Staff report dated January 16, 2002, was presented pertaining to a reconsideration of a request to allow a human services agency providing temporary shelter and treatment for up to 16 adults who are recovering from alcoholism and/or drug abuse on property located at 329 East Commonwealth Avenue (north side of Commonwealth Avenue between approximately 350 feet and 400 feet east of Lemon Street) (C-2 zone) (Categorically exempt under Class 1 of CEQA Guidelines) (Continued from December 12, 2001).
Program Planner Linnell reported that this was an identical request to the one presented to the Commission in May 2001. The item was subsequently appealed to the City Council, and was denied without prejudice. After denial by the City Council, the City's legal counsel advised that the applicant was entitled to open a six-bed facility at this location without any discretionary approval. The applicant has already made improvements to the building, and received a Certificate of Occupancy from the Building Department. The applicant now desires to increase the number of beds to 16, and staff recommended approval of that request, subject to seven conditions of approval.
Commissioner Stopper asked for the configuration of the bedrooms upstairs. Program Planner Linnell advised that there were four bedrooms, with four beds in each.
Commissioner Griffin wished clarification on what action has been taken by the City on the use to date. Program Planner Linnell reiterated that the applicant had pulled the necessary building permits for a six-bed rehab facility, made improvements to the building, and a certificate of occupancy was issued. Residents will begin moving into the facility in approximately one week.
Commissioner LeQuire questioned the criteria staff used to support its finding of adequate on-site parking. Program Planner Linnell answered that staff took into consideration how the property would be used, and the fact that residents will not have cars. According to the applicant's stated regulations, there will be only three available parking spaces for use by Woodglen's residents, and the remaining seven spaces are for staff members.
Commissioner Savage asked the following questions of Program Planner Linnell:
- Is this facility considered part of the Downtown or part of any of the Redevelopment areas?
The official Downtown boundaries include the 100 blocks of either side of Harbor Boulevard, and while staff did not consider it to be part of the Downtown, it is in Redevelopment Area No. 2.
- The facility appears to allow 69 square feet for each person. Isn't this too dense for the site?
The density meets the requirements of the Uniform Building Code.
- The staff report stated that there were 11 sparking spaces, but only 10 were counted during a site visit.
The facility is required to have one handicapped space, so one of the 11 original spaces has been converted for that purpose.
Commissioner Stopper questioned if this use would change the taxes collected on this property. Program Planner Linnell said that because this applicant leases the building, the full property taxes are paid by the owner. Chief Planner Rosen added that the applicant must also pay a business license tax.
Public hearing opened.
Pat Brown, Independent Processing Services, 2210 Marine Avenue, Gardena, gave a brief description of the facility and pointed out the following:
- The density of the project meets code requirements.
- One handicapped parking space is being provided among the 10 on-site spaces.
- While the facility has only six beds, the residents will be bussed to the other Fullerton facility for meals. If approved for the additional ten beds, a kitchen is proposed to be constructed in the future on the ground floor of the facility.
- The program is state-certified and licensed.
- The use will not impact any single-family neighborhood and is compatible with the area.
- No problems have been experienced with the other Fullerton facility, and it has proven to be a good neighbor.
- The property owner will pay the taxes for the site, and residents of Woodglen will patronize Fullerton stores.
Commissioner Stopper asked if the second floor of the facility meets ADA requirements.
Kai Giffin, Independent Processing Services, 2210 Marine Avenue, Gardena, responded that a handicapped person would most likely be transferred to another facility more suited to their needs. The one handicapped space being provided would accommodate any staff member who may be handicapped. If a kitchen is built in the future, it will meet all ADA requirements.
Mary Hale, Orange County Health Care Agency, 405 W. 5th Street, Santa Ana, gave a brief history of the county's drug and alcohol programs. She explained that Woodglen Recovery had been a contract provider for the county for over 10 years, and the County audits this and other similar programs on a regular basis. She stressed the need for these types of programs, and the existence of waiting lists for people desiring to enter these programs. All contract providers must comply with the County's "good neighbor policy" such as keeping the grounds clean and not using foul language while outside the building.
Commissioner Stopper inquired as to what percentage of Woodglen's funding comes from the County. Ms. Hale stated that the County supplements whatever a client cannot pay. She added that 100% of Proposition 36 funding comes from the State General Fund.
Commissioner Savage asked if the State mandates a cost per person for this type of program, and Ms. Hale answered negatively, but added that the cost for each Woodglen resident is approximately $58/day per person. Commissioner Griffin questioned how the County analyzes the costs and calculates what is reasonable. Ms. Hale explained that expenditure/revenue reports are submitted to the county and assessments are done on all clients. Fiscal auditors also monitor program costs.
Mr. Giffin stated the following:
- The on-site treatment and counseling sessions are for residents only?the general public does not come to the facility for these services.
- There is only one other six-bed facility of this type in Fullerton, in addition to the 24 beds at the other Woodglen facility. There is not a "cluster" of these facilities in Fullerton.
- Proposition 36 must be supported in Fullerton, per state mandate.
Commissioner LeQuire asked if family visits were allowed. Mr. Giffin said that family visits on Sunday are held at the other Fullerton facility, but structured visits would not be held in the new facility at this time, other than "immediate" visits with counselors, etc.
Commissioner Price asked if the applicant had read and concurred with all conditions of approval, and Mr. Giffin answered affirmatively.
