The Glendale chapter of the National Charity League sent an inquiry this week to the California attorney general's charitable trust division requesting an investigation into the sale of an assisted-living facility in La Crescenta that will displace about 50 seniors.
The nonprofit league, which ran Twelve Oaks Lodge before the current owner, contends that selling the 4.5-acre property violates the trust's original intent, so they are seeking the attorney general's help in clarifying the issue.
"There are some open questions," said Patricia Van Dyke, an attorney for Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a public-interest law firm that has an expertise in elder-care law. She has also given free legal advice to Twelve Oaks residents.
The current operator, called be.group, sent 60-day eviction notices about two weeks ago to seniors living at the facility at 2820 Sycamore Ave. The facility is set to close Nov. 1.
The seniors didn't receive any other warnings prior to the notices, which are required by state law. Many of the seniors have said they were caught off-guard by the impending closure. Some seniors have lived at Twelve Oaks for years, others mere months.
Dan Hutson, vice president of communications and marketing for be.group, said he could not comment on the inquiry because he had not seen it. Be.group, a nonprofit that formerly operated as Southern California Presbyterian Homes, owns 30 affordable housing and assisted-living facilities in the state.
Be.group is under contract to sell the property to an undisclosed buyer, who will likely convert the property into single-family homes.
Rose Chan, president of the Glendale chapter of the National Charity League, said her group has been discussing many options in the wake of the closure announcement.
"We've been so tied in with the home that we just feel like we have an obligation to look into it," she said, referring to the legality of the sale.
The league has hosted fundraisers for Twelve Oaks Lodge as well as puppy parties, brunches and Christmas events.
Lynda Gledhill, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said it is the agency's policy not to confirm whether it has received correspondence, but she said, in general, once an inquiry or complaint arrives in the office, it is assigned to a staffer to analyze the issue.
"We have to decide if there's an appropriate action," she said, adding that tight deadlines, such as the case for the seniors at Twelve Oaks Lodge, are also taken into account.
A philanthropist entrusted Twelve Oaks Lodge as an elder-care facility in the 1930s to the Verdugo Hills Sunshine Society, a charitable organization. In 1976, the Verdugo Hills Sunshine Society gave the trust to the National Charity League chapter. Roughly a decade ago, the National Charity League handed over control of the trust's board and the facility to be.group, but no money exchanged hands, Chan said.
"They were chosen because the board thought they could continue that trust," Chan said. "Always, always our intent was for this to be a home and not turned into private property."
Hutson has said operating Twelve Oaks Lodge has become too expensive and to make it pencil out, be.group would have to expand the facility, which isn't financially feasible.