Residential Care Facilities FAQs

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The City of Palos Verdes Estates is dedicated to maintaining the qualities and character of the community and our neighborhoods.  The City is also committed to serving residents and the public consistent with the laws and policies that are in place to sustain the environment that makes Palos Verdes Estates special.

The City of Palos Verdes Estates has been advised that a drug and alcohol treatment facility serving six (6) residents may be established in the lower Malaga Cove area sometime in 2018.  State law requires that residential care facilities that serve six (6) or fewer residents be considered a residential property and be treated the same as a single-family home.  As such, the proposed drug and alcohol treatment cannot be subject to any special permit requirements from the City.

When Residential Care Facilities are located within residential neighborhoods, the City knows there will be concerns raised by residents.  The City must balance these concerns with the laws that govern our ability to preserve our community’s high quality standards.  As such, the City will continue to make regulatory decisions regarding these facilities with the same detailed focus and care that is taken with other land use decisions.  Further, the City will continue to provide guidance to Residential Care Facilities seeking to operate in our community.

The City has prepared the following information to share with the community to help clarify how federal and state laws impact local government’s land use practices related to residential care facilities.  Please call the City at 310.378.0383 and ask for the Planning Department if you have any questions.  While we are currently and actively working to address resident’s concerns about a drug and alcohol treatment facility, we welcome questions to clarify what is within the City’s authority.  

For reference, the most relevant laws are the following.  

Federal
Fair Housing Act
Americans with Disabilities Act

State
The California Fair Employments and Housing Act 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES AND SUPPORTIVE HOUSING

  1.  Palos Verdes Estates Municipal Code Definitions
  2.  Are Residential Care Facilities providing supportive housing permitted in Palos Verdes Estates?
  3.  Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice
  4.  What are some things unlawful under the Fair Housing Act?
  5.  Does a state or local government violate the Fair Housing Act if it considers the fears or prejudices of community members when enacting or applying its zoning or land use laws respecting housing?
  6.  Can the City require Residential Care Facilities to apply for permits?
  7.  Are Residential Care Facilities found in other cities?
  8.  How are other cities responding to these facilities?
  9.  Who is responsible for issuing licenses to Residential Care Facilities?
  10. How do I know if there are group homes or residential care facilities in my neighborhood?

 

 1) Palos Verdes Estates Municipal Code Definitions

The City utilizes definitions that are consistent with state and federal laws as follows:

• Supportive housing.
“Supportive housing” means housing with no limit on length of stay, that is occupied by the target population, and that is linked to an on-site or off-site service that assists the supportive housing resident in retaining the housing, improving his or her health status, and maximizing his or her ability to live and, when possible, work in the community. Supportive housing is a residential use of property that is permitted subject to the same standards and procedures as apply to other residential uses of the same type in the same zone. (Ord. 709 § 1, 2014

• Residential care facility, small
“Residential care facility, small” means any family home or group care facility serving six or fewer persons in need of personal services, supervision or assistance essential for sustaining the activities of daily living or for the protection of the individual, excluding jails or other detention facilities. (Ord. 709 § 1, 2014)

• Residential care facility, large
“Residential care facility, large” means any family home or group care facility serving seven or more persons in need of personal services, supervision or assistance essential for sustaining the activities of daily living or for the protection of the individual, excluding jails or other detention facilities. (Ord. 709 § 1, 2014)

2) Are Residential Care Facilities providing supportive housing permitted in Palos Verdes Estates?

Small Residential Care Facilities serving six or fewer persons are permitted in the R1 and R-M zones. Large Residential Care Facilities serving seven or more persons require a conditional use permit in the R1, R-M and C zones. See Palos Verdes Estates Municipal Code Sections 18.04.010, 18.08.010 and 18.12.101 for uses permitted.

3) Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice: Who qualifies as a person with a disability under the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits a broad range of practices that discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. The Act does not pre-empt local zoning laws. However, the Act applies to municipalities and other local government entities and prohibits them from making zoning or land use decisions or implementing land use policies that exclude or otherwise discriminate against protected persons, including individuals with disabilities.
The Fair Housing Act defines a person with a disability to include
(1) individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
(2) individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment; and
(3) individuals with a record of such an impairment.
The term “physical or mental impairment” includes, but is not limited to, diseases and conditions such as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV infection, developmental disabilities, mental illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance), and alcoholism.

4) What are some things unlawful under the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful --
• To utilize land use policies or actions that treat groups of persons with disabilities less favorably than groups of non-disabled persons. An example would be an ordinance prohibiting housing for persons with disabilities or a specific type of disability, such as mental illness, from locating in a particular area, while allowing other groups of unrelated individuals to live together in that area.
• To take action against, or deny a permit, for a home because of the disability of individuals who live or would live there. An example would be denying a building permit for a home because it was intended to provide housing for persons with mental retardation.
• To refuse to make reasonable accommodations in land use and zoning policies and procedures where such accommodations may be necessary to afford persons or groups of persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing.

5) Does a state or local government violate the Fair Housing Act if it considers the fears or prejudices of community members when enacting or applying its zoning or land use laws respecting housing?

When enacting or applying zoning or land use laws, state and local governments may not act because of the fears, prejudices, stereotypes, or unsubstantiated assumptions that community members may have about current or prospective residents because of the residents’ protected characteristics. Doing so violates the Act, even if the officials themselves do not personally share such bias. For example, a city may not deny zoning approval for a low-income housing development that meets all zoning and land use requirements because the development may house residents of a particular protected class or classes whose presence, the community fears, will increase crime and lower property values in the surrounding neighborhood. Similarly, a local government may not block or deny a residential care facility in response to neighbors’ stereotypical fears or prejudices about persons with disabilities or a particular type of disability.

6) Can the City require Residential Care Facilities to apply for permits?

As with other cities in California, the City does maintain authority to adopt local land use and related regulations, such as zoning and permit requirements. Requirements that apply to single family homes will apply to small residential care facilities. Large residential care facilities (those with seven or more residents) are subject to local land use regulations and other restrictions such as conditional use permit requirements. The City may also impose notification and public hearing requirements only for large residential care facilities. Local government entities are required to make reasonable accommodations for programs serving individuals with disabilities. In some instances, accommodation may include exceptions to zoning ordinances for large facilities with seven or more residents.

7) Are Residential Care Facilities found in other cities?

Residential care facilities (group homes and treatment facilities) can be found in many cities and neighborhoods throughout the region including, Newport Beach, Laguna Hills, Malibu and Costa Mesa.  Like these cities, the City of Palos Verdes Estates desires to maintain local control over their location, however; in most aspects of regulation over them, cities have been pre-empted by the State.  Despite a long history of cities’ advocacy to preserve local control, especially the dedicated efforts of our city representatives, we must adhere to all state and federal laws governing land use, zoning and licensing.  

 
8) How do I know if there are group homes or residential care facilities in my neighborhood?

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) maintains a list of approved facilities: Department Of Health Care Service Facility Licensing

9) How are other cities responding to these facilities?

Residential Care Facilities in neighborhoods generate significant public interest, and many cities and the League of California Cities publish information to address frequently asked questions.  Please see Laguna Hills, Costa Mesa, and League of CA Cities - Western Cities Magazine.  

10) How do I know if there are group homes or residential care facilities in my neighborhood?

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) maintains a list of approved facilities: Department Of Health Care Service Facility Licensing