Elder Care Issue

March, 2015 Trial Update
September 2014, SFHOA Members Vote Against Settlement Proposal
Dear SFHOA Members:

At the SFHOA members meeting last night, Mr. Selan and his attorney presented a settlement proposal calling for a 39 unit, 30,000+ square foot eldercare facility to be built on Mr. Selan’s property at the corner of Parthenia and Shoshone.  They explained a number of reasons why, in their opinion, the SFHOA should accept their proposal.

Following their presentation, and after they left the room, SFHOA Board Members and our attorney explained a number of pros and cons to the proposal.  Many audience members then took the opportunity to ask questions, make comments, or express opinions.

A vote was then taken by written ballot: “Yes” for the proposal as presented or “No” against the proposal.  The votes were tallied after the meeting, with the result being a near-unanimous “No” vote.

Meanwhile, immediately after the end of the meeting and before the votes were counted, the Board learned that Mr. Selan had withdrawn his settlement offer via email from his attorney to ours at 8:31 pm – which was after his presentation but before the end of our discussion and vote.   Our attorney did not see the email until after the meeting because his cell phone was (appropriately) turned off during the meeting.

Whether we consider Mr. Selan’s withdrawal irrelevant as his proposal was voted down by the membership or the vote moot because it came after the proposal was withdrawn, the effect is the same:  there will be no settlement at this time.  Mr. Selan presumably will continue his case against the North Valley Area Planning Commission’s rejection of his 112 unit eldercare project, and the City Attorney and the SFHOA will continue to fight his claims in court.  It is also possible that Mr. Selan will withdraw his current lawsuit and file a new plan for his property with the City Planning Department.

We will, of course, keep the membership fully advised of all developments in this matter and urge you all to continue to check the SFHOA website www.sherwoodforestHOA.org regularly for updates.

As discussed last night, lawsuits can be costly and even with the amount collected last night, additional funds will be required down the line to continue this battle.  If you have not yet made a donation, please consider doing so. There is a donation tab on our website (which will be operational again on 9/12/14).

The Board thanks the many concerned and committed SFHOA members who attended the meeting last night, and also thanks all of those who made donations to the legal fund.  Your contributions enable the SFHOA to continue to protect the interests of the homeowners of Sherwood Forest.

Best Regards,
Tom Bramson, President
SFHOA

July 2014 Eldercare Update
We would like to bring you up-to-date on important things that have been happening in the Parthenia Eldercare Facility matter.

As you know, your HOA Board was successful in its appeal to the North Valley Area Planning Commission (“APC”) to overturn the Zoning Administrator’s decision granting Mr. Selan the right to construct a 112 unit, 65,797 square foot assisted living and memory care facility on his property at 17531 Parthenia Street.  Thank you again to the many concerned neighbors who turned out for the hearing.  Your support was critical to our success.

After the hearing, Mr. Selan filed a lawsuit against the APC, appealing its decision.  He asks, among other things, that the APC’s decision in our favor be overturned and that the Zoning Administrator’s decision be reinstated.  This case is pending before the Los Angeles Superior Court.  The City Attorney is defending the APC in the lawsuit.  Mr. Selan did not name the SFHOA as a party to the lawsuit because his complaint is against the actions of an administrative body (the APC).

Mr. Selan’s Superior Court case was discussed at length at the SFHOA General Membership Meeting held on March 26, 2014, and a vote was taken to decide what, if anything, the SFHOA should do regarding the lawsuit. Those present at the meeting voted unanimously that the SFHOA Board of Directors hire an attorney and seek a court order allowing the SFHOA to intervene  (become a formal party) in the case in order to be able to protect the interests of the SFHOA’s members.

Given this mandate, the Board hired attorney Mark Shipow, who represents other community groups in similar cases.  Mr. Shipow appeared in Court on our behalf last month.  Based upon Mr. Shipow’s requests and the supporting written documents prepared by him and volunteer attorney Connor Boyd, the Court set a hearing date for our motion to intervene for June 18 and a trial date for the whole case of November 19, 2014.

