A religious group founded by the late Mother Teresa will not be able to continue serving homeless people in a historic mansion near downtown Los Angeles.
The Central Area Planning Commission denied the Missionaries of Charity Brothers--a Roman Catholic order founded in India--a conditional use permit and zone variance that would have allowed them to continue the services.
A zoning administrator had denied the special permits, and the Brothers had appealed.
"I'm really angered," Brother Joseph McLachlan said. "We tried to offer a home to the poor. They tell us we can't do that--the city of Los Angeles, the City of Angels."
Those who opposed the aid program at the house said they thought the assistance should be provided in a nonresidential area, even though they appreciated the Brothers' work.
"It is a land-use decision, and the board has determined that," said Mary Ann Huchison, the Brothers' next-door neighbor. "And that's what we supported all along."
The Planning Commission board said a residential neighborhood was not the place for a shelter.
"We can't just say because we think you're wonderful people, it's OK. Otherwise, we would have chaos," said Beverly Ziegler, president of the board.
Since 1992, the order had operated Nuestro Hogar (Our Home)--a program that serves about 80 homeless people a meal, provides showers and offers religious services three times a week--at the 97-year-old house on Alvarado Terrace in the Westlake district.
But the area is also home to an active residents association, which has told zoning officials that the Brothers' use of the house violated the street's residential zoning and that the men who frequented the house made the community unsafe.
A year ago, officials decided that the use violated zoning codes.
In response, the Brothers applied for the conditional use permit and zoning variance. But earlier this summer a zoning administrator denied that request--leading to Tuesday night's appeal before the commission.
At the hearing, the Brothers' lawyer said the house was a church and philanthropic institution--both of which can be conditionally permitted uses in a residential area.