Raya’s Paradise is a West Hollywood based assisted living company (they describe themselves as a board & care company). They operate half a dozen or so small board and care homes (The largest licensed for 11 residents). They are successful with this model and are slowly expanding.
They recently purchased a parcel of land just off trendy Melrose Avenue in Hollywood with duplex zoning. Their goal was to build a single building licensed for 11 dementia residents. Their thinking was that because state and local regulations would allow two 6 bed facilities side by side building a single 11 resident building would be easier on the neighborhood and create a more efficient staffing model. They also felt it would reduce the impact on parking.
Public notice was provided to the neighbors and they went nuts. They are concerned about more parking headaches (already a problem in the area), more ambulances and more traffic. They pointed out that within their immediate proximity there are already 24 licensed senior care facilities with 3 more pending applications. Perhaps most importantly they worry that another “care home” will hurt their property values.
Here are a couple of quotes from the neighbors:
"I have nothing against people in rehab. I have nothing against older people," said a 20-year resident. "It's still a business.... If I wanted to live downtown, I'd live downtown."
“Our community already has numerous senior homes, which is fine. But it sounded like this operator wanted to create a Godzilla-like complex on a quiet residential block – without providing any parking for the business’s employees, and without working with neighbors to mitigate any problems that could arise. That, we don’t need.”
As of the writing of this article, the developers have appealed the decision to the Los Angeles City Council and filed a complaint against the city of Los Angeles, with California State Department of Fair Employment and Housing claiming discrimination by the City.
More Headaches for Senior Housing?
As a business development officer for Vigil Health Solutions, where we sell the best emergency call systems in the marketplace, I carefully watch a number of sources for the development of new senior housing communities. I have noticed over the past several months, senior housing communities seem to be facing more resistance from local communities. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking and ambulance noise. While cities like the new jobs and senior housing still has kind of a “feel good aurora” it does not do much to contribute to the sales tax base and can put additional pressure and the “emergency medical services” system.
Many years ago I was charge of the development of an assisted living community and there were a handful of neighbors were unhappy with the project. As part of the application process we made note that many of employees would ride the bus to work with a stop being located right across the street. One of the neighbors responding by saying they did not really want the kind of people who would ride a bus to work, in their neighborhood. Today, it is unlikely that anyone would say something like that out loud, but I can’t help thinking this is an underlying reason for resistance.
I am more and more convinced that national, regional and local developers and operators need to spend as much time in collaboration as they do in competition. This a perfect example of where working together to create a compelling story that highlights the benefits of senior housing to the local neighborhood would benefit everyone.
Sources for this article:
Senior Living Facility on Sierra Bonita Still Breathing
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