Should the Nancy Reagan Center for drug-abuse treatment be allowed to locate in Lake View Terrace? : AGAINST : FRED TAYLOR


Phoenix House, a nonprofit drug-treatment organization, wants to establish the 210-bed Nancy Reagan Center for drug rehabilitation on the site of the defunct Lake View Medical Center. Los Angeles zoning officials have approved the project but want several security measures added. Homeowner groups in the northeast San Fernando Valley vow to keep fighting the project. Both sides are appealing to the Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals.

Fred Taylor, 50, is a political consultant, an appointed member of the Los Angeles County Children’s Services Commission and owner of a business on a block once considered Pacoima’s busiest spot for drug dealing. He has worked closely with police to fight drugs and argues that a treatment center would hurt Lake View Terrace and nearby communities. Taylor lives in Panorama City with his wife, Janet. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Q. You once said that if Phoenix House were allowed into Lake View Terrace, it would be the straw that would break this community’s back. What did you mean by that?


A. The whole problem is that this community has been kicked so many times, it’s emotionally worn down. Phoenix House is the last nail in the coffin, because of who they represent. You’re talking about Nancy Reagan, Merv Griffin; you’re talking about Mr. T.

These people really don’t know what’s going on in this community. They should come and find out what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to turn this community around. We’re trying to get a library and we’re trying to get a bank. These are basic building blocks of a community, and we don’t have these things.

If the bank finds out that Phoenix House is going to be here, it’s going to hurt our situation drastically. Already, because of the threat of Phoenix House coming in here, a lot of people have moved out of that area.

Q. What are some of the other issues faced by the community?

A. We have the Lopez Canyon Landfill situation. There’s no water in Hansen Dam, whereas monies have been allocated to put a new dam at Sepulveda. We have a dam. All we need is to have the water put back in it.

We have an inordinate number of halfway houses wreaking havoc up here. They’re everywhere in Lake View Terrace, in Pacoima, in Hansen Hills, and a lot of things happen. A lot of burglaries started occurring. Cars getting ripped off. Drunkenness, urination in the street, the whole bit.


What we really have is a community under siege. And this is not a community that is turning its back on its problems. We are actively involved.

Q. Have you made progress in these other battles?

A. Great progress. We had three liquor stores causing us a lot of problems. They were catering to the drug dealers and the drug users. They became hangouts. By noon, right where we’re sitting, there would be 50 to 60 drug dealers here four years ago.

This community took the liquor stores to the zoning administrator to get them to comply with the needs and wishes of the community. I told them at the hearing: ‘You don’t cater to the wino types. You don’t sell alcohol to minors. You don’t create a situation where people are hanging around loitering.’ If you get control of the alcohol situation, you get control of the drug thing.

And now alcohol-related crime is down because some of the liquor stores have gotten the word that we mean business. Two of the three liquor stores have already agreed to start closing their doors at 10 o’clock at night. That’s what we want for the entire northeast Valley. If that happens, the police commander for the area can allocate his men to more serious situations, as opposed to busting drunks and minors buying alcohol and that kind of thing.

Q. How would Phoenix House set your efforts back?


A. Phoenix House is going to be dealing with people who are on rock cocaine. And when you get the urge to get some rock cocaine, you’re going to go get it. And you only have to walk two blocks from that hospital to find a rock house. There’s half a dozen rock houses in and around that hospital.

And it affects all of us. We’re less than 10 minutes away from that hospital here on Glenoaks Boulevard. A year ago, right at the corner of Pierce and Glenoaks, in the Pierce apartments, that was the worst drug-trafficking center in this area.

Q. Phoenix House supporters argue that the drug problem here creates a need for the program in this area. How do you respond to that?

A. The bottom line is that none of the people from this community are going to end up at Phoenix House. They would come from all over the county, and there’s only going to be 200 beds.

I would have problems if someone from this community was placed up there, anyway. Because the individuals selling the cocaine would know they were up there, and they’re going to make every attempt to sell them more cocaine. And there aren’t locks and keys and there aren’t guards up there.

Q. Does the zoning administrator’s ruling that Phoenix House must install a seven-foot fence, video-camera surveillance and hire 24-hour guards ease your mind at all?


A. No. I still wouldn’t approve of it. The thing is that if you climb over the fence from that location, you’re in somebody’s back yard. You’re 100 yards from a convalescent home. You’re a block away from an elementary school. You’re two blocks away from a senior citizens apartment complex. None of Phoenix House’s other locations is in a residential area of that nature. None of them.

Q. Drug-treatment facilities are needed and have to be located in someone’s neighborhood, so why not this one?

A. We’re not saying put this in some other residential area. We had real estate brokers bring in additional properties where Phoenix House could locate where they would be away from people. There were a dozen locations in the county, and they turned every location down.

Q. What has been the effect of the Phoenix House proposal on the community?

A. They’ve caused people who were friends and next-door neighbors to not even talk to each other. That is what bothers me. We need all our efforts and resources to fight the things that we have to fight in the community. Not to be fighting Phoenix House.

We’re all trying to coexist and make it here. For once, we were getting focused on doing some things for our community and that’s what we’re all about. Not about doing a number on Phoenix House.


Q. How do you think it will turn out?

A. The trail we’re on now is going to lead us right into the courts. And if that happens, we’re going to be in big trouble. I don’t know if the community is going to be willing to raise $100,000 just to get started with a lawsuit.