Community upset after hotels for homeless open near schools in Woodland Hills

Two hotels in Woodland Hills - both near schools - are being refurbished for homeless housing.

"We never got a chance to offer input, let alone say if it was okay," said the president of the Woodland Hills Homeowner Association, John Walker.

One is located right across the street from Taft High School, and the other is less than 50 yards from the Temple Kol Tikvah Preschool.

An Extended Stay America has been purchased by the City of Los Angeles and will be turned over, according to Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, to Volunteers for America to House Seniors.

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Next door, the 818 Hotel was purchased with state funds by Los Angeles County and is being turned over to Hope of the Valley, which is planning to house families. 

"It’s an ideal location" said Hope of the Valley President Rowan Vansleeve. "The children in these families can now go to school nearby."

Vansleeve said he understands the community’s concern and believes it will diminish once families move in, and area residents "don’t even notice they are there" as he says happened in similar facilities they have set up around the San Fernando Valley.

"This is being expedited, and is too fast and furious," Walker countered, saying businesses on Ventura Boulevard, where the hotels are located, are also concerned. 

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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has made getting people off the streets a priority, and her emergency declaration does allow for expediting permits, as the city purchases properties to turn into housing for people living on the streets. 

That doesn’t necessarily sit well with the homeowner who has to go through city permitting processes to build a garage, or businesses that need to meet certain criteria if they are near schools. 

At the same time, as one area resident put it, while many of those homeless may not accept the help, for those who want to turn their lives around, this kind of opportunity could be life changing and in the long run, help the community as a whole.

Both facilities are set to be ready by the spring of next year. 

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"It’s a done deal, like it or not," said Walker, adding that all they can do is to be on top of the projects to make sure they are safe for the community and those living in them. 

He did, however, add a warning to other Los Angeles communities.

"Pay attention, this is coming your way, with our without your knowledge or consent."