Commissioner Stopper questioned how staff personnel are trained, and if someone is designated to be in charge. Ms. Hale stated that there is a state certification for sober living facilities, which requires two years of counseling experience, and supervisors must have additional supervisory experience. Also, all personnel must attend on-going training classes. Background checks are conducted on all staff members, and program directors are responsible for monitoring day-to-day activities. In response to a question from Commissioner Griffin, Ms. Hale indicated that there would be an "awake" staff member at the facility 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
Commissioner Savage noted in the material received from Woodglen, that they claim a 70% success rate, and asked if this was accurate. Ms. Hale replied that most programs conduct their own surveys, and that the County does not do actual counts. Jeanie Brown, co-director at Woodglen Recovery, reported that they conduct follow-up visits every three months and have a 70% success rate after one year, and a 35% success rate after five years.
Commissioner Wilson was concerned about the number of available parking spaces to accommodate the additional residents and three staff members. Mr. Giffin clarified that there would be only three spaces for the residents who do drive, and they would be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Ms. Brown reminded the Commission that not all 16 residents are on-site at one time: In the first 30 days, two or three residents will enter the program. After 45 days, residents will begin looking for work, and they will be away from the facility for most of the day. The remaining spaces are provided for staff parking.
Mr. Giffin informed the Commission that this facility is an ADA protected use. The Commission could not deny the application on the basis of density or parking, because both issues met UBC requirements. A letter from the Attorney General's office states that cities like Fullerton that not established specific standards to govern this type of use have no defense in these matters. Any comments against this use are in violation of Federal and State law, and the City had no basis by which to deny this use. Furthermore, the provider has a fair and equal right to provide these services in the City of Fullerton.
The following persons spoke in opposition to the request:
- Ronald Soderquist, 3100 San Juan Drive
- Mike Hurst, 122 N. Harbor Boulevard
- Pat Soderquist, 3100 San Juan Drive
- Ernest Oliver, 154 W. Yale Avenue
- Dr. John Marshall, 319 East Commonwealth Avenue
- Richard Melrose, 308 East Amerige Avenue
The points of opposition were:
- The use requires a change in zoning for this area
- The City is losing tax dollars because they are continually undermining existing zoning, particularly in the downtown area
- The project is too dense and not compatible with surrounding neighborhood
- There is no recreational area for the residents
- This use is not part of the vision for the Downtown
- There are concerns about former drug and alcohol users integrating into the nearby residential areas and schools and for the safety of the citizens
The following persons spoke in favor of the request:
- Jacqueline Duarte
- Melody Marlin, 2311 E. Santa Fe Avenue
The points of support were:
- The facility would be an asset to the neighborhood because "bad elements" such as people who do use drugs, do not want a rehab center in close proximity.
- This is an excellent program, which is sorely needed in the community
- The regulations and conditions for residency and treatment provide strong supervision and protect the neighborhood.
Public hearing closed.
Commissioner LeQuire applauded the services provided by Woodglen Recovery, and thanked all who attended to give their comments on this matter. On advice of legal counsel, he stated he would be curtailing most of his comments regarding the project. He expressed his concern that the city was losing its ability to manage and make decisions on land use issues. He requested that a condition of approval be added which would require that Woodglen Recovery be accountable for all conditions, regulations and management policies listed in the booklet entitled "Daylight Again".
Commissioner Savage indicated that he wished to hear the opinions of his fellow commissioners on this matter. While supportive of the work of Woodglen, he felt that a 16-bed facility may be too dense for this building.
Commissioner Wilson concurred with comments made by Commissioner LeQuire and supported the addition of another condition. While he did not consider the use a part of the vision for the downtown, he noted that it is an approved use for the area.
Commissioner Griffin asked the following questions of staff:
- Will the adjacent residents of the other Woodglen facility be notified that an additional 16 persons would occasionally visit that facility for meals, group meetings, etc.
Chief Planner Rosen answered that the original CUP for the Orangethorpe facility allows up to 25 guests, in addition to the residents.
- Have there been any complaints made against the existing facility at 771 W. Orangethorpe Avenue?
Chief Planner Rosen reported that there have been no records of complaints during the last eight years.
- How many residents were approved for the Orangethorpe facility, and how many parking spaces are provided?
Chief Planner Rosen answered that there are 24 residents at that facility, with 40 parking spaces.
Commissioner Griffin reported that this was a difficult decision, because he appreciated the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce to improve the Downtown. He understood the legal limitations of the Commission as informed by legal counsel and supported the project, with the added condition of approval.
Commissioner Stopper reminded those in attendance that the facility has already been approved for six beds, and the Commission would only be determining whether or not to increase that number. He pointed out the strengths of the City, including the universities, airport, railroad transportation, hospital and cultural centers. He also mentioned the many number of "quiet caring" organizations, and felt that Woodglen Recovery was one such organization. He said he would vote to approve the project, as presented.
Commissioner Price stated that, based on legal principles, he understood that his fellow commissioners might feel "handcuffed" in making a decision. He personally visited the Orangethorpe facility and was heartened by statements made by Ms. Hale and Ms. Brown. While this may not be the "highest and best use" of this property, it is an allowed use and needed in the City. He was satisfied that Woodglen Recovery has a proven track record.
Chairman Crane felt that this was not the appropriate location for this use, due to inadequacy of open space, the absence of kitchen facilities, etc. He concurred with Commissioner LeQuire's statement that the City should be able to determine land use. However, based on criteria adopted by the state and on advice of legal counsel, he would vote to approve the project.
There was a consensus of the Commission for approval. The title of Resolution No. 6957 APPROVING a Conditional Use Permit to allow a residential rehabilitation facility (a human service agency) providing temporary living accommodations and treatment for up to 16 adults who are recovering from alcoholism and/or drug/substance abuse, on property located at 329 East Commonwealth Avenue, was read and further reading was waived. MOTION by Commissioner Price, seconded and CARRIED by a five-to-two vote, with Commissioners LeQuire and Wilson voting NO, that said Resolution be ADOPTED AS AMENDED, adding a new condition of approval, adopting all regulations and guidelines of the document entitled "Daylight Again."