Threatening phone calls and picketing neighbors railing against proposed plans for a rental home in the Lakes community catering to single, sober Christian women has forced one Discovery Bay woman to abandon her hopes of offering outreach to those in need.
Terry Ketchel, a home-owner in the nearby Lakeshore development, came under fire from angry residents this month after circulating a brochure offering rental opportunities to single, sober Christian women in Discovery Bay under the name House of Miracles.
A number of homeowners who saw the brochure believed the House of Miracles to be a substance abuse treatment facility, and expressed concern over whether the operation of such a facility fell within the gated community's homeowner's association guidelines. No counselors, site managers or health care workers would have lived at the site, and some residents cited fears over depreciating property values and the possibility of crime in their neighborhoods should such a plan go through.
I guess it's true that no good deed goes unpunished, said Ketchel of the response from Lakes homeowners. My whole point was to take advantage of buying a home in a depressed market and rent it with strict guidelines. I was thinking I could attract upscale women who are sober. But someone in the community put the spin on it that it was a drug rehab facility and then this lynch-mob mentality kicked in. It all makes me very sad.
Ketchel says the original plan was to attract upscale, employed women who are sober, and provide them with an affordable about $700 per month place to live. The women would simply be tenants, not inmates, and thus there was no requirement for any sort of staff. Ketchel said she never made any plans for the rental property to be a treatment facility, but merely a supportive, loving environment for women who live biblically-based lives.
I guarantee you that my guidelines for renting to people are more stringent than most, said Ketchel, who lives in the nearby Lakeshore development and is a board member of the community's homeowner's association.
In recent weeks, Lakes homeowner Jen Fenetti has posted and circulated e-mails alerting residents to Ketchel's plans and has posted additional information on the Web about other clean-and-sober facilities. Dozens of residents joined e-mail and phone lists concerned about what they believed would be a threat to their neighborhood's safety.
No matter how you look at, this is a business, said Fenetti, citing California law that classifies homeowners who rent out their property as business owners. But if this is truly about trying to help people, then Discovery Bay is not the ideal location there are very few job opportunities or public transportation options out here.
Here we have paid a bunch of money to live in a gated community, and everyone feels this is a terrible situation, but that legally there is nothing we can do except put community pressure and media pressure on her and see if that helps. She's in direct violation of the CC&R's.
Ketchel says if anyone is violating the Lakes CC&R's, it's the residents who have stuffed local mailboxes with flyers decrying the House of Miracles.
But at least one Lakes homeowner has stepped up to offer support to Ketchel. I have no issue with this use in our neighborhood and I'll be the first among many to welcome them with open arms, said Martin Conley in a circulated e-mail earlier this week. The unwarranted complaints of a small number of vocal NIMBYs should not persuade you to ignore the good being served by Mrs. Ketchel's plan. NIMBY attitudes serve no function when it comes to helping others in need.
I have no plans to move forward, Ketchel said. If people knew me, they would know that I am not going to dump garbage in their neighborhoods But people also need to remember that we all come from somewhere, and if you haven't had those experiences yet, then put on your seatbelts, because it's coming. It's too bad; what was meant for good has turned sour.