Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

All for it -- just not in their community

Tim Willert

In this tight-knit community of tree-lined streets and horse stables,

residents have grown uneasy at the sight of an unwelcome neighbor.

A six-bedroom residential-care facility for abused children is


going up at 753 S. Mariposa St., and neighbors say they are powerless

to do anything about it.

“We’re not against what this is for,” said Pamela Munson, who has

lived in the 700 block of Mariposa Street for the past 12 years.


“What we’re against is that we as taxpayers have no voice in how this

facility is run or structured.”

Under California law, community-care facilities that house six or

fewer people -- including drug- and alcohol- recovery homes and

child-care centers -- are licensed and regulated by the state and

exempt from local jurisdiction.

“As long as the facility meets state laws, there isn’t anything

the city can do to prevent them,” said Art Bashmakian, Burbank’s


assistant community development director. “Basically, [community-care

facilities] can’t be treated any different than single-family


Paula Kibby and her husband own nearby Riverside Cafe, and have

lived on Mariposa for two years. She said she didn’t learn about the

facility until workers started leveling the existing two-bedroom

house a few months ago.

“I think it’s going to compromise the property values and the


quality of living in this community,” she said. “I do believe there

is a need for facilities for kids, but I believe there is a different

way to go about it.”

The owners of what will be called Vagthois Residential Care Center

Inc., Narcisco S. and Anecia C. Seisa of Los Angeles, could not be

reached for comment Tuesday. They own four other community-care

centers -- three in Los Angeles and one at 418 Mariposa St. in

Burbank that serves mentally challenged children.

Munson and other residents, meanwhile, have enlisted the support

of the Burbank City Council and local legislators in hopes of

changing or amending existing state laws.

“I do understand both sides of the issue,” Councilwoman Marsha

Ramos said. “People in recovery have a right to live in a residential

neighborhood. But when the city has absolutely no say, you can turn

the nature of a single-family residential neighborhood into one that

is commercial, and that is just not right.”

In response to neighborhood concerns, Assemblyman Dario Frommer

(D-Burbank) has asked the state’s legislative counsel for a legal

opinion to find out whether legislation can be crafted to give local

governments discretion over the placement and density of such


“One of the reasons the laws were written this way was to stop

cities from locking out these types of facilities,” Frommer said

Tuesday. “What we’re trying to do is strike a balance.”

Jim Voohees has lived on Mariposa since 1962. He says that while

he is sympathetic to the needs of children, his neighborhood is

unique and he wants it to stay that way.

“There is a feeling that we haven’t got a voice in our own

government, which is not American in my opinion,” Voohees said.

“This idea of the state coming in and preempting the privilege of

the citizen to know what’s going on is almost discriminatory.”