The British Home in California, which is in a part of the state called Sierra Madre, has been around since 1931. Which makes it quite a venerable institution for our village. Here is how they describe themselves on their website (click here):
The British Home is a non-profit organization well known for over eighty years of outstanding service to our senior citizens. The Home is a unique care facility providing gracious retirement living for seniors of all nationalities, races and religions. The Home is located in a quiet residential area of Sierra Madre in the superb climate and attractive foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Home's beautifully landscaped two and a half acres contain five separate cottages, each having its own lounge, kitchen, and individual en-suite bedrooms. The five cottages combined provide high quality living for a total of 37 residents. Three of the cottages are for independent living and two cottages are devoted to assisted living for current residents in need of additional attention. Nursing staff are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
All well and good, and certainly this is an institution that has enjoyed both a fine reputation in Sierra Madre and a good rapport with its immediate neighbors. However, the British Home is now beginning to show very clears signs of wanting to expand their operation. That has some of the people that I have spoken to in that neighborhood expressing some reservations. And the way they are going about it has become a matter of concern as well.
There is a Public Hearing Notice on the matter in this week's Looney Views News. Here in part is what it has to say:
Subject: Conditional Use Permit 12-04 (CUP 12-04); The British Home Specific Plan - Specific Plan No. 12-01 (SP 12-01); Municipal Code Text Amendment No. 12-02 (MCTA 12-02)
Applicant: The British Home
Project Location: 647 Manzanita Avenue and 676 Ramona Avenue
The City of Sierra Madre gives notice, pursuant to State of California law, that the planning Commission will conduct a public hearing to consider a request for a Conditional Use Permit to allow 1) the addition of 754 square feet of floor area to an existing building at 647 Manzanita Avenue, and 2) demolition of an existing single-family home and construction of a new one-story, 3,591-square-foot, 8-bedroom residential building at 676 Ramona Avenue as part of the British Home site. The new building will allow an increase in the total number of residents on the site from 41 to 49.
Date and Time Of Hearing: City of Sierra Madre Planning Commission meeting, Thursday, December 6, 2012, 7 p.m.
So here is the catch. According to the residents from that neighborhood who contacted me, the Ramona Avenue location (pictured above) was purchased without any news of The British Home in California's plans for the site being shared with the City, or anyone else. They just up and did it, and with the assumption that when their efforts got underway they would receive everything they want. A process they have now begun.
It has also been noted that the Ramona home is a well-maintained and attractive residence. If this is the kind of property that is to be razed, then there are really no homes in the area that would not be considered for a similar fate by The British Home. The fear is they could march PacMan style all the way over to Michillinda should that fit their plans for business expansion. The residential ambiance of that community is apparantly not seen as being any sort of hindrance to such a move.
There is also the matter of zoning for that area. The British Home has been around for 80 some odd years, and its institutional status is likely grandfathered in. They were there before any such considerations even existed. However, the neighborhood that surrounds it is all R1, single family homes. This would likely require a zone change to account for the high density nature of their expansion plans, both on Manzanita and Ramona. No small consideration for these parts. Is that something we'd really want for that neighborhood?
Something else that also needs some discussion is this is not a Measure V neighborhood. Should the area be rezoned for high density institutional living, the sky could literally be the limit. And should aggressive elder care expansion become the rule in that area, as it now is elsewhere in Sierra Madre, there really would be nothing to prevent some extremely large structures being built in that area. Even if the rooms inside of them are suites.
Something to keep an eye on next week.
Live Blog Tonight's City Council Meeting!
We'd been kicking this idea around for the last couple of months or so. The notion being that anyone could come onto this blog and comment about what was going on during the City Council meeting as they were watching it on SMTV3. Or even from the Council Chamber itself as City Hall does share its wifi with visitors these days. And during the last City Council meeting Live Blogging really took off with over 180 comments posted by the time everything was over. This was not only highly gratifying, but I also had a lot of great leads and ideas to explore for the next day's meeting wrap up on The Tattler.
So we'll be doing it again tonight. I will be on hand, as will some of The Tattler's most experienced commenters. And, I hope, you will be as well. There will be a wide range of important topics under consideration by the City Council tonight, from budgets and city finances all the way to chickens. Here is your chance to be heard.
Drop by tonight around 6:30 p.m. and join in the conversation. We'll even let you type for more than 3 minutes.