Has Mar Vista Become the Rehab Capital of Los Angeles?

Posted September 9, 2015 by The Argonaut in News

Angry homeowners say their neighborhood is being overrun by sober living homes

By Gary Walker

Worried about a perceived overabundance of sober living homes and other residential care facilities in their community, Mar Vista residents are voicing strenuous objection to the construction of a group home for patients of a treatment center for anxiety, depression and other psychological afflictions.

More than 100 people, some sitting on the floor or standing against the walls, packed into a classroom at Wildwood School on Aug. 18 to say in no uncertain terms that the incoming five-bedroom home on the 11900 block of Victoria Avenue (near Inglewood Boulevard) would not receive a warm welcome to the neighborhood.

A contingent of Mar Vista homeowners led by Mar Vista Community Council Land Use and Planning Committee co-chair Steve Wallace has become increasingly vocal about concerns that a proliferation of recovery-oriented living facilities could devalue single-family homes and exacerbate traffic and parking woes.

The majority of speakers at the LUPC-hosted meeting directed ire toward city planning officials and operators of the PCH (Psychological Care & Healing) Treatment Center on Venice Boulevard, about a block away from the Victoria Avenue group home currently under construction.

PCH Treatment Center co-founder Dr. Terry Krekorian spoke at length to repeatedly make clear that the Victoria Avenue residence and an existing backhouse would not function as a sober living home and would not house parolees or patients recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.

An email circulated prior to the meeting had erroneously asserted that PCH would operate a 32-bed addiction rehabilitation facility.

“There have been a lot of misconceptions about the Victoria home. I know that there are a lot of other drug and alcohol centers in the neighborhood, but I want to be clear that we are not that,” Krekorian said.

PCH Treatment Center works with people recovering from psychological or emotional trauma, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and severe anxiety. The home under construction on Victoria would house no more than 12 people at any given time, he said.

“All of the treatment is done at the clinic. We’re not doing any treatment in the house, so technically we’re just a community arrangement in a house,” Krekorian said.

The meeting was confrontational from the outset and remained so, however. Things got so heated that LUPC co-chair Mitchell Rishe had to call for order to keep people from shouting Krekorian down.

When Krekorian complained that someone had intentionally flattened the tires of an employee working at a Grand View Boulevard home operated by the treatment center, a woman in the crowd shouted “Then take the hint and go!”

It isn’t clear how many group homes, sober living or otherwise, operate in Mar Vista or how many people are living in them at any given time.

But there are quite a few, and many of them appear focused on substance abuse recovery — including at least two on Victoria Avenue. A four-bedroom sober living house for women opened up a few doors down in July, and a sober living house for men operates about three blocks down.

Four sober living homes share a common courtyard less than a mile to the south, which is also nearby a separate drug treatment center.

At least four more sober living houses — some as small as just six residents, others larger — operate in Mar Vista, as does a therapeutic community for female military veterans dealing with trauma-related issues that sometimes involve substance abuse.

Marilyn Rosen, a social worker and Mar Vista homeowner, said she supports outpatient care in neighborhoods —“It’s important that they be in a residential neighborhood; I applaud that and I think it’s necessary,” she said — but is concerned about the impacts of having so many within such a small footprint.

“What I do have is an objection to the density,” Rosen said. “What’s to stop every house on my street from turning into some kind of care facility? That’s what really bothers me. The whole community can be denuded of families if this continues.”

Mar Vista Billie Norris said her neighborhood is being overwhelmed by community care facilities.

“Obviously it’s a problem, ok? Not just in Mar Vista and Venice. Is the government going to let this keep happening? Are we all going to have neighbors like this for the rest of our lives? We fought hard to grow up and do well in a neighborhood,” she said.

Tom Rothman, a senior city planner, said Los Angeles has no limits on how many people can occupy a single-family home because the city has a very broad definition of what makes a family.

