By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
A proposed eldercare and dementia facility in The Highlands has inspired mixed responses from nearby residents, with some neighbors welcoming the project while others fiercely oppose it.
If approved by the city, the development would bring a four-story, 65,000-square-foot assisted-living facility to the vacant lot at 1525 Palisades Drive, near the base of the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail.
A group of Highlands homeowners have assembled under the name “Highlanders United for Good” to spread literature and organize meetings condemning the project.
Organizer Marc Jackson contacted the Palisadian-Post last week to share the group’s chief concerns with a facility that they deem “a grave threat to [the] neighborhood.”
HUG believes the project “would add an enormous volume to the heavy traffic on Palisades Drive and Vereda de la Montura” and that the facility “would be an eyesore dwarfing the adjacent condominiums” at its height of 45 feet.
They also argue that it is poorly situated, because the hilly, park-adjacent facility could make it difficult to evacuate immobile seniors in emergencies, and because construction could block views and create “jarring disharmony” with nearby wilderness areas.
But other Palisadians view the project through a very different lens.
“I challenge anybody to come up with a project that would [create] less traffic or noise,” said Paul Glasgall, a Realtor and former member of both the Pacific Palisades Community Council and Highlands Presidents council.
Glasgall believes that other commercial projects, like restaurants or grocery stores, would be more disruptive.
Some residents have voiced similar views online.
Rony Shram, the Brentwood-based developer behind the proposed facility, told the Post he’s been listening to both sides.
Shram first acquired the Palisades Drive property four years ago, and spent about two years seeking community approval for a zoning change that would allow him to build condos in the space.
After that effort failed, he started exploring other options, landing on a senior care facility after speaking with experts who believed the lot was well-suited for such a project.
Shram said The Highlands is an ideal location because it provides an “easier, more homey” transition for seniors to move into a facility in a residential area as opposed to one “plopped on a major thoroughfare.”
He also cited a shortage of assisted-living homes specifically on the Westside as an inspiration to build the project.
Shram said that analysis from city officials should ease neighbor’s safety and traffic concerns.
In meetings with LAFD, he said the building was deemed safe for emergency response and evacuation.
He also shared a Department of Transportation assessment on the traffic loads for his facility—made up primarily of resident shuttles, staff, visitors and deliveries—which estimated peak morning and evening activity as far lower than that of apartment complexes, office buildings and shopping centers.
(For example, the study projects a senior care facility to generate about one-third the amount of morning traffic as an apartment complex).
Shram added that the project’s design makes heavy use of wood and glass to “pay homage to its surroundings” and “blend into the mountainside.”
Still, he acknowledged that a new, four-story building would inevitably impact the neighborhood—traffic, views and otherwise—more than nothing at all, which is the lot’s current state.
Whether residents fight those changes tooth and nail, or determine that the facility is a lesser of development evils, remains to be seen.
LA’s Department of City Planning will hold a public hearing on the project downtown at 200 North Spring Street at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 4.
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