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Costa Mesa reaches deal to close dozens of sober-living facilities

Solid Landings Behavioral Health, one of the biggest operators of sober-living homes in Costa Mesa, has agreed to shut down all of its live-in facilities in the city and end its legal fight to overturn an ordinance aimed at curbing the proliferation of such homes, officials said.

The company will immediately close 15 sober-living homes under what city officials called a "landmark" settlement agreement announced during Tuesday's City Council meeting. Eighteen other homes that Solid Landings operates will be closed over the next two to three years.

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The company has also agreed to drop its lawsuits against Costa Mesa. One filed last year in Orange County Superior Court challenged the city's denial for Solid Landings to host group counseling sessions in a local office building. The second, filed in federal court, alleged that a city ordinance approved in 2014 was discriminatory to recovering addicts. The ordinance attempted to curb the proliferation of sober-living homes in neighborhoods of single-family residences, among other regulations.

The planned closures will put a dent in the number of group and sober-living homes, as well as related treatment facilities, in Costa Mesa. As of January, city officials have estimated there are about 300 citywide.

"This is a major victory both for the residents of Costa Mesa and city officials who worked diligently on this issue for several years," Mayor Steve Mensinger said in a statement. "We have invested considerable resources in legal, law enforcement and code enforcement efforts to ensure a balance between our residents who deserve neighborhood peace and tranquillity and those who seek facilities to battle their addiction problems."

Solid Landings will continue operating two counseling facilities in town, but they will be relocated to commercial and industrial areas, said city spokesman Tony Dodero.

Costa Mesa officials and residents have in recent years raised concerns over the growing number of sober-living homes. Many have argued that the homes, which house recovering drug and/or alcohol addicts, have been disruptive to their neighborhoods, contributing to undue amounts of noise, parking problems and second-hand cigarette smoke, among other ill effects.

Reached for comment prior to Tuesday's council meeting, Solid Landings spokeswoman Jemellee Ambrose confirmed that the company was "in active discussions with the city," but wrote in an email that she could not comment on specifics.

Money writes for Times Community News.

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