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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Volunteer Group Seeks to Halt Housing Closure

Less than two months after be.group announced it would close the Twelve Oaks Lodge in La Crescenta, the non-profit senior housing operator is facing litigation that may halt its plans. The Glendale chapter of the National Charity League, which transferred title of the facility to be.group about 10 years ago, has filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court to prevent be.group from closing the facility and selling off the land for development. Be.group, based in Glendale, announced a decision to close the 4.5 acre complex on Nov. 1 and had a buyer until the sale fell apart. The charity league, a Costa Mesa non-profit focused on volunteer opportunities for mothers and daughters, alleges that be.group is violating an agreement made during the transfer of ownership to maintain the property for assisted living. The league also alleges that be.group didn’t allow its members to serve on the lodge’s board of directors, as agreed upon in the transfer of ownership, which involved no exchange of money. “We believe that the property was set aside for charitable reasons and that should be honored,” said Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha, partner at the L.A. office of White & Case LLP of New York, who is representing the charity league. The suit demands that Twelve Oaks continues to operate as a senior home and for a receiver to take management control. It also seeks remuneration of legal costs and penalties. Twelve Oaks began operations in the 1930s and is not a single structure like many retirement communities. Instead, its 50 residents live in apartment-like cottages spread out along a plush hillside. This would be the first assisted living community closed by be.group, known as Southern California Presbyterian Homes until 2011. The group operates six continuing-care retirement communities, two smaller assisted living communities and 26 affordable housing communities, with two more in development. Dan Hutson, vice president of communications and marketing for be.group, would not comment on the litigation. But in an interview with the Business Journal in September, he said Twelve Oaks is losing money, something the charity league disputes. “Twelve Oaks is just functionally obsolete,” he said in the interview. “It has to be profitable because that then impacts services at other communities. We can’t afford to lose money in any community.” There is no hearing date scheduled. Aenlle-Rocha said be.group has until next month to respond to the complaint.

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