In this case, the zoning administrator for the City of Los Angeles approved a permit for an eldercare facility that exceeded the building square footage and number of guest rooms allowed under zoning regulations. Nearby residents challenged the facility arguing that the zoning administrator failed to make all of the necessary findings, including a finding of “unnecessary hardship.” The trial court found no substantial evidence supported the finding of “unnecessary hardship”, and the owners of the property, John C. and Thomas Simmers and the developer Community MultiHousing, Inc., appealed.
The zoning administrator further found that residential care facilities were becoming more popular. A Forbes magazine article indicated that eldercare facilities range from small homes with four to 10 beds to large institutions with over 100 beds, and the zoning administrator relied in part on data from the developer, explaining: “The applicant noted that the proportion of the population over the age of 75 is expected to double in the next 20 years generating a strong need and demand for eldercare facilities. Despite this, data was not submitted to substantiate this assertion, and there was no evidence of a demand either in the area adjacent to the eldercare facility or citywide for the eldercare services proposed by the project. In fact, Appellants stated that there were 20 facilities within a one-mile radius of proposed facility and that those facilities had vacancies.
Because the record contained no evidence that following the zoning regulations and building a less dense facility would cause either financial hardship or unnecessary hardship, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment requiring the City to rescind its approval of the proposed eldercare facility.
Walnut Acres Neighborhood Association v City of Los Angeles, 2015 WL 1730417 (CA App. 4/15/2015)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/summary/opinion/ca-court-of-appeal/2015/04/15/273304.html