Fountain Square West Requests Council to Put Kensington Project on November Ballot

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Posted 2/8/12 – Fountain Square West, LLC (FSW), developer of the proposed Kensington Assisted Living project at the site of the former Skilled Nursing Facility, has sent a letter to the City Council requesting that the Council pass a resolution that: “Following completion  of the review by the Planning  Commission, and approval  by the City Council, the KENSINGTON  ASSISTED LIVING Project be placed on the November 2012 ballot to be voted upon by the citizens of Sierra Madre.”

The letter, a copy of which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking on the image at the top left of this article, states that FSW is “pleased that our proposal to build a premier assisted living project in Sierra Madre on the site of the former skilled nursing facility is moving forward to the formal public review process,” and that “We welcome the Planning Commission’s open review process.”

FSW goes on to say they believe their project is good for Sierra Madre because it “will allow a growing number of frail and memory impaired seniors to remain in a neighborhood where they can be close to their family and loved ones,” and that they have “the experience and have demonstrated quality results in providing for residents’ care, comfort, security, and convenience in a first class physical setting.”

The Kensington project is on the agenda for the Feb. 16th Planning Commission meeting, to be held in City Hall at 7pm.  The letter from FSW discusses their belief that their project does not exceed the Measure V limit of 13 units per acre, because the units in their project do not have kitchens.  Some cities require a kitchen in order to have a unit be counted as a dwelling unit. City staff had presented a proposed clarification to the Commission on the Sierra Madre definition of a dwelling unit, which is “one or more rooms in a building designed and intended to be used as living quarters by one person or a family”.  However, the Commission did not recommend that the proposed clarification be approved by the City Council, declining to further define or clarify the definition.

In its letter, Kensington states that “Assisted  Living  Projects  such  as ours  do not fit the traditional  definition  of “dwelling units”   and   are  more  frequently   evaluated   in  California   (and   other   states)   as  an “institutional use”.  This is primarily because the building is licensed by California (and other states) as a health care facility (“Residential  Care for the Elderly” in California). In addition,  resident  suites  are  comfortably  configured  with  a  bedroom  and  a bathroom. There are  no kitchens,  cook tops,  or ovens  in the individual  suites as are traditionally found in a “dwelling  unit”. In addition to creating a safer environment, this Project will have a state-of-the-art  commercial kitchen from which all resident meals will be prepared and  catered.  Other  areas  typically  found  in a “dwelling  unit” such  as a dining  room, living room, TV or activity room, den, or other living spaces will be common areas and shared by all the residents.”

A Council member would have to agendize the item for a future meeting, which could be done as early as the next Council meeting, to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 14.  A resolution such as FSW proposes could then be discussed as early as Feb. 28th.