Despite opposition from residents, the Regional Planning Commission on Wednesday approved plans for the Union Rescue Mission to begin transferring about 225 homeless women and children from Skid Row to a center in Sylmar. The commission voted 4-0 to approve the conditional use permit for the 78-acre Hope Gardens transitional housing facility, previously known as the Foresters Haven retirement home. Commissioner Pat Modugno, appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, abstained from voting, saying he had a potential conflict of interest because he works for the Hilton Foundation, which makes contributions to organizations like the mission. “We are looking at the victims of society’s neglect and this is a way to give them a second chance,” Commissioner Wayne Rew said. Mission President Andy Bales said he was relieved by the commission’s vote, noting that delays have cost the mission about $1.5 million in funds that could have been spent to help the homeless. “It doesn’t mean we’re all the way there, but it’s a great step,” Bales said. Shadow Hills attorney Maria J. Mejia, who is representing residents opposed to the facility, declined to comment on whether residents would appeal the commission’s vote to the Board of Supervisors. The plan has generated considerable opposition from residents of Kagel Canyon and other parts of the northeast San Fernando Valley. Residents said they feared that children might go into the nearby woods to smoke, which could start a fire in an area that hasn’t burned since 1975. Residents also said they were worried about falling property values and whether the homeless women – many of whom are victims of domestic abuse and have substance-abuse problems – would attract drug dealers and criminals to the area. “If there is a fire in that area, there are only two access points for 1,000 people,” Mejia said. “There is a difference between the 25 senior women who are there now and the 225 women and children you plan to bring up there. That needs to be reviewed. But that has not been done with the shortcut of a categorical exemption.” Late last year, county officials waived a potentially lengthy environmental review for the facility, exempting the mission from the process because the facility will be used in a way that is similar to its previous use. In response to residents’ concerns, Kim Szalay, senior regional planning assistant for the Department of Regional Planning, said the county is requiring the mission to abide by a draft residential-care program that among other things requires it to hire security guards. Supporters of the project said it will provide some of the 1,600 homeless women and children on Skid Row a safer home. [email protected] (213) 974-8985 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!