The city of Torrance is seeking an alternate site for the office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency in an effort to end a dispute over whether the organization belongs in a newly revitalized commercial district.
The organization has been in the process of trying to purchase the old Pacific Telegraph building, but business owners in the area do not want the group to move in. Under an agreement between the two parties, the city has 90 days to find another location for the organization.
If a site is found, the city will purchase the Pacific Telegraph building from the City Council and allow another tenant to move in. If it does do not find an adequate site, the City Council will move into the building.
Although the Planning Commission approved the council's purchase of the building, merchants have complained that a drug and alcohol treatment center did not belong in the retail area. Business owners hoped that a microbrewery, proposed by an Orange County businessman, would be located in the building and serve as an anchor for the $44-million redevelopment project.
Betty Batenburg, executive director of the center, said the hostility she received from business owners clinched the decision to find an alternate site. She said the organization, which has been located around the corner from the commercial area for 23 years, would not be able to go about business with so much resentment from the community.
"The people were so explosive that it wasn't worth it for us to buy a building," Batenburg said. "We need to be living in harmony so this was a good compromise."