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Both Sides Appeal Permit for Nancy Reagan Center

Times Staff Writer

All the parties in the fight over the Nancy Reagan Center for drug rehabilitation Thursday filed appeals of a city permit authorizing the center to locate in Lake View Terrace.

Two homeowner groups and Los Angeles City Councilman Ernani Bernardi appealed the permit, issued earlier this month, because they think the center’s operations would conflict with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

And Phoenix House, the nonprofit company proposing the center at the former Lake View Medical Center, appealed conditions imposed by the city’s zoning administrator, such as stringent security measures and a two-year limit on the permit.

The appeals will be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals, which will act Monday to schedule a hearing, a city spokeswoman said. A decision by the board probably will be appealed to the City Council.

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In ruling for the permit March 8, Associate Zoning Administrator Darryl Fisher required seven-foot wrought-iron fences around the 210-bed center and research institute, a 24-hour gate guard and video surveillance cameras inside the buildings.

Larraine Mohr, vice president of Phoenix House, said the conditions “would create a prison-like atmosphere that is certainly not required by the program we run.”

Fisher had awarded Phoenix House only a two-year permit, with the possibility of extension to five years, which he said would force the organization to prove itself to the community.

$10 Million to Be Spent

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But Mohr said a two-year permit would not justify the nearly $10 million that Phoenix House plans to spend to buy and renovate the hospital. It also might put a chill on the organization’s ability to raise money for the center, she said.

Fisher was on vacation and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The Lake View Terrace Improvement Assn., led by President Lynne Cooper, agreed that the security fence would be an eyesore and said that many of the conditions would be difficult to enforce because of privacy laws protecting Phoenix House clients.

The Lake View Terrace Home Owners Assn. objected to the center being considered under planning law intended for schools instead of a regulation that covers drug-treatment centers. It also reiterated a complaint that security preparations for frequent visits by the former First Lady would cause traffic jams on area streets.

But association Vice President Lewis Snow was especially critical of Fisher’s ruling because large sections of his written decision repeat “word-for-word” entries in Phoenix House’s permit application. “We question what investigative work and research was in fact done by the zoning administrator,” Snow said.

In his appeal, Bernardi challenged Fisher’s decision not to require an environmental impact report for the project, particularly because the hospital site is designated for residential development in the city’s Community Plan.


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