Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A is conducting a survey to determine the number of group homes in the area for mentally ill or retarded persons or troubled youths.

"We have more than our fair share of group homes," said Commissioner Harold Valentine. "We're not saying we will oppose every group home that comes down the pike."

ANC members' main complaint is that officials of D.C.'s Department of Human Services, which oversees development of most of the group homes, does not notify ANCs or neighborhood residents before establishing the homes.

"We want to be told about the group homes prior to their location," Valentine said. "All we want is some dialogue so the community won't be scared away by the process" of opening a group home. The ANC is particularly interested in homes housing troubled youngsters under the Persons in Need of Supervision program; former patients of St. Elizabeths Hospital; and former residents of Forest Haven, the District's home for mentally retarded persons in Laurel, Md.

City officials are under court order to remove 100 residents a year from Forest Haven and move them to group homes or other facilities.

ANC officials contend that companies specializing in setting up group homes under contract with the city look first at neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights because of the availability of large, inexpensive houses there, as well as of federal grants to renovate them.

But officials with the Department of Human Services say they work hard to scatter group homes throughout the city, including well-to-do parts of Northwest.