Sober house to stay open

Daily Pilot

A drug and alcohol recovery home on the Balboa Peninsula that was scheduled to shut its doors in September has been given permission to stay at its location if it reduces the number of residents.

In a public hearing Friday afternoon in the Newport Beach City Council Chambers, operator of Balboa Recovery, Inc., Kevin Cullen told independent hearing officer Judy Sherman, who is not directly affiliated with the city and was brought in for the hearing, that the rent for the Balboa Recovery, Inc. home at 124 30th St. had been reduced.

During the brief hearing, Cullen explained that when he applied last year for permission to operate the home, rent was more expensive and he could not keep the home solvent with fewer than 10 female residents. In that May 2009 hearing, the city rejected his application to run the home at that address and told him he had one year to find a new location for his business.

Zoning in that part of the peninsula prohibits recovery homes.

In the year since, the rent has dropped and now there are only eight female residents, with two of them expected to leave by the end of the summer, Cullen told Sherman. He assured her that once there are only six residents, he would not add any more.

A similar condition was placed on the much-larger Morningside Recovery homes through the city. The Newport Beach Planning Commission last week recommended that the city approve an agreement with the group of recovery homes that limits it to 36 beds, or residents, per home.

Sherman amended the city's agreement with Balboa Recovery and gave city officials the ability to check the home annually to make sure it's following resident regulations, then granted the application. Cullen assured the public that he would fix any problems with the house if neighbors complained and now has permission to keep his location on 30th Street.

Sober living and recovery homes have been a hot-button issue in years past. Residents have blamed the homes for a slew of problems, including noise and crime. City staff Friday found that the Balboa Recovery home, given its limited size and location, would not have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

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