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Costa Mesa council to discuss mobile restrooms and take up sober-living appeal

Costa Mesa City Council members will discuss Tuesday whether to join with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District to establish a pilot program for mobile restrooms — similar to this one in San Francisco — to help serve the city’s homeless population.
(Courtesy of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District)

The Costa Mesa City Council will discuss Tuesday whether to partner with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District on a six-month pilot program to provide mobile restrooms to serve the local homeless population.

Councilman John Stephens is asking his colleagues to consider writing a $21,500 check to cover half of the estimated cost of the effort, which would entail placing restroom stalls on a trailer so they could be moved and stationed wherever they’re needed.

Sanitary district board members have already committed that amount, saying in a series of meetings throughout last year that they think the program would give homeless people a safe and hygienic place to relieve themselves and, hopefully, reduce instances of public urination and defecation.

Supporters of the mobile concept say being able to move the restrooms around would keep any one area from being disproportionately impacted. At the end of each day, the restrooms could be closed, hauled away, cleaned and restocked.


The program being pitched to the council entails having an on-site attendant to make sure the restrooms are kept clean and used as intended.

The hope is that person would help stave off drug use and other illegal activities that have been previously observed in public restrooms.

Those at Lions and Wilson parks, for instance, were closed in 2015, due to health and public safety concerns.

According to a staff report included in the council agenda, some nonprofit groups have preliminarily shown interest in monitoring the restrooms. If those potentials don’t come to fruition, it’s possible city or sanitary district staff would have to fill the role instead.


Sober-living appeal

In other business, council members will take up an appeal filed by a sober-living operator seeking required city permits.

Richard Perlin is asking the council to reverse the Planning Commission’s decision to deny his special use permit applications for two sober-living homes serving up to six men each at 647 and 653 Joann St.

Such permits are required under a city ordinance adopted in 2014. City rules also state that group homes, licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities and sober-living homes — which typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts — must be at least 650 feet from one another in residential areas.

When the Planning Commission rejected the permits in November 2016, there was a state-licensed drug- and alcohol-treatment facility located approximately 517 feet away at 670 Capital St. That facility has since closed, according to city staff, so the only separation issue now is how close Perlin’s homes are to each other.

Staff’s recommendation is for the council to issue a permit for one of the properties and reject the other. The council also could send the matter back to the Planning Commission for further review.

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

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