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Idea of School for Youths in Trouble Gains--Temporarily

Times Staff Writer

Despite strong community opposition, a Los Angeles city zoning official Monday approved the opening of a high school for troubled teen-agers in a residential area of Sunland-Tujunga.

Robert Janovici, associate zoning administrator, approved a permit for the Erikson Center for Adolescent Advancement to operate on 15 acres on McGroarty Street formerly occupied by the Sunair Home for Asthmatic Children.

The controversy is far from over, however. Opponents of the school can appeal the zoning administrator’s decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals and, if necessary, the City Council.

They stand a good chance of killing the proposal, which has been opposed by Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents the area. Council members customarily support colleagues on projects in their districts.

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Opponents of the school, which would provide educational programs for 13- to 17-year-olds with “emotional and life problems,” have said it will increase crime, noise and traffic in the hillside neighborhood.

Conditions Imposed

Janovici’s approval was contingent on the school’s taking a number of steps to resolve the residents’ concerns.

“I felt that under the conditions imposed, it could operate in a fashion that could be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,” he said in an interview.

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“Equally important is the fact that there is a need for this kind of facility,” he said.

Janovici approved a first-year enrollment of 30 students, with 20 living at the site. He said enrollment can increase to 72 students with 44 resident students the next year. Teen-agers with a history of criminal activity or drug use would be prohibited from attending the school. Under the conditions imposed by Janovici, the school would be required to send letters to nearby property owners soliciting complaints about problems caused by the school. The school would have to send letters every three months of its first year and then once a year and would be required to act to resolve the complaints.


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