Tricia Keane, L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin’s land use and planning director, said there are laws regarding living arrangements that are outside the city’s control but influence its zoning and enforcement policies. Cities must take into account federal fair housing laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal court decisions that have struck down local attempts to regulate the number of people living together in a home.

“For any community care facility that is licensed by the state you have a variety of regulations that apply, and in many situations those uses are allowed whether or not the city has regulations that might prohibit them,” Keane said.



    M. Rivers

    I think we can learn something from San Pedro, where the number of addiction recovery centers is astounding. Out of 100 addicts, 85-90 will return to their drug of choice at least once. And where do they go? The streets of San Pedro. Mar Vista, where I reside, must limit the number of recovery centers to be a more reasonable, manageable burden on the community.

      J. Ball

      However, the home in question on Victoria is not a sober living home with recovering addicts. It is designed for people with depression, anxiety, OCD, and problems with daily living. These are not disruptive neighbors, and have every right to live in the neighborhood. In fact, it will probably be one of the quietest (and drug and alcohol free) houses in Mar Vista. It will be no burden on the community (and will probably not even be noticed once it is completed as there will be no increase in parked cars or traffic.


    There is another center here – take a look at that address, directly in the middle of a residential neighborhood in a rented house

    Sovereign Heal Addiction Treatment
    (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center Dba Sovereign Heal)
    12832 Short Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
    Cross Streets: Between Moore St and McConnell Blvd
    Neighborhoods: Del Rey
    (424) 289-9031

    Salie Rich

    Why do we as homeowners and stakeholders have to accept this? We accept this simply because all those that use them can use the ADA as a crutch instead of accepting their responsibilities of their choices. Everyone comes from somewhere if that somewhere is safe, why can’t they go back there? Why do hey have to come to my “hood”? In the case of those that have a worry of danger, perhaps a transition house is acceptable, but it should not be in a family neighborhood. These homes DO NOT take part in the dynamic of the neighborhoods.
    There is a recovery home across the street from me, one on the block in front of me and one 2 blocks behind me.
    Recovery in a family based neighborhood CAN NOT really change the minds or addictive tendencies of those living in these homes and puts all the rest of us in harms way.
    How will PCH or any one else ever guarantee that their patients won’t cause harm?


    The elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge is the staggering level of drug and alcohol problems in our society. It is prevalent in every community regardless if it’s a beach community or a valley community. Parents drink and use drugs (lots of prescriptions so that’s OK) , students are ripped on adderal and xanax, weed is everywhere especially in our high schools, and even in junior high the kids have access to it all. Communities need places for those afflicted with these problems to heal. The best place to do that is in a community (house) that does not allow alcohol and drugs. Those communities are increasingly harder to find.

    I have seen the story change in these neighborhoods when one of these families have a loved one (usually in their 20’s) struggling with a severe drug addiction. That’s when it’s OK to have these houses around.

    Rest assured, we currently have drug addicts and alcoholics living in our community. If we are concerned with the safety of our families,we should identify those houses that are currently engaged in the abuse of alcohol and drugs in our neighborhood. We could go door to door and ask them if they are engaged in unhealthy habits and take that poll to our neighborhood council meeting and ask them to close all the houses that are currently supporting this dangerous situation. We could monitor their comings and goings, if and where they drive (especially with children), and maybe set up cameras to get video evidence of the rampant disregard to public safety. Doesn’t this sound like a good idea? But wait, we can’t do that. People have the right to privacy and the right to live in their home the way they want to. And the funny thing about people’s rights is they apply to everyone. Even the sober people.

      Instead of demonizing people committed to developing healthy coping strategies, let's applaud it

      Spot ON Jeff ! I live across the street from a treatment center in mar vista and they have never caused any trouble whatsoever. As a homeowner in Mar Vista, I am embarrassed by the ignorant narrow minded selfish thinking that fears treatment centers and sober living homes. People who have have hit bottom and chose to pay a large premium to live in a professionally supported residence are living in what I would say , a place of Grace. They are aware of their issues and committed to developing healthy coping strategies. They are in a healing place of grace. I am grateful to have neighbors with this level of commitment to personal healing . As a parent, I trust that these individuals will model responsible adult behavior better than most families in our neighborhood.

