Granny Bird Award: NIMBY-ists
This edition of the Granny Bird Award, given from time to time to those who go out of their way to harm the rights of elders, goes to a neighborhood near Hollywood, California, who decided they did not want a board-and-care facility for elders with dementia in their midst because it might depress property values..
On a stretch of leafy Sierra Bonita Avenue near Hollywood, an operator of board-and-care facilities wants to tear down a duplex and construct an 11-bed facility for elderly residents suffering from dementia. In theory, that's fine: According to state law, a city cannot prohibit licensed care facilities that meet the zoning requirements. But in this area, zoning regulations permit single-family homes and duplexes, and the state defines a family as consisting of any number of related members or up to six unrelated people. Because Raya's Paradise, the operator of the facility, wants to go over the six-bed limit, it applied for a zoning variance.
Neighbors weren't pleased. Some complained that 24 facilities for the elderly are already located within a mile of this project. Care facilities mean multiple cars of staff and visitors, parking problems, more trash and — some say — lower property values.
...a city zoning administrator denied the variance, saying it would set a precedent that could start an erosion of "the low-density character and appearance of the area." Gamburd tried again under a different city ordinance and was again denied. His appeal of that ruling is scheduled to be heard Tuesday. [Emphasis added.]
If Gamburd loses that appeal, he still has one more option: he can build a duplex (two units) which will satisfy the ordinance. It will be more expensive for him, and thus for his residents, but it will have to be tolerated.
It pleases me that the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times has taken up this issue, and I especially liked its conclusion:
This page is generally not sympathetic to NIMBY arguments, and it is particularly troubling that people would disdain living near elderly people in group homes. We all get old — if we're lucky. We should not flinch from sharing with aging neighbors the communities that they helped build. [Emphasis added.]