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Huntington Beach mayor's town hall will discuss sober-living homes

Huntington Beach mayor's town hall will discuss sober-living homes
Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey will present a town hall meeting Thursday at City Hall to address sober-living homes. (File Photo)

Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey will hold a town hall meeting Thursday to discuss what local, county and state officials are doing to address sober-living homes, which critics contend have negative effects on residential communities.

The meeting will include presentations from U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), state Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach), Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

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In March, Rackauckas introduced a Sober Living Home Accountability Task Force composed of cities, law enforcement and other agencies. Two months later, Rohrabacher introduced House Resolution 5724, a bill that would allow cities to ban sober-living facilities in residential areas.

Sober-living homes typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, who are considered disabled under state and federal laws and must be provided with certain accommodations for housing.

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“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,” Rohrabacher said in May.

In Huntington Beach, city officials have said little can be done about sober-living dwellings with six or fewer residents that don’t offer treatment, are zoned residential and don’t require a license to operate. Those are classified as “regular households.”

“It’s six people living as a family unit,” Posey said in an interview. “Our hands are tied based on fair-housing practices. We get constituents saying ‘Do something, do something.’ We want to do something as long as we can defend ourselves in court.”

City officials have kept a close eye on cities such as Costa Mesa that also are trying to address the issue but have met with legal challenges.

On Monday, the Huntington Beach City Council gave Gates the green light to partner with Rackauckas to craft a plan to clamp down on illegal in-home businesses in residential areas. Illegal sober-living homes would fall under that, but facilities with six or fewer residents would not.

It is unclear how many unregulated sober-living homes are operating in Huntington Beach, but 45 licensed or certified recovery or treatment facilities are listed in the city by the state Department of Health Care Services.

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 5 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall, 2000 Main St.

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