Homeless housing proposal sparks outcry from some Chatsworth residents

CHATSWORTH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A proposed six-story project for the homeless in the San Fernando Valley is drawing criticism among some Chatsworth residents.

The clash pits Chatsworth neighbors against the developer Affirmed Housing Group, which has been working with the city of Los Angeles to approve Topanga Apartments, a high-rise for 63 studio units on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

It also sets up a showdown between newly elected City Councilman John Lee and his fellow councilmembers.

Lee, who represents the 12th District, joins residents in opposing the project though it has support at City Hall.

"This particular space does not work," Lee said in an interview. "I am looking at other locations to make supportive housing work because I know we need to be part of the solution."

Topanga Apartments is the first project in Los Angeles to be greenlighted for funding with Measure HHH dollars.

Members of the Neighborhood Council have collected 2,600 signatures in opposition. A separate group says it has collected $170,000 to mount a legal challenge.

Among the complaints is that the six-story structure is out of scale for the foothill community where other buildings are no higher than four stories.

Another concern is the site's proximity to an elementary school.

"There are chronically homeless people that would be housed there, and addicted and mentally ill, and their behavior could be unpredictable," said resident Georgia Altmayer.

Homeless advocates say that the majority of the unhoused population are not mentally ill or drug users.

"It is about not being able to afford housing in Los Angeles. The only way to fix that is to bring in housing that people can afford," said Pete White with L.A.'s Community Action Network.

The group says they have identified more than two dozen sites that would be more suitable.

The Neighborhood Council says the developer is required to engage the community but has failed to appear at meetings.

"We are speaking for the community saying we don't want this at this site. How come he won't show up? Why won't he talk to us?" said resident Shannon Wetzel.

A community meeting is set for Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Lawrence Middle School.
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