Council Candidate Backs Drug Rehabilitation Center

Times Staff Writer

Lyle Hall on Monday became the first of seven contenders for the 7th District seat on the Los Angeles City Council to support plans to house the Nancy Reagan Center for drug rehabilitation in a former Lake View Terrace hospital.

“Drug abuse is close to being epidemic, not just in the inner city, but right here in the San Fernando Valley,” Hall said at a morning news conference. “It’s time we accept responsibility for doing something about it.”

Neighbors of the 14-acre site on Eldridge Avenue have vehemently opposed the plan, saying the center will draw more drugs and crime to the northeast Valley. Councilman Ernani Bernardi, whom Hall is challenging in the April 11 election, and candidate Jules S. Bagneris III oppose location of the center at the site. The other four candidates have not taken positions.

But Hall said Phoenix House--the nonprofit organization behind the center--should not be treated as “a pariah.” He said that there are only 93 beds for long-term adolescent drug treatment in Los Angeles County.

‘Disservice’ Charged

“The councilman’s opposition to Phoenix House does a disservice to our young people and to their families who need and want help,” said Hall, a Los Angeles fire captain.


Larraine Mohr, a vice president at Phoenix House, lauded Hall for his “refreshing . . . willingness to stand up and say something.”

Phoenix House, which operates 10 centers in New York and California, maintains that support for its plans will increase as Valley residents learn more about the track record of the other centers.

Hall’s announcement “shows he has a real concern about the drug problem and an awareness of the need in that area,” Mohr said.

But Lynne Cooper, president of the Lake View Terrace Improvement Assn., said Hall’s stand demonstrates just the opposite.

“I’m really surprised that anyone who considered the issues would take that stand,” Cooper said. “It’s obvious he knows nothing about the community.”

Since last spring, Phoenix House has been discussing plans to use the former Lake View Medical Center as a live-in treatment center for up to 150 adolescents and 60 adults, and as a research and training institute.

Last week, a city zoning administrator granted Phoenix House the permit necessary to locate the drug-treatment center there. However, Associate Zoning Administrator Darryl L. Fisher said the organization’s administrators must “prove themselves” to the community by participating in a community advisory board and by building a 7-foot wrought-iron fence around the facility, keeping a guard on duty 24 hours a day and installing interior security video cameras.

Neighbors vowed to appeal Fisher’s decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals and to the City Council. Phoenix House may appeal the requirement of security measures, although Mohr said Monday that no decision had been reached.