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Neighbors question Alzheimer’s facility

As if two meetings and more than three hours wasn’t enough time to talk about an Alzheimer’s care facility proposed at 484 Prospect St., the developers were told last week to meet with neighbors again.

Several residents who live in an upscale luxury villa complex next door to the old Scripps Hospital turned out at two advisory board meetings to question the need for, and location of, the proposed residential facility. At issue, they said, were security, access and proximity to similar facilities.

“Many of the issues on the table deal with security and they need to be resolved as they involve managing a shared garage,” said Scott Benson, a 464 Prospect St. resident.

La Jolla architect James Alcorn presented his plans at the La Jolla Planned Development Ordinance Committee meeting on Nov. 9 and the Development Permit Review Committee on Nov. 10. The issue was also on the agenda for a second Development Permit Review meeting on Nov. 17, after the Light’s press time.

“The tar and feathers in the next room were cooking away, but in final analysis, some good things came out of that,” joked Alcorn about a preliminary meeting developers had with the neighbors.

He said developers are seeking a conditional use permit for the existing 15,000-square-foot, three-story building and a change in its zoning from residential use to an extended-care, state-licensed facility for the elderly needing memory care.

The architect noted the new facility could not be used for drug or alcohol rehabilitation and that, at most, it would house 56 residents.

“They have to be 60 or more and need memory care,” he said. “This would definitely not be a medical facility. If a client needs medical care, they would have to be transported somewhere else.”

Alcorn also said clients would not prepare their own meals and would eat together in a common dining room. The facility would be locked to prevent clients from leaving and visitors would be allowed access via a monitored entry-card system.

A major bone of contention at both meetings centered around the closeness of three similar senior-care facilities — Casa de Manana, White Sands and Chateau La Jolla Inn — to the 484 Prospect site, and whether that proximity violates a Land Development Code provision that “residential care facilities are not permitted within one-quarter mile of another residential care facility.”

Though those facilities are closer than one-quarter mile from the proposed site, Alcorn argued they do not qualify because two of the three are qualitatively different than the type of facility proposed at Prospect.

“Casa de Manana is not licensed for memory care, and Chateau La Jolla Inn is not a licensed residential care facility,” Alcorn said, noting the city has said an exemption to the one-quarter-mile rule could be obtained on that basis.

Jim Fitzgerald, a member of the Planned District Ordinance Committee, said he couldn’t support the 484 Prospect residential care facility because “a rule is a rule.”

“Even if you accept that there’s a need for more beds, the project clearly would violate the basic land use code for the city,” he said, adding he could only consider supporting it if “there were no other place where it could be located.”