center at Lincoln and Flower. For several years we have voiced our concerns that this operation is not appropriate next to a residential community. For several years Saint Joseph’s has promised to operate as a good neighbor, but they have not.

Our time has finally come for our voice to be heard as a community, in an official and public forum. Please come to this critical and final leg of this political and bureaucratic process, and let the City Planning Commission know of your concerns. 24 hours a day the community is impacted.

The community deserves better.

The homeless deserve better.

The City Planning Commission needs to know.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 Time: 8:30 AM
Van Nuys City Hall
14410 Sylvan Street
Councilor Chambers, Second Floor

The attached pictures say it all. It will only get worse, unless we voice our concerns NOW.

InformaciĆ³n en EspaƱol acerca de esta junta puede ser obtendia llamando al (213) 978-1300.

Address Any Communication To:
200 North Spring Street, Room 272
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-1300

For those who do not know the background for the hearing:

On October 18, 2007, the neighbors whose property abuts St.JosephCenter at its new location at 404 Lincoln Blvd. had a hearing before a Zoning Administrator, Ms. Pat Brown. The location at 404 Lincoln Blvd. is zoned as a Commercial property and St. Joseph Center applied for a permit to use the location as a Counseling and Referral Center. It is our contention that the offering of showers, laundry, mail pick-up and a “hang out” for coffee does not fit the described use of Counseling and Referral.

For that reason some members of the community appealed the Planning Department’s granting of a permit to St. Joseph Center and asked that this permit be retracted.

We were well-represented by counsel and many concerned community residents, some had to take the day off from work to attend but we feel this is an important matter concerning our quality of life in our neighborhood. This October hearing was to determine if our request for retraction of the use permit granted to St. Joseph Center as Office for the use of Counseling and Referral would be upheld.

We have not heard the result of this hearing which was supposed to be sent to us within 3 to 4 weeks after the hearing, instead this April 2008 we were notified that we have to appear again and have the hearing repeated. WHY we asked? We never got an answer.

St. Joseph Center was represented by George Milstein of Latham and Watkins who said his firm was representing St. Joseph Center “pro bono” therefore we felt it was important for the neighbors to also hire an attorney NOT "pro bono" but from the $ contributions collected from the neighborhood.

Prior to the hearing, our lawyer had requested that our evidence be heard by an “outside” zoning administrator. He had uncovered evidence that the chief of the Planning Department for Los Angeles, Michael LoGrande, had acted to assist St. Joseph Center gain their permit after our initial appeal had been supported by Building and Safety. Mr. LoGrande is the superior to all the zoning administrators, in effect signs their checks, and so it was felt that our community could not receive an unbiased hearing.

We were assured that Ms. Brown would consider our appeal based only on the merits of evidence and law relating to the existing zoning codes. She also stated that, although there were many people there to give testimony to the merits of St. Joseph Center’s work, that was not what the hearing was about, but that the hearing was related only to
application of use to existing zoning codes.

It seems the advocates for St. Joseph Center were not listening as they stood to give “sentimental” testimony anyway. We are well aware of the need for services to the homeless and needy. Our only contention is the legality and inappropriateness of the operation at Lincoln and Flower so closely located next to the residents.

We were assured that Ms. Brown is insulated from the political environment. Her position, as a ZA (Zoning Administrator) was likened to a Supreme Court justice in terms of being insulated from politics and firing.

We stated our case. We offered documentation and many pictures to validate our statements. We were well-represented by our lawyer and community members. We have nothing further to prove in the loss of quality of life, health and safety endangerment, etc. No one can dispute what has come to our community if they open their eyes and look!

Ms. Brown listened and was very focused, respectful and attentive to all speakers. We too, listened and were attentive. Some in the audience which were people St. Joseph Center brought made fun of some of our statements and in that sense were discourteous to our speakers and ultimately, after they had made their own statement, just walked out and did not listen to any of our opposing views and concerns.

We continue to be touched unpleasantly by the existence of the recreational vehicle population which has come to our very doorsteps. They are here because they want to be near St. Joseph Center which provides services to them, laundry, showers, mail pick up, food. The city has made no steps to provide an area and sanitation for the recreational vehicles to park, their best
effort is to keep reshuffling them.

We all feel the effect of St. Joseph Center as their clientele walks past our property . There are many of their clientele who are courteous and law abiding but many are not. St. Joseph Center has told us that 80% of their clientele has some sort of mental illness. How would you like to have 100 mentally ill people visiting your next door neighbor on a daily basis?

We have many complaints about the vomit, empty beer cans, broken vodka bottles and used needles and condoms which transients deposit in the very yards our toddlers play in on their way back to their vehicle or “spot” from lunch or an afternoon on the beach. Our children are getting used to having to walk over unconscious individuals lying in the streets, groups "chilling" with loud "party" goings on, violent outbursts, threats against passers by, insane screaming, urination etc.

Drive down Lincoln Blvd. between Rose Ave. and California and you can easily see what is going on.

Steering Committee
Venice SONIC

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