A nighttime meeting brought more than 20 neighbors face-to-face with the man who wants to turn a single-family house downtown into an assisted-living facility, but failed to convince them that it wouldn't increase noise and traffic.
At issue are plans from Ayk Ayrapetyan and Property Ventures LLC to turn a 2,640-square-foot house at 2525 18th St. into Bakersfield Living CLHF, a 12-bed home for the seriously disabled and people with terminal or life-threatening illnesses.
Ayrapetyan did not respond to requests for an interview Friday.
In a private meeting Thursday, he told area residents that his group's plans to expand the house at 18th and Pine streets by 620 square feet and provide 24-hour care to the seriously ill would not disrupt family life in one of Bakersfield's oldest residential neighborhoods.
Neighbors said Ayrapetyan and his architect, Bruce Keith -- whose site plans for the house plainly state, "this facility is not drug/alcohol re-hab or half way house" -- stayed more than an hour Thursday but failed to convince them the home was a good fit.
Keith said the evening offered a chance to explain the enterprise, but wasn't an overwhelming success.
"We were able to clarify to the neighborhood that we're not a halfway house, that it's a medical use. Patients there won't be out wandering the neighborhood," said Keith, whose client operates two similar facilities in Van Nuys and North Hollywood, admitting, "I think they're still apprehensive."
Dan Brown, who hosted the meeting at his house, said Ayrapetyan was "very nice, very accommodating," but unconvincing.
"He said there'd be no traffic. Twelve people, medical facilities, you've got staff, supplies, deliveries, pickups, you've got a lot of traffic at the end of the street," Brown said, noting that neighbors will meet again Jan. 9.
Bakersfield Principal Planner Paul Hellman attended the meeting and said he's unsure how many neighbors will oppose Ayrapetyan's request for a conditional use permit when the Board of Zoning Adjustment hears it Jan. 14.
"I don't expect it to be a very disruptive type of use, but somebody coming in to buy a house there would definitely notice it," Hellman said. "There's always the potential for appeal, whichever way the decision goes at the board level."