Sober Living, city settle

Newport Beach officials expressed hope Saturday that a tentative agreement with Sober Living by the Sea, a company that operates a large number of drug and alcohol rehab homes across town, will ease residents’ concerns over the homes’ impact on their neighborhoods.

The tentative agreement mandates that Sober Living permanently limit its citywide bed count to 204, move a number of facilities to increase their distance from other rehab homes, maintain a 1,000-foot distance from elementary schools and day care centers and drop its lawsuit against a city ordinance limiting the spread of rehab homes.

City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner said the city had provided a copy of the agreement to Concerned Citizens of Newport Beach, a group that has sued the city and Sober Living over what it considers harmful effects of the rehab homes, but hadn’t gotten a response yet.

Still, she said, the settlement addressed the group’s major issues.

“We are pleased that Sober Living is willing to negotiate, and we do think this addresses the concerns of the citizens,” Gardner said.

Residents have complained repeatedly that the rehab homes increase crime and hurt property values in their neighborhoods.

Denys Oberman, the spokeswoman of Concerned Citizens, did not return calls seeking comment Saturday. Representatives for Sober Living by the Sea could not be reached.

The agreement names four facilities on the Balboa Peninsula — at 133 and 118 45th St. and 125 and 128 39th St. — that would have to move to fit the new requirements for distance between rehabilitation homes.

Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff said Sober Living by the Sea chose those four sites due to lease or licensing issues.

As part of the agreement, Sober Living would limit concentration of all types of recovery facilities — even state-licensed sites with six or fewer residents, which state law does not allow cities to regulate. Getting that concession from Sober Living by the Sea was a major breakthrough, Kiff said.

“To me, it was fairly groundbreaking to have that ability,” he said. “No city in California has that ability except us now, and it was entered into voluntarily.”

The Planning Commission and City Council must approve the agreement before the city can officially adopt it.

The city recently passed an ordinance, starting Feb. 20, which required most rehab homes to get use permits to remain open and go through a public hearing process to gain approval.

Sober Living by the Sea sued the city shortly after the ordinance took effect, saying the new measures discriminated against recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.

A United States District Court judge upheld most of the ordinance in May.

The Sober Living by the Sea homes at the following addresses must close or relocate if the tentative agreement with the city passes:

 125 39th St.

 128 39th St.

 118 45th St.

 133 45th St.

MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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