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VALLEY FOCUS | Encino

Neighbors Protest Proposed Facility

July 16, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

More than two dozen signs posted around the 4900 block of Densmore Avenue, north of Ventura Boulevard, protest a proposed residential facility for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

Freedom Gardens Densmore hopes to open at 4938 Densmore Ave., previously a six-bedroom private residence.

But some residents are upset because the facility's owner and managing partner, Gary Avery, didn't state the purpose of the property when he bought it, according to Joe Blanco, a real estate broker at Century 21 Albert Foulad Realty in Encino.

"When he was buying it, he commented that he had an uncle in a wheelchair," said Blanco, the selling agent on the house. "He never at any time said he would have a place of business there."

On Tuesday, more than 100 residents met with city, county and state officials to discuss the matter at an open forum at the Encino Chamber of Commerce.

"It's an inappropriate place for this facility, especially in a neighborhood with children," said neighbor Mia Levi, one of five appointed to a commission to resolve the issue.

Some residents expressed concerns over the proposed facility, such as possible declines in property values, and increased traffic.

Other neighbors talked of having family members with Alzheimer's, saying they did not want to go through the experience again.

Avery, the owner of the Avery Co., a Sherman Oaks-based senior housing brokerage firm, purchased the Encino home in March. He did not attend Tuesday's meeting, but said he has received a state license to open a residential-care facility on Densmore and is ready to take in patients.

"We came into the neighborhood wanting to be good neighbors and we want to be neighbors," Avery said. "What we would like to do is take care of senior citizens and we will do what it takes to accomplish that."

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