Shelter for Abuse Victims OKd Over Protests : Neighborhoods: Eli Home can use Anaheim Hills site to house up to 22 people. Area residents had cited crowding, traffic problems and potential for violence.


Overriding objections from some neighbors, the City Council voted to allow an emergency shelter for abuse victims to open in an upscale Anaheim Hills neighborhood.

"Clearly, this project is about solving problems in our society," said Mayor Tom Daly. "That's why I'm supporting this project."

The vote will allow the Eli Home to renovate a run-down structure at the southeast corner of Santa Ana Canyon Road and Canyon Crest Drive to accommodate up to 22 people.

Councilman Frank Feldhaus, who cast the only vote against the permit, said the shelter would be too cramped with that many people. Councilman Bob D. Simpson was absent.

The council had postponed a decision on the home's proposal in August after neighbors complained about the original design and safety of the proposed shelter.

After Tuesday night's vote, Gene Secrest, who lives next door to the site and who hired an attorney to fight the proposal, said he probably will challenge the council's decision in court.

"We don't feel it's in the best interest of the children," Secrest said. The children's rooms "are smaller than the inside of your car, and that's not suitable."

The Eli Home, which has been honored by the last two U.S. Presidents, offers emergency shelter and counseling to victims of abuse. Annually, the organization helps more than 1,000 clients, mostly youths who have suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

Neighbors opposed to the project said the Eli Home would "devastate" their community by bringing in more traffic and potential for violence. Neighbors said they fear that an angry spouse may attack someone at the shelter or nearby.

The Eli Home unveiled new architectural plans for its .22-acre site to the council Tuesday. The new plans eliminate a proposed third floor, which originally had been proposed. The new proposal calls for eight bedrooms instead of nine, to accommodate up to seven adults, 14 children and a house manager.

Along with 24 other conditions, Jack Rubens, the attorney representing Secrest and other neighbors, asked the council to limit the home's total occupants to 10 temporary residents plus a live-in manager. Rubens also requested that the home's roof not be made of metal, which would be unlike the roofs of surrounding residences.

The council, however, rejected tacking on the proposed conditions to the home's permit.

Daly chastised attorneys representing both sides for failing to discuss the home's revised plans and for introducing dozens of new conditions for the council to consider hours before Tuesday's meeting.

"You whip out conditions at the last minute, and our staff has to deal with them," said Daly. "It's very disappointing."

Eli Home officials say the Anaheim Hills property, which they purchased for $125,000, is an ideal location.

With an annual budget of $25,000, the Eli Home depends almost entirely on donations and grants.

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