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By Casey Christie / The Californian
BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Downtown residents concerned about noise and other quality of life issues will meet privately Thursday night with new neighbors who want to turn a single-family house into a home for people who are seriously disabled or have terminal or life-threatening illnesses.
Applicant Ayk Ayrapetyan of Property Ventures LLC, which runs two similar facilities in the San Fernando Valley, is asking the city to grant a conditional use permit allowing his company to operate a 12-bed congregate living health facility in a 2,640-square-foot house at 2525 18th St.
It would be called Bakersfield Living CLHF, and in addition to a CUP from the city Board of Zoning Adjustment, it would need state licensing to house people who may be seriously disabled, breathe with a ventilator or be seriously or terminally ill.
But Ayrapetyan and his architect, Bruce Keith, say this wouldn't be just another assisted living facility with ambulances screaming to and fro at all hours.
"What my client's doing is a home. Part of his thought is, there's a lot of people who have lived in their neighborhood, and their kids live in the neighborhood, and this will give them an opportunity to have another place to live in and still stay in the neighborhood," Keith said, adding, "I live here, and if he turns out being a crappy neighbor, people are going to look at me."
Neighbors got a one-month reprieve Dec. 10, when the zoning board continued discussion of the matter to Jan. 14 at Ayrapetyan's request. But they worry the former home of Bakersfield caterer and restaurateur Rick Mossman could become yet another halfway house, in one of the city's stateliest residential neighborhoods.
"Just within a half a block of this house, there's two halfway houses. They change a neighborhood dramatically and it's not good changes," said Dan Brown, Thursday's host, whose father purchased the family home in 1952.
Mike Ladd, a 20-year homeowner in the 2400 block of 18th Street, agreed.
"Supposedly there's not much we can do. Maybe we can get it back down to a six-bed," Ladd said. "It's just another one of these feel-good things that politicians are doing. They think they're doing good for the people who are going to live there and they're saving the taxpayers money, but they're ruining the neighborhood for other taxpayers."
Mossman, who still lives nearby, is unhappy, too.
"That's the first I ever heard of this," said Mossman, who was unaware of its new owner's plans. "It's our neighborhood, and I feel bad about this guy putting this in."
Ayrapetyan said his focus is on the growing field of assisted living, and he has no desire to run a halfway house.
"When we get our CUP, it's going to be only for the congregated home We cannot do anything else," said Ayrapetyan, pointing out that the house is the only residence on a block that also houses Franklin Elementary School and the Bakersfield Racquet Club. "Either we do the congregated home or we sell the facility. Nothing else. We cannot change it."
Bakersfield Principal Planner Paul Hellman said the zoning board could indeed make that requirement if it grants the permit, noting that neighbors' concerns could be resolved before next month's hearing.
"If it is approved, they could make it very, very specific," Hellman said. "The neighbors have a lot of input. They have a lot of influence to influence the outcome as far as what they think is appropriate in their neighborhood."