Highlands Eldercare Facility Decision Appealed
By SUE PASCOE
(Editor’s note: This is the first of a four-part series about the proposed eldercare facility in the Highlands.)
“Why don’t ‘these’ people want an eldercare facility in the Highlands?” a resident asked this reporter in Gelson’s supermarket early this month.
“We are not opposed to an eldercare facility or development projects in general,” said Sarah Conner, president of the Pacific Palisades Residents Association. “We’re just opposed to the lack of parking and the size of this facility. The PPRA also discovered that notification from the Coastal Committee to appellants was inadequate and that some of our documents never made it into the [Coastal Commission] Staff Report.”
Appeals regarding the 64,646-sq.-ft. facility were dismissed on July 11 when no substantial coastal-related issues were found by the Coastal Commission. Two weeks later, an appeal by PPRA was filed in California Superior Court against the City of L.A. and the Coastal Commission. The PPRA seeking a writ of mandate, which is a court order to a government agency to follow the law by correcting its prior actions.
The facility will have 82 units (96 residents), but the City only mandates 65 parking spaces and 10 bike spaces, based on a formula of 0.2 automobile parking spaces for each guest bed in Alzheimer’s/dementia care housing and 1.0 parking spaces for each guest in assisted living. LAMC Sec. 12.21, A.4(d)(5).
I contacted Lauren Alba, a Department of City Planning public relations specialist, with two questions: 1. Since many people who have relatives in upscale eldercare facilities hire one or two shifts of private caregivers to be with their loved one daily, where would the extra helpers/family park? And 2. Where do the doctors, janitors, nurses, barbers/hairdressers and administrative staff park? Would they be relegated to street parking?
Alba reiterated that there would be 66 parking spaces, one more than required by law, and “Allocation of those spaces would be at the discretion of the operator,” she wrote in an email to Circling the News on August 3.
The proposed project is located about half a block from the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail to Trippet Ranch (hikespeak.com), which is part of Topanga State Park. The street provides the only public parking for the trail.
PPRA argued that the Coastal Commission failed to take into account access for hikers to state parks when it approved the facility, and that 66 parking spaces would not adequately cover the institution’s needs, which meant facility staff would need to park on the street.
This reporter checked with Atria, the existing senior living center in Pacific Palisades, about its parking.
Atria on Sunset has studio, one- and two- bedroom apartments designated not only for assisted-living seniors, but also for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
Atria, a luxury senior facility, generally houses about 47 seniors at its facility on Sunset, just west of Via de la Paz.
Currently, there are 38 people living there, with a few openings available. With that number of residents, Atria has a 51-member staff that provides around-the-clock coverage during three shifts.
Deliveries are done in the rear of the building and staff parking is on-street–generally Sunset or Temescal Canyon Road.
Even though Atria is near a major hiking trail in Temescal Canyon Park, there are numerous parking lots for hikers’ cars (payment required), so access to trails is not a major issue.
One member of the Atria staff, who did not wish to be quoted, felt that if the Highlands facility had 96 residents, more than 110 staff would be needed to cover the three shifts.
Tomorrow, Circling the News examines facility size.