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Political Landscape: Rohrabacher introduces bill to allow cities to ban sober-living homes

Political Landscape: Rohrabacher introduces bill to allow cities to ban sober-living homes
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher speaks during a news conference at his home in Costa Mesa last month. (File Photo)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow cities to ban sober-living homes in residential neighborhoods.

House Resolution 5724 — the Restoring Community Oversight of Sober Living Homes Act of 2018 — would amend the Fair Housing Act to specify that nothing in federal law "prohibits any state or local government from implementing laws, regulations or ordinances that apply specifically to recovery facilities located in residentially zoned areas."

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If passed, the bill would allow "states and local governments to ban such facilities if voters favor their prohibition," according to a news release from Rohrabacher's office.

Sober-living homes typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, who are considered disabled under state and federal laws.

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"These so-called homes, which are businesses in all but name, house drug and alcohol addicts in single-family residences," Rohrabacher said in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. "This infusion of drug addicts and alcoholics into residential communities has had a deleterious impact on the quality of life of local families, who now suffer increases in police activity, transient residences next door and a decline in property values."

Costa Mesa residents have increasingly decried the local proliferation of sober-living homes, saying they can cause problems with crime, noise, litter, traffic, parking and other issues.

In a bid to keep such facilities from opening close together, the City Council adopted two ordinances in 2014 and 2015 that imposed new permitting requirements on sober-living homes and stipulated that they, group homes and licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities must be at least 650 feet from one another in residential areas.

Last year, council members approved additional rules aimed at increasing transparency and preventing those evicted or otherwise involuntarily discharged from group and sober-living homes from becoming homeless.

"We definitely need state and federal laws to change to reduce the negative impacts to our neighborhoods," Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor said of Rohrabacher's bill.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley, however, dismissed the bill as "dead on arrival" and said it "violates federal U.S. Supreme Court case law."

She said Rohrabacher should focus on reforms that would garner bipartisan support, such as "allowing local agencies to create caps on the number of facilities in a community, distancing or separation requirements between facilities and schools, and prohibition of trafficking of addicts, as well as the right for local governments to address the nuisance impacts of problematic operators."

"This is just politics as usual without any progress," she said. "We deserve better."

New candidate pulls papers for Costa Mesa City Council election

Rebecca Trahan — a former member of the Costa Mesa Finance and Pension Advisory Committee — is the latest person to announce plans to run for City Council this year.

Trahan has filed paperwork to run in Costa Mesa's District 5, which includes downtown and about half the Westside. In posts on social media, she said she's running "because I feel District 5 needs a voice and there are some things that need to be changed."

"I will officially announce my candidacy and plans for a better District 5 in the next few weeks," she continued in a Facebook post last week.

Trahan is the second declared candidate in the district so far, joining Parks and Recreation Commission Vice Chairwoman Arlis Reynolds.

November's election will be the first in which Costa Mesa council members are chosen by district. Residents in each district will elect one council member from that area to represent them.

Residents also will be able to vote directly for mayor.

Council seats also are available in District 3, which includes College Park, Mesa del Mar and a slice of the Eastside, and District 4 — a dense, jagged slice of the Westside south of the Fairview Developmental Center, ranging from Harbor Boulevard west to Monrovia Avenue and south to West 17th Street.

Orange County registrar seeks poll workers for June election

The Orange County registrar of voters office is seeking poll workers for the June 5 election.

Hundreds of workers are needed to staff the election as inspectors — who oversee operations at assigned polling places — or clerks, who assist the inspectors on Election Day.

Inspectors and clerks receive stipends of $160 and $120, respectively. Training is required for both positions.

Anyone who is registered to vote in California can volunteer in Orange County, according to the registrar. Those interested in signing up can call (714) 954-1901 or visit ocvote.com/volunteer.

UPDATES:

5:40 p.m.: This article was updated with Katrina Foley's comment about Rep. Rohrabacher's bill.

This article was originally published at 2:10 p.m.

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