      Is there any historical basis for the blatant prejudice at work here ? I have never heard of any problems arising from individuals residing in recovery homes.


    maybe they don’t take part in the dynamic of your neighborhood because you’re too busy slashing their tires

    Salie Right

    What people do in their own homes is their own business.
    These are public businesses purposely bringing their clients into our neighborhood.
    It isn’t OK!


    What I find aggravating about this article is the sensationalism. Yes, the meeting was heated. Yes, there were quite a few people who were very vocal about being against more “sober living” homes locating in Mar Vista. But, this article also emphasizes one particularly negative incident without acknowledging what happened AFTER that incident. One woman yelled out, “Then take a hint.” Yep, that really happened. But, NO mention is made about the equally loud response of “NO! You do NOT get to advocate violence. You do NOT get to do that, EVER! That is wrong.” How do I know about that response, you ask? Because I am the one who shouted NO! And, there was a supportive response to my NO from all the people around me. I was thanked by many people after the meeting for standing up to that woman.

    Mar Vistans are not as hateful as this article portrays us. For one thing, the PCH home was misrepresented to us as a “sober living” home (and we’ve been dealing with a lot of bad repercussions with many of those sober living homes…break ins, assaults, vandalism). We were told that there were to be 32 beds in one residential home. We were told that there not be enough parking designated for this home in an area of Mar Vista that is already suffering from lack of parking for residents. We were told many things that were not true….so….we went to the meeting, some to get more info, some to protest, some to stir up resentment.

    I, for one, was happy to learn that this was not to be a 32 bed facility, and that is was there to help people who had been the victims of terrible situations/abuse/etc. There were many people there just like me, with the same response. But, was any of that mentioned? No. Only the naysayers, the cruel, the heartless were highlighted. Only that which would create a sensational headline. Nothing was said about those of us who learned something positive about this facility and what it will offer to those who need it.

    I’m very disappointed in the Argonaut for publishing such a one-sided, sensationalised article as this. Very disappointed. I feel like we’ve been terribly misrepresented. There is nothing balanced about this article. It is a smear job.


      Thank you Meri for reporting that you and many others feelings shifted after some inaccurate information was clarified .

      When you say that “we’ve been dealing with a lot of bad repercussions with many of those sober living homes…break ins, assaults, vandalism” , are you sure that the people who committed these crimes were residing at these residences ? Were they convicted and charged ? Has someone kept track of crime that has been directly liked to sober homes or treatment centers ? I would be very curious to know.

      Although I own a home directly across from one, I have not experienced or heard of any break ins, assaults, or vandalism in the 7 years I’ve owned there.


    Our family is very grateful for the wonderful sober living homes that have helped my step daughter get her life back on track. Having these in neighborhoods where one can build a life is key to the success. She is now in Hancock Park where she can walk to work and to the program that she is attending to get certified to be a counselor. I’m committed to working on improving nuisance abatement options – whether it’s a church, school, park, family or group home. Thank you, Gary Walker, for your continued coverage of this complicated issue that is so divisive in our community.


    So what exactly are the complaints and the data to show the complaints have validity? Vague reports of possible increase of traffic and possible lack of parking doesn’t a crisis make. It sounds like the neighborhood is mad that un-wealthy people are DARING to bring the property values down below a million dollars per lot, not that there’s been real problems in the neighborhood with the people seeking treatment.

    Henry Borek

    I live across the street and they lie. Straight to my face. Too many variances and “technially”s being thrown around. Greed is going win. We’ve almost accepted this. Sad i know.

