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More sober-living permit appeals await Costa Mesa council review

The steady stream of local sober-living home permit reviews is set to resume in Costa Mesa City Hall.

At their meeting Tuesday City Council members will decide whether to award the approvals necessary for two facilities — one with up to 10 residents at 268 Knox St. and the other housing as many as 22 people at 3016 and 3018 Jeffrey Drive — to remain open.

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RAW Recovery LLC has operated the properties as sober-living homes since 2015, according to a city staff report. Such facilities typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, who are considered disabled under state and federal laws.

Because of where they’re located and how many residents they have, Costa Mesa requires the operator to secure conditional use permits to keep those facilities open.

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The requests went first to the Planning Commission, which approved the permit for Knox Street — while suggesting capping its maximum number of residents at eight — but rejected the applications on Jeffrey Drive.

A majority of planning commissioners said they didn’t see a reason to deny the request on Knox, as they believed the facility complied with Costa Mesa's requirement that group homes, licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities and sober-living homes be at least 650 feet from one another in residential areas.

That conclusion was not without dispute, though, as there are two treatment facilities licensed by the state Department of Health Care Services less than 650 feet away at 236 and 240 Knox. According to Costa Mesa staff, those facilities do not have the required city permits.

“Code enforcement staff confirmed that both properties are vacant,” states a staff report included in Tuesday’s council agenda. “The operator has been notified that it cannot operate unless it obtains all required state and city approvals.”

Following the commission’s split decision to grant the permit, council members Katrina Foley and Jim Righeimer each asked to take another look.

In the case of Jeffrey Drive, RAW Recovery had to apply for separate permits for the two properties — as city codes state that sober-living homes may occupy only a single parcel. Because of that, either site would have created a separation issue with the other.

Planning commissioners in January unanimously denied the application for 3016 Jeffrey, but disagreed on whether to do the same for 3018. Eventually, most commissioners decided to deny that permit “based on negative impacts reported by adjacent residents,” according to a staff report.

RAW Recovery then appealed those decisions to the City Council.

Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

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