April 20, 2024 5:02 pm

Court Allows Lawsuit Against Glendale Over Rockhaven Sanitarium to Proceed

A judge ruled on Thursday that a nonprofit preservation group accusing the city of Glendale of neglecting the Rockhaven Sanitarium property can proceed with its lawsuit against the city.

The Friends of Rockhaven allege that Glendale failed to maintain and preserve the historic property, which was once known as the Rockhaven Sanitarium and is now designated as the Rockhaven Sanitarium Historic District, according to a petition filed last April 10.

In September, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff considered a previous motion by the city to dismiss the petition. While he found some issues with the petition, he also acknowledged the city’s actions in maintaining and protecting the sanitarium, including significant spending on the facility in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, totaling nearly $1 million.

Despite the city’s efforts, the Friends of Rockhaven argue that the alleged delayed maintenance has increased the cost of repairs needed for Rockhaven’s rehabilitation, resulting in harm to the public funds.

The preservation group seeks a court order directing the city to address various issues with the property, including repairing the roof, exterior drainage, rain gutters, and addressing mold, asbestos, and lead contamination.

Lawyers for the Glendale City Attorney’s Office deny the allegations made by the preservation group, arguing that the city has voluntarily committed to rehabilitating and preserving Rockhaven.

Rockhaven has a rich history, founded in 1923 by psychiatric nurse Agnes Richards as a women’s-only facility for mentally ill women. Over the years, it became known for its humane treatment of patients, offering an alternative to the harsh conditions of many mental asylums at the time.

Despite its historic significance, Rockhaven faced the threat of demolition in 2006 when private developers planned to build condominiums on the site. However, the Friends of Rockhaven intervened, leading to the city’s purchase of the property in April 2008.

Since then, the petition alleges that the city has neglected Rockhaven, allowing it to deteriorate despite its historic and cultural value. Concerns have been raised about water leaks, mold, and other hazards damaging the property, jeopardizing its preservation.

In 2016, the California State Historical Resources Commission and the National Register of Historic Places recognized the significance of Rockhaven, further highlighting the importance of preserving this historic landmark.

The lawsuit reflects ongoing efforts by preservationists to ensure the protection and restoration of Rockhaven, a cherished piece of Glendale’s history.