On April 24, attorney Shipow received the summary of a settlement proposal from Mr. Selan’s attorney.  Allegedly, Mr. Selan is willing to reduce substantially the size of the proposed facility from a two-story, 65, 797 square foot structure to a one-story 30,000 square feet structure, with the number of units reduced from 112 to 39.  He also is willing to change the primary focus of the facility from assisted living to memory care.  In order to give the SFHOA time to consider this new proposal, he agreed to the SFHOA being made a party to the Superior Court case thus saving us fees and costs we otherwise would incur in a contested hearing on our intervention motion.  The City Attorney also agreed “not to oppose” the SFHOA’s inclusion in the suit, and on May 16, the Court entered its order making the SFHOA a party to the lawsuit and continuing the trial date in the case to January 30, 2015.

Meanwhile, the SFHOA Board of Directors met with its legal team on May 6 and again on May 14 to consider Mr. Selan’s new proposal and all other matters regarding the pending case.  It was decided that, because the SFHOA Board of Directors represents all of the SFHOA members, it will not agree to any settlement without approval from a majority of the membership at large.

At this time, Mr. Selan is preparing detailed plans of his new proposal, which he expects to present to the Board within the next three weeks.  Once the Board has received and had an opportunity to consider the plans, a Special Meeting of the SFHOA Membership will be held to give all SFHOA members the opportunity to review the new plans, hear the Board’s recommendations, voice their opinions, and vote on how to proceed.  The SFHOA Board will then act on behalf of all SFHOA members in accordance with the majority’s decision.

Please note the following very important things:

The SFHOA legally represents its members and ONLY it’s members.  Consequently, only members in good standing of the SFHOA will be admitted to the Special Meeting and permitted to voice opinions and vote on the issues. If you have not paid your dues, you are not a member in good standing of the SFHOA and will not be admitted to the meeting.
There is only ONE vote per household.  Voting will be by written ballot.
The SFHOA Board represents the majority opinion of its members.  This does not preclude individual members or non-members from pursuing their own legal rights.  If you wish to pursue your own, individual rights with respect to the pending lawsuit or any other matter, we urge you to retain your own counsel and to do so immediately.
You will receive another letter from us once the Board of Directors receives the new plans from Mr. Selan and has had them reviewed by experts.   Please continue to watch your mail, email and the SFHOA website for further information about this matter and the upcoming Special Meeting.  We also are looking for experts in the fields of architecture, land use and planning, landscape design and maintenance, and law willing to volunteer their assistance with this critical matter.

Meanwhile, remember that in order to have a voice in the Board’s decision you must be a member in good standing of the SFHOA.  If you have not yet paid your dues for the year, we urge you to do so now.

We thank you for your continuing care and concern for our unique community.  If you have questions or comments regarding anything in this letter or wish to volunteer your help, please contact the Board at [email protected] or at our legal hotline number 818-349-9034.

Sincerely,
Tom Bramson

SFHOA PresidentWE WON
Last night the North Valley Area Planning Commission agreed with our appeal by a unanimous vote; 5-0.
Important Update on the Proposed Eldercare Facility:  Town Hall Meeting with Englander on June 4
Planning Commission Hearing on June 20
Elder Care Project in Sherwood Forest-LA Times Article
Please go to the following link and leave your comments for the LA Times article published on Sunday.

March 24, 2013 LA Times’s Article

Important Information Regarding Eldercare Facility Application
Please be aware that there is an editorial in the LA Times today regarding our case.  It is a fairly short article that fails to take a strong stand one way or another.  It does, however, identify the project as having been downsized to 112 units and 65,797 square feet.

The SFHOA has learned that, at the very last moment, applicant Fred Selan filed new plans for a slightly smaller facility. While the time for public comment has passed, the SFHOA has lodged a protest with the Zoning Administrator pointing out that the applicant had over 2 months to change his plans but refused to do so until such time he could be certain that the community would have no opportunity to respond.

That said, we did cover the possibility of last-minute plan changes in our Rebuttal documents that were filed with the Zoning Administrator last Monday.

The Zoning Administrator has stated that it will take him at least 2 weeks to review everything and enter his decision.

Thank you for your continued concern for our community.

The Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association

Residents battle proposed Northridge elder-care complex
Zoning changes have put such facilities in neighborhoods, where critics say they don’t belong. The Northridge plan’s fate is set to be decided this week.

