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Troubled Teens Facility Seeks to Allay Fears

December 18, 1986|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

The directors of a Tarzana high school for mentally disturbed teen-agers, who want to relocate the school to a residential area of southern Tujunga, defended themselves last week against charges by residents that the facility would produce congestion and crime.

"I know there are doubts, but I feel we will be good neighbors and we won't lower your property values," said Ian Hunter, executive director of the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, sponsor of the school, the Erickson Center for Adolescent Advancement.

Officials of the school, now located in an industrial area of Tarzana, want to move into the Sunair Home for Asthmatic Children, a 15-acre facility in a rural neighborhood that closed in January.

The special high school and residential program for 13- to 17-year-olds with "emotional and life problems," is seeking a conditional-use permit from the City of Los Angeles to use the facility for the treatment of up to 82 mentally handicapped students, with live-in facilities for up to 54. But, at a meeting held last Thursday at Sunair by the Erickson staff to reassure their prospective Tujunga neighbors, residents repeatedly attacked the proposal.

"This is a residential community and we are not prepared to handle behavior problems of this magnitude," said resident Don Sucich, 43.

Some residents said they were also opposed to a home for autistic children, which is next to the Sunair building. Others complained that the school's staff and supply trucks would bring congestion.

There will be a hearing at the Van Nuys Women's Club on Jan. 5 before a city zoning administrator.

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