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Sober-living home operator to close 3 facilities in Costa Mesa as part of legal settlement

A sober-living home operator has agreed to close its remaining three facilities in Costa Mesa as part of a legal settlement with the city, officials announced Tuesday.

Morningside Recovery LLC’s decision to shutter the facilities at 1798 Pomona Ave., 2558 Orange Ave. and 2964 Peppertree Lane comes in response to a lawsuit the city of Costa Mesa filed Jan. 2 in Orange County Superior Court alleging that the homes were operating illegally.

All three properties are used as sober-living homes, which typically house recovering alcoholics and drug addicts and require a conditional use permit to operate.

However, the lawsuit alleged that permits had not been applied for and that the facilities should be forced to comply with local regulations or close.

Before filing the lawsuit, the city took code enforcement action against six of Morningside Recovery’s facilities in Costa Mesa. Three ultimately closed, but the properties on Orange Avenue, Peppertree Lane and Pomona Avenue stayed open, according to the city.

The closure of the remaining homes “is a great outcome for the residents of Costa Mesa,” Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor said in a statement Tuesday. “We are happy that the group home operator decided to work with us and settle this without significant court costs for either party.

“Hopefully, this sends a message to others that we will strictly enforce our city ordinances and ensure that our neighborhoods maintain a balance that is good for all residents.”

The sober-living homes on Peppertree Lane and Pomona Avenue will close immediately. The one on Orange Avenue will close by Aug. 31, according to the settlement agreement.

The people housed in the locations will be transitioned to other facilities or be sent home, according to city spokesman Tony Dodero.

Morningside Recovery also agreed to pay the city $20,000 in legal fees and enforcement costs.

Ron Talmo, an attorney representing Morningside, declined to comment Tuesday.

Costa Mesa officials and residents have long taken issue with the local proliferation of sober-living homes, saying they can harm the character of neighborhoods and lead to problems with traffic, parking, noise, litter and other issues.

Because recovering alcoholics and drug addicts are considered disabled under state and federal laws, the city is limited in the regulations it can impose on sober-living homes.

Costa Mesa does have rules requiring that group homes, licensed alcohol and drug treatment facilities and sober-living homes be at least 650 feet from one another in residential areas. Last year, the City Council adopted new regulations aimed at increasing transparency and preventing people who are evicted from such facilities from becoming homeless.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN


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