Commentary: Residential areas were not built for sober-living facilities

The city of Costa Mesa appears to be heading in the wrong direction and does not appear to have any concern for the residents of this once-quiet community. It is time to support the rights of the residents and take back our community!

We all agree, based on discussions at meetings, that sober-living homes in the city of Costa Mesa have proliferated at an alarming and disproportionate rate compared with other Orange County cities. These facilities do nothing positive for our community, do not treat local residents and do not benefit the city in any way.

Meanwhile local commercial and retail businesses who do contribute goods, services and taxes to our city are required to operate in appropriately zoned areas. This seems like a rather short-sighted and passive approach to city planning. Are the lawyers more important than the longtime residents, businesses and homeowners in our city?

It is time to hit pause while we all examine the direction of our city's development, become more proactive and support the hard-working, local citizens and business owners in Costa Mesa. Until current and future legislation is further examined and adjusted, no further projects of this controversial and permanent nature should be approved. These facilities will forever change the character, feeling and value of our community.

Sober-living houses are really boarding houses and not single-family residences. The only thing they provide is a bed for the resident. No services are provided and each resident has a separate lease. The facility being discussed is not a group-living home where people who know each other have decided to live under one roof.

As a taxpayer and local citizen, I do not wish to endorse or invite the issues that accompany a boarding house into a residential neighborhood, such as noise, traffic, loitering, parking and transient residents to my once quiet, peaceful neighborhood. It does not matter who resides in these houses, therefore I am not being discriminatory. I just do not want boarding houses in a neighborhood that was planned as a residential neighborhood.

The residents in these particular facilities are drug addicts. The facilities have questionable success rate and no licensing. While the visiting "residents" are attempting recovery, they should be living in commercial and industrial areas or perhaps in a supervised healthcare facility, not in a residential neighborhood. There are two schools around the corner, and The Boys and Girls Club is down the street.

The Cape Series Community, where my condominium is, is literally across the street from a facility site. Our community has many elderly, taxpaying residents and is quiet and protected. In the past year we have seen people wandering the property, hanging out near our Dumpsters, using our property as a short-cut and for the first time have had reports of property vandalized and bikes stolen. The proposed facility would further jeopardize our quiet enjoyment of neighborhood and pose a potential threat to the safety of our residents.

Our neighborhood already has a lot of traffic/parking problems, and allowing this facility would worsen these issues due to the many additional cars used by the residents and their guests — many more than if a single family lived in the residence.

A recent article in the newspaper stated Costa Mesa already has too many of these types of facilities. It is time the city set some limits as to what ratio is acceptable and place all applications on hold until a fair ratio and zoning issues can be more clearly and legally specified. Recently Costa Mesa was successful in closing several facilities, and now it is considering adding more. This does not make sense.

This lucrative business does not contribute to our community in any way and, in fact, reduces our quality of life. It is a commercial operation and needs to be in a neighborhood zoned for business, not residences.

These facilities are well known to cause problems such as trespassing, parking issues, smoking, littering, noise and break-ins, just to name a few. Many of these facilities have been shown to not be good neighbors, and they may decrease property values.

We are a nice quiet community and should not have a facility like this in a residential area.

ADRIENNE RZEPNICK owns a condominium in Costa Mesa's Cape Series Community.

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