Housing and public safety

The City Council must take into account the general impact of the proposed ordinance
Housing and public safety
December 8, 2012authors

Reaction to a multiple homicide in a Northridge boarding house has led the City Council to propose a new ordinance. We think the impact of this ordinance throughout the city must be evaluated before the measure is approved in January.

The measure, known as the Community Care Facilities Ordinance, proposes to establish operating licenses (which do not exist today) and stricter supervision, and to change the designation of these homes so that they cannot be located in residential areas.

We are concerned that the measure championed by Councilmember Mitch Englander—who represents the district where the murders occurred—reflects a public safety matter that will have a negative impact on another major problem for our city: the lack of affordable housing for rent and purchase.

The exemption that is being considered for shelters for victims of domestic violence in fact recognizes the potentially negative impact this measure will have, leaving people out on the street.

It is very likely that this will also happen with similar homes, those housing recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, and parolees. In the best of cases, these homes will be displaced to less well-off areas, like East and South LA.

It is understandable to have regulation that oversees these types of boarding houses and group homes, but the measure should not be an impulsive reaction to a horrific crime. Instead, it should be a well-thought-out policy that considers the consequences and legal ramifications, like for example federal antidiscrimination housing laws.

The Public Safety Committee, which Englander chairs, scheduled the measure for a vote by the full City Council in January. The ordinance should also be reviewed by local housing officials to measure its impact on that sector.

An ordinance of this kind, drafted exclusively in the heat of the moment after the murders, won’t lead to a policy that benefits all Angelenos.