By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
March 18, 2013

Northridge homeowners are fighting construction of what they call a “Costco-sized” local elder-care home, the latest in a series of skirmishes since the city changed its rules to allow senior-care residences almost anywhere.

The 83,000-square-foot, three-story elder-care home proposed for Sherwood Forest, in southern Northridge, would sit among single-family homes on large lots flanked by citrus trees.

Residents there are working hard to keep it out. More than 825 of them signed a petition in protest, and scores packed a three-hour zoning hearing to speak against it. When a representative for the developer defended the project, the crowd jeered.

The city passed an ordinance in 2006 allowing elder-care facilities in almost all zones, including areas designated residential-agricultural, provided they comply with certain guidelines. The purpose was to streamline the process for building Alzheimer’s- and dementia-care housing, assisted-living homes, senior independent housing and skilled nursing care facilities.

Previously, projects for seniors were subject to more complex regulations, and “developers had challenges getting these types of facilities developed,” said Alan Bell, deputy planning director for the city of Los Angeles.

Supporters marshaled statistics on the city’s rapidly aging population to make a case that the change was necessary, he said. Within the next two decades L.A. County will gain 867,000 senior citizens 65 and older, according to a recent study by the USC Population Dynamics Research Group.
But since the elder-care ordinance was enacted, plans for senior-care projects in bedroom communities have spawned fierce battles.

Chatsworth residents are fighting a proposal for a 99-bed assisted-living and Alzheimer’s facility on 2.4 acres of property zoned for horses on DeSoto Avenue.

Last year, a 156-bed elder-care facility planned for a rustic Tarzana neighborhood was denied on appeal to the local area planning commission. A similar 76-bed institution, which weathered stiff opposition, got permission to go forward in the Walnut Acres section of Woodland Hills after the Los Angeles City Council overturned the local planning commission’s rejection of the project.

The clashes have even given rise to a new group called the Community Rights Foundation of Los Angeles. Its aim is “to fight this attack on zoning in Los Angeles,” said the group’s vice president, Lisa Cerda, who helped champion the defeat of the proposed Tarzana facility.

Officials at the L.A. Department of City Planning said the agency had received applications for 10 elder-care permits since the ordinance passed. Of these, six were approved, one was denied and three are still pending. But the number of developers seeking to build elder-care facilities is probably much higher, since those that meet zoning requirements need only a building permit, said Tom Rothmann, a senior city planner.

Sherwood Forest homeowners are adamant that the162-bed facility proposed for 2.3 acres at Parthenia Street and Shoshone Avenue would be an eyesore and ruin the character of the quiet, semirural neighborhood. They also fear that the structure, which will stand two stories high, with a three-story wing in the central courtyard, would worsen traffic and noise.

And they don’t buy the argument that a dearth of homes makes it necessary. Their research found 73 such institutions within five miles of the proposed venture, and in one case there were three facilities within three blocks of each other, they said.

“We’re not opposed to it in a business area. We just don’t think it should be put in the middle of our community,” said Tom Bramson, president of the Sherwood Forest Homeowners Assn.

Irene Boyd said the former farming community’s pastoral charm is what attracted her to the area in 1989. Mature pines and eucalyptus trees tower over wide streets, most without sidewalks.

“What’s being proposed is undeniably, on its face, incompatible with our community,” Boyd said.
The project would be “far too big, overly dense and intense” for the neighborhood, according to a statement from City Councilman Mitch Englander, whose jurisdiction covers Sherwood Forest.

Longtime community resident and attorney Fred Selan, who has a home on the property and is applying for a permit to build the facility, declined to speak to The Times.

In December, Los Angeles attorney Ted Stein invited the board of the homeowners association to tour the site of the proposed elder-care home. He showed board members renderings of the structure and told them that he was the project’s developer and Selan’s partner, according to Bramson, the group’s president, and others who participated in the tour.

Stein, a former airport commission president, also owns property across the street from the proposed facility. He did not return calls for comment.

During the recent zoning hearing, Athena Novak, a community outreach specialist working for Selan, told Associate Zoning Administrator Fernando Tovar that many existing elder-care facilities lacked vacancies.

