Glendale City Council members Tuesday agreed to give $450,000 to a private group to buy a house and develop it into a residential care home for disabled adults.
Despite protests from about 50 residents from northwest Glendale, the council members--sitting as the city Housing Authority--voted 3-0 in favor of the grant to the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded. Councilman Dick Jutras was absent and Councilman Larry Zarian abstained because he sits on the association's board.
The grant will come from a $2.93-million portion of the city's redevelopment fund, which under state law must be spent on low-income housing, Housing Director Madalyn Blake said.
The association has already opened escrow on a house for the project in the 1100 block of Alma Street. The property was in probate and the association's bid of $359,500 was accepted by the Los Angeles County Probate Court.
The association will use the remaining $90,500 to turn the house into a six-bed residential care home. It plans to remodel the kitchen, add two bedrooms, another bathroom and a wheelchair ramp in the back of the house.
Council members allowed the public to speak on the funding motion, even though a public hearing was not required because state law allows up to six people to live together as a family unit in residential care homes, Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg said.
Residents from the single-family zone filled the council chamber to protest the care home in their neighborhood.
"This group home is nothing but a Trojan horse to break our R-1 zoning," Ed Carlin said. "Why not put it in other zones that you have designated for apartments? Why insist on putting it in an area for single-family homes? We weren't properly notified that this was going to happen. We're very suspicious of your motives."
However, Bremberg told the residents that the city did not look for the house for this project. It was a private purchase and there was no need to notify the neighbors.
"We didn't know which area the house was going to be in," she said. "This one just happened to be available. You wouldn't be here if a family with four boys, four motorcycles and loud music moved in."
Councilman Carl Raggio said the objections neighbors raised were smoke screens to hide the fact that they did not want disabled people living nearby. "Would you object to the use of the funds if the group home was not going to be in your neighborhood?" he asked.
Mayor Jerold Milner told Carlin that the price was not unreasonable for a two-bedroom house.
Another neighbor, Debbie Danihel, objected to the location of the home because it would bring a business into the residential area. "You have a staff caring for six people," she said. "This is looked upon as a facility, not a residence. This is not a typical family."
The group's executive director, Carole Jouroyan, said the group home was not meant to change the area's zoning. "I hope the zone doesn't change. I like the neighborhood the way it is," she said.
"Facts I can deal with. Fears I can't. Of course our clients will look different. You're going to look different if you have Down's syndrome."
The association already has one residential care home for 10 disabled adults in the 700 block of Glenoaks Boulevard. Called the Hamilton House, it has been operating since 1975. Jouroyan said neighbors at first opposed that home too because they were afraid of the unknown, but they have adjusted to it.
There are 20 disabled people on the waiting list to live in a residential care home, she said. The association has not chosen the six for this project.
After the grant was approved, Jouroyan broke into tears as people congratulated her.
"We're going to go in and be good neighbors," she said.