Costa Mesa council to review appeals for sober-living permits

After hitting a roadblock at the Planning Commission level, a sober-living operator is turning to the Costa Mesa City Council in its quest for the permits necessary to keep three of its facilities open.

SoCal Recovery is asking the council to approve permits for its sober-living homes serving up to six men each at 783 Hudson Ave. and 208 Cecil Place and for another facility with as many as 32 residents in six units at 175 E. 21st St.

Such permits are required under city ordinances adopted in 2014 and 2015. Costa Mesa also requires sober-living homes — which typically house adults recovering from alcohol and drug addiction — to be at least 650 feet from one another and from other group homes or licensed alcohol- and drug-treatment facilities in residential areas.

That’s the rub for each of the facilities up for review during Tuesday’s council meeting. All three run afoul of the distance requirement, according to city staff.

During a Planning Commission hearing on the permit applications in October, representatives of SoCal Recovery objected to the way Costa Mesa applies the 650-foot rule.

They said the requirement should be based on walking distance, rather than a bird’s-eye measurement. Using that alternate method, they added, would resolve the distance issues identified by staff.

That argument didn’t fly with the commission, which denied all three permits. City staff is recommending the council do likewise.

In his appeals to the council, Kenneth Norwood of SoCal Recovery characterized the city’s distance requirement for sober-living homes as arbitrary and restrictive and alleged it violates the federal Fair Housing Act.

City officials, however, have said the rule is meant to keep such facilities from congregating too close together in local neighborhoods.

As the number of sober-living homes in Costa Mesa has gone up in recent years, residents have increasingly complained that the facilities create problems with noise, litter, crime, secondhand cigarette smoke and other quality-of-life issues.

Operators and supporters, however, say the homes provide a much-needed service for recovering addicts and strive to be good neighbors.

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

The agenda also includes several items held over from earlier council meetings:

  • A discussion about noise issues stemming from John Wayne and Long Beach airports.
  • A proposed partnership with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District for a pilot program to provide mobile restrooms to serve the local homeless population.
  • A discussion of whether the city should resume recording and broadcasting council candidate forums.

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