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Neighbors complain about sober-living house

October 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
People in a Northridge neighborhood want some of their neighbors to go somewhere else. Those neighbors are residents at a local halfway house.

There is nothing on the books in Los Angeles to keep group-living homes out of your neighborhood.

One property in Northridge has two buildings that house up to 30 men who are recovering alcoholics or drug addicts.

Some neighbors are uncomfortable with the arrangement. Valerie and Randy Wolff have two small children.

"It's terrifying. It's absolutely terrifying, because there's 30 guys, and the only thing that separates us is a wooden fence," said Valerie Wolff. "There's nothing that stops them from jumping over while I'm playing in the back yard with my kids."

The Wolffs admit that there have been no physical or verbal threats from any of the residents. But there have been some incidents, such as a candle thrown over the fence, loud arguments, and cigarette smoking, which the Wolffs say really affects their lifestyle, especially in the summer."

Randy Wolff has several issues with the arrangement.

"The first is how many people they have living there and the lack of control. Or somebody watching them. Fights going on in the back yard. Thirty people smoking at the same time," said Randy Wolff.

Peter Shuster owns the halfway homes property. He says there is always somebody there. He understands why people might be worried, but thinks it's not justified.

"When there is a problem, we're here. If someone tells us something is going on, we'll deal with it. It's not like we don't care. We want the neighbors to be happy," said Shuster.

At least three of the neighbors besides the Wolffs are not happy. It disturbs them to see police cars and frequently ambulances in front of the halfway houses.

"If it was a house full of white recovering alcoholics and addicts, that the neighborhood would be a little more comfortable with it," said Shuster.

Mitch Englander is the city councilman representing the area and has co-authored an ordinance to regulate such places. He says they disrupt the communities and affect property values.

"It's been out of control. We have a proliferation of these all over the city of Los Angeles, and they're ruining communities," said Englander.

The ordinance would put restrictions on this facility and other halfway houses. It's before the city council. It could be voted on at any time in the near future.

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