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L.A. City Council sends boardinghouse proposal back to committee

A controversial measure aimed at cracking down on illegal group homes in L.A. will be revised in committee over the next three months.

January 30, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
  • Opponents of a proposed L.A. ordinance that would have put new restrictions on group homes and boardinghouses crowded City Council chambers Wednesday.
Opponents of a proposed L.A. ordinance that would have put new restrictions… (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

The Los Angeles City Council opted not to vote Wednesday on a controversial proposal aimed at cracking down on boardinghouses and group homes, an issue City Hall has grappled with for years.

After more than two hours of public comment and discussion, the council instead agreed to form a committee that will revise the Community Care Facilities Ordinance over the next three months.

"This ordinance is not ready for prime time," Councilman Richard Alarcon told a standing-room-only crowd gathered in the council chambers. He triggered applause and cheers when he mentioned three "poison pills" that he said would make it more difficult for nonprofits and group homes to care for the elderly, disabled and homeless.

Finding a solution to illegal, overcrowded group homes in residential areas gained new urgency last month after four people were fatally shot at an unlicensed boardinghouse in Northridge. Councilman Mitchell Englander, whose district includes Northridge, proposed the legislation the following week.

Advocates of group homes formed a line more than a block long outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. Many wore red T-shirts that read "Shared Housing = Fair Housing." Some chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, CCFO's got to go."

"We are deeply concerned," Maria Elena Durazo, the executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, told the council. The federation is part of an "unprecedented partnership" of more than 150 organizations that oppose the proposed crackdown, including nonprofits and business groups, she said.

Crackdown supporters, including multiple neighborhood councils, stressed the need to make group homes and their surroundings safer. One neighborhood representative mentioned a home of parolees across the street from an elementary school. Another brought up a fire at a San Pedro residential hotel that killed a man last week.

"How many more assaults, fires and murders do we need to have before we get serious?" said Edward Headington, of the Granada North Hills Neighborhood Council.

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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