Oakmont Senior Living drops plan to build Santa Rosa elder care home

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Oakmont Senior Living has withdrawn its plan for the company’s fifth senior care center in Fountaingrove, as City Council was considering final approval of the project, a Santa Rosa city planner said.

Emerald Isle, which would have housed up to 70 seniors in a 49-unit project, was awaiting council action on an appeal of the Design Review Board’s March approval. The Emerald Isle appeal will no longer go before the council and no other action will be taken until Oakmont either renews its application or submits a revised plan, said Patrick Streeter, a senior planner.

Two daughters of an 85-year-old woman who resided at another Oakmont care home that burned to the ground during the October 2017 wildfires had lodged the appeal, alleging the design board’s approval of Emerald Isle was “fatally flawed” and incorrectly concluded it would not adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of the community.

An Oakmont spokeswoman did not respond Monday to a reporter’s telephone and email requests for comment.

Alice Eurotas, 85, said Monday she and her daughters would challenge any renewed effort by Oakmont to get approval from Santa Rosa officials to build Emerald Isle. She said it was “wonderful” Oakmont withdrew its development plan.

Oakmont Senior Living, meanwhile, is appealing a move by state regulators earlier this month to revoke the company’s licenses for Villa Capri and Varenna, two care homes in Santa Rosa where investigators say nearly 100 elderly residents were stranded by staff members during last year’s fire. Oakmont officials have said those allegations are unfounded and unsubstantiated.

Eurotas, and one of her daughters, Beth, also were among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that sought damages from Oakmont, alleging some residents — including her mother — were abandoned the night of the evacuation from Villa Capri the Tubbs fire burned. A tentative settlement was announced by attorneys in August but the terms were not disclosed.

“I was not evacuated,” the elder Eurotas said Monday, adding that a son of another resident pounded on her door to wake her up and alert her to the fire. “I was left there sleeping while the building was on fire.”

Windsor-based Oakmont, founded by longtime Sonoma County developer Bill Gallaher in 1997, operates more than 20 elder care facilities in California, including four in Fountaingrove before the Tubbs fire.

The company is rebuilding Villa Capri, home to about 70 people. The other three — Varenna at Fountaingrove, Fountaingrove Lodge and The Terraces — have about 360 residents.

Regarding the Emerald Isle proposal, two city boards that reviewed the Emerald Isle project found it met existing city codes.

The planning commission determined there was not an “overconcentration” of senior facilities in Fountaingrove. The project is located in a high fire hazard zone, but a fire official said Emerald Isle’s plans met the city’s heightened requirements for building safely in these areas.

Planning commission approvals last November for Emerald Isle are still valid, but are contingent on approval of the design, senior planner Streeter said.

If the plan is changed, the project would go back through planning commission and design review evaluation and neighborhood meetings, he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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