Costa Mesa City Council to weigh changes for group homes and sober-living homes


Costa Mesa City Council members are slated Tuesday to discuss a slew of proposed changes to the city’s rules regarding group homes and sober-living facilities.

The staff-submitted revisions, which the Planning Commission reviewed last month, include proposals aimed at keeping former sober-living residents from becoming homeless.

Should the council sign off, operators would have to notify a person’s contact of record if he or she is evicted or otherwise involuntarily discharged from a group or sober-living home, which generally house recovering drug addicts and alcoholics who are considered disabled under state and federal law.


Operators also would have to contact the city’s Network for Homeless Solutions and the Orange County Health Care Agency’s OC Links Information and Referral Line to determine what services might be available and share that information.

Currently, the city requires operators of group homes in areas of multifamily residences to make transportation available so residents who are involuntarily removed can get back to their permanent addresses or the ones listed on their driver’s licenses.

Staff is recommending the council expand that so operators of group homes with six or fewer residents in single-family neighborhoods do the same.

In some cases, council members will have to choose whether to go with staff’s recommendations or follow Planning Commission advice.

For instance, commissioners recommended the council adopt rules prohibiting more than one probationer or parolee from living in a single sober-living home at one time.

Staff doesn’t support that, however, as “state law restricts where persons falling into these categories may reside” and “such a provision would likely be preempted by state law,” according to the agenda.

Planning commissioners also suggested the council require operators pay a transient occupancy tax — typically charged for motel or hotel rooms — on stays shorter than 30 days in group homes or licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities in residential areas.

Should council members wish to pursue that, staff recommends they “initiate an effort to impose this tax on all short-term rentals throughout the city,” the agenda states.

The Planning Commission also recommended maintaining existing city regulations dealing with how close sober-living facilities can be to one another in residential areas.

In 2014, the council adopted an ordinance requiring that sober-living homes with six or fewer occupants in single-family neighborhoods be at least 650 feet apart. The council created similar rules for such homes in multifamily areas the following year.

City officials say the goal of the distance requirement is to prevent sober-living facilities — which critics say can disrupt neighborhoods, increase crime and noise and contribute to parking and traffic problems — from clustering too close together in residential areas.

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

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