Despite Opposition, Commission Affirms Walnut Acres ProjectFriday, March 24, 2017
An attempt by homeowners to overturn an approved plan for an assisted living and memory care facility on a parcel in Woodland Hills near a busy shopping area failed at a Thursday planning board hearing held at the Van Nuys City Hall.
The South Valley Planning Commission heard the request for an appeal to the city’s prior approval of the project, a proposed one-story, 60-bed eldercare facility at 6221 N. Fallbrook Ave., by residents in a neighborhood referred to as Walnut Acres. The project is proposed by the property’s owners, John and Thomas Simmers, and the developers, Community MultiHousing Inc. and Chandler Pratt & Partners of Burbank.
At the hearing, supporters and opponents spoke out about the project, which homeowners say has been a long-standing bone of contention. The debate also involved the Walnut Acres Neighborhood Association, which initially opposed the project at its original size and then supported a reduced plan.
Property owner John Simmers spoke at the hearing about the parcel’s proximity to major retail sites and a fire station along Fallbrook, a multi-lane thoroughfare.
“It’s a perfect location for a senior facility center,” he said.
The 1.5-acre property, vacant since 2007, previously housed a private pre-school/daycare center with 114 students in a home. An eldercare ordinance overlay allows such facilities to be built on the property.
Initially, developers planned to build a two-story, 76-bed facility with 60 rooms, which the Los Angeles City Council approved in 2012. The Walnut Acres Neighborhood Association and a handful of property owners sued and the case went to Los Angeles County Superior Court, which overturned the approval. The city rescinded its decision to approve the project based on that decision.
Subsequent negations with the developer reduced the facility and added certain operating requirements, and the city’s zoning administrators approved the project in January. A separate group of homeowners appealed that last approval and the appeal was heard Thursday night.
Opponents spoke about the size of the facility and that it was out of character with the adjacent single-family homes.
“I’m disappointed the commission didn’t listen to residents and (instead) supported the development,” said Chris Moser, a Woodland Hills homeowner.