    Neighborhood watchdog

    I’ve watched three drug deals take place right across the street. Between a tree and house that has a high hedge. One of these happened at 4 o’clock in the morning. One of the couples that participates in these comes from the sober living house on Barrington. My neighbor and I have called the sheriffs department and the police but never in time for anybody to come and make an arrest. We confronted the guy waiting for his drop off just yesterday. Victoria has a lot of unsavory traffic people live it out of their cars., Folks coming in from the homeless encampment under the freeway to do their deals. Had we know that this was going to be another facility instead of another giant house of questionable architecture then we would’ve been right there long everybody else at that meeting raising hell.

    Lorie W.

    I lost my home on the 3700 block of S. Barrington Ave. in 2013. It was so painful because I grew up there. I miss my home so much. What I WON’T miss are all of the drug treatment centers on our one tiny block. There used to be an open field where the first drug treatment center ( Promises ) is now on the west side of the street. We used to set up forts and play there as children in the late sixties. It’s not like the people who run Promises are saints. They don’t take in drug addicts and alcoholics from the street to help them. You have to have a lot of money or really good insurance to benefit from a six week stay there. It’s all about the money. Richard Rouge was all about the money. I once wrote him a letter and asked him how many drug treatment centers were on HIS fancy street north of Montana in Santa Monica. No response. The two story Craftsman house that is now ALSO a drug treatment center. ( Across the street from the first Promises ) used to be a Unitarian church when I was a kid. If you own a house on the 3700 block of S. Barrington Ave., you better not own two cars. There is Never any parking available on the street. I can’t tell you how many times someone completely blocked my driveway with their car. I would march over to Promises and sure enough it was owned by someone going to a 12 step meeting there. Once it was actually the speaker of the meeting. He followed me out of the meeting and said, ” I didn’t do it on purpose.” REALLY- you’ve never parked on a residential street before? Another problem was trying to put your trash cans out on the street on Thursdays. People would just put them up on the sidewalk so they could park. One night I actually caught two people trying to do this with my trash cans. I was furious. All you have to do is go one block down on S. Barrington and the parking is wide open. I guess that walking an extra block is too much for the people at Promises. I would look out my window and there was always someone smoking a cigarette and talking on volume 10 on their cell phone on the corner of McCune and Barrington. Once there was a really pretty young girl that was getting out of her BMW. I was outside doing yard work. She parked in front of my neighbors house. She was so completely self obsessed, she didn’t realize that she parked on a residential street where families live. She was screaming the F bomb over and over into her cell phone. The 3700 block of S. Barrington IS NOT a parking lot for the Promises drug treatment centers. I’ve always said, we will take one on our tiny block. Whether it’s a drug treatment center, a sober living center, a rehabilitation center for female veterans or a place to treat people with depression and anxiety. Before I had to move, there were two drug treatment centers, A Veteran rehabilitation center and a sober living home. That’s FOUR business facilities on one tiny block. I’m sorry, who the mean one?


    This is absolutely destructive to neighborhoods. I have first hand proof. I actually used to live in Mar Vista, though moved to Topanga 10 years ago before these recovery centers started popping up. Well, while living in Topanga a teen drug rehab center moved in next door on our cul de sac of four homes out in the mountains. Everyone moves to Topanga to get away from noise, traffic, and crime of the city. This one rehab center brought in at least a dozen teens a day, 25 cars plus a day where there is no parking allowed on the tiny one lane private road to the homes. Many large delivery trucks coming and going at all hours day and night bashing in my fence. Police and ambulances coming and going almost daily. Loud screaming of kids detoxing all hours. Kids escaping the facility and stealing from neighbors including me. The director of the facility threatened me and had total disregard for any neighbors. It became so unbearable that I had to sell my home to get some sleep and peace. The real estate market was strong when I sold yet no one would even consider buying my totally remodeled home because of the rehab center next door. I ended up taking a half million dollar loss in order to sell my home. So yes! This is proof that these commercial rehab recovery centers destroy neighborhoods and devalue properties immensely. These centers need to be located in hospitals where patients can have better care and oversight.

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