Another representative for the property owner, Tom Stemnock, president of Planning Associates Inc., dismissed the homeowners’ concerns. The home would be open to residents ages 75 years and older, Stemnock said. It would be buffered by a 6- to 8-foot hedge, parking would be ample and deliveries regulated, he said.

Tovar is expected to rule on the issue Wednesday.
[email protected]

Read the story on the LA Times site.

Response from the Councilman’s Office presented today at the hearing.

Dear Neighbors,
Last night the Northridge South Neighborhood Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to join with the SFHOA in OPPOSING the Elder Care Facility Proposal.  Thank you to all the neighbors who showed up and to those of you who spoke. Thanks also to the Board of NSNC for their thoughtful consideration of the issue and for a well run meeting.

Councilman Englander Responds to SFHOA
So What’s Next?
  • The City Planning Case known as ZA-2012-3545  ELD-SPR is being reviewed by a City Planning Department staff member who will be looking at aspects of the proposal including the environmental report (MND) prepared by the Developer.
  • Once he has finished his investigation, which should be about the middle of February, he will write a report and send it to the Zoning Administrator assigned to the case who will hold a public hearing on the application. 
  • The City Planning Public hearing is tentively scheduled to for March 5 @ noon at the Braude Building, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd, 1st floor, Van Nuys and everyone is encouraged to attend.
  • Members of the public may submit comments about the proposal to the Zoning Administrator in writing before the hearing and may also make oral arguments at the hearing.  Please see instructions on the web site about where to send your letters and suggestions about what to say.
  • After the hearing, the Zoning Administrator will issue a written Letter of Determination, either approving or denying the application and stating the reasons for doing so. 
  • Anyone who disagrees with the Zoning Administrator’s decision can file an appeal.
  • If an appeal is filed, then the matter will be set for hearing before the North Valley Area Planning Commission.  Again, members of the public may file letters in advance of the hearing and may also speak at the hearing which will be held at the Braude Building.
  • After that hearing, the Area Planning Commission will issue a written decision which is final.  Any further appeal must be made to the courts.
  • We will continue to provide detailed information about the law, the application process and the progress of the case on this website. If you would like to be kept up to date about the matter and receive information about how to file comments and make oral arguments, please be sure that we have your contact information. 
Thank you!
Letter to the Developers

Dear Tom, Ken and Athena,
Thank you for attending the Community Meeting last night.  We appreciate your taking time to present your plans and to answer questions from concerned homeowners in the neighborhood.
While we honestly did our best to keep the proceedings calm and neutral, in all fairness this is not an issue that our community is capable of viewing dispassionately.  To their credit, most, if not all, of the questions and comments from those in attendance were thoughtful, intelligent and to the point.  We appreciate that you were able to answer many and disturbed, as was the audience of nearly 500, that there were many you could not.
Since you were able to witness this community’s passion, commitment and solidarity first hand, we hope that you will take this information back to the property owner Mr. Selan and the developer, Mr. Stein, whose name you seem to have forgotten last night.  We, like the audience, regret that neither chose to attend.  Both of these gentlemen have made representations to us in the past that they are entitled to the permit as a matter of right and that the proposal will be supported by the majority of the surrounding community.  As you now indisputably know, both of these representations are patently false.
Based on the unanimous vote of opposition last night, it is clear that members of this community will stand united for what is likely to be a long and expensive battle.
Accordingly, on behalf of the community at large and in the sprit of neighborly cooperation, we hereby formally request that the ElderCare Facility Unified Permit Application, Sight Review Plan and Environmental Assessment Application for 14545 Parthenia Street be withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Tom Bramson, President
Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association
Their Response
Tom,

First, thanks for inviting us and allowing us to present the proposed project and answer questions Wednesday evening.  You did a good job of organizing and running the meeting and I appreciate your efforts.

It’s clear to me that those present don’t want an eldercare facility on this property.  However, I respectfully disagree with their interpretation of the law.  We will be moving forward with the project according to the City procedures, and look forward to building something that will serve the needs of the elderly and fit into the fabric of the community.

Tom Stemnock, President
Planning Associates, Inc.
4040 Vineland Avenue, Suite 108
Studio City, CA  91604
Phone:  (818) 487-6789
Fax:  (818) 487-6760