I was overwhelmed by the vehement opposition of residents from several Culver City neighborhoods (Times, March 15) to the plans by four nonprofit groups to develop a few group homes for developmentally disabled adults in their neighborhood.
The unexpected hostility, particularly this year when Culver City celebrates its 75th anniversary, was in sharp contrast to the city's enlightened history of providing needed services to disabled adults.
At several meetings, citizens expressed concern for property values, architectural and environmental values if developmentally disabled individuals became their neighbors. As a parent of a mentally retarded adult son who is in community care, I want to add the concern for human values. Developmentally disabled men and women are vulnerable human beings who need our goodwill and cooperation, not our fears and prejudices.
Culver City residents were introduced to six developmentally disabled adults during one of the meetings. But in all likelihood they have had other encounters with individuals who have disabilities. A developmentally disabled worker may well have bagged their groceries, washed their cars, cut the lawn of a home nearby, prepared supplies in a department store stockroom or helped serve them as part of the clerical force in the Los Angeles Municipal Court. The list goes on.
This was all unheard of not long ago, but in the modern world these courageous workers are given the chance to do it. Today, they are part of the work force, no longer outsiders. However, disabled Californians also need to live in the homelike setting of community-based small group homes.