The commissioners listened to very detailed and eloquent remarks by concerned residents directly affected by the business. Chair Goldstein had anticipated the need for information, and had consulted with the city attorney before the meeting began. After the residents’ remarks, the city attorney told the audience that:
1) The location of this facility came as a surprise to the city.
2) It is not licensed.
The owner of the business qualified it as “supportive housing.” Supportive housing is defined in Health and Safety Code 53260 subsection D. The target population includes people who have interesting substance abuse issues.
The attorney stressed that she is not saying whether this facility does or does not qualify as “supportive housing.” Which I believe is her way of saying this conversation has only just begun.
If it qualifies, facilities like the DTC could be located anywhere in Sierra Madre without a Conditional Use Permit. As many as can find places to rent.
Nice, right? State and Federal Law rules all. Specifically the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Both of which specify that drug addicts are actually people with disabilities, and therefore have needs that are sacrosanct. Obviously that legal viewpoint, along with this community, is what is being exploited here.
Sierra Madre is a nice town where people pay a lot of money to live. "Sober House" operators know that, and we may be seeing many more such places in the near future. The time to fight this is now.
Much of the evening was spent with the members of the Planning Commission asking the City Attorney a lot of questions. Obviously they are trying to determine what it is they can and cannot do to control things such as the Dedicato Treatment Center. Nothing was decided last night. This was much more about fact-finding than anything else. The show will continue.
At the end of the meeting the facility's operations manager, Durlene Escobar, came to the podium with a complaint. The Dedicato TC website (link), which we discussed here quite a bit this week, had received 20,000 unwanted hits over the last three days. This for a place where people would quite naturally wish to spend their time in privacy. She was not happy about that.
Commissioner Goldstein, who made his pile working with various Internet sorts of things, replied that it was the nature of the website itself that opened the Dedicato TC to such unwanted exposure, and had they handled their business differently there wouldn't have been so unwanted a result. Ms. Escobar replied that the address of the facility was nowhere to be found on the website.
Which was kind of a specious response in my opinion. There is a huge picture of 22 W. Carter on their website, and it didn't take all that long for the concerned neighbors and their friends to figure out the address.
But also, this is not the only site that discusses the place. For the record, here is another website, and it has the forbidden address (link).
Then there is this from the California Secretary of State (link).
A video of last night's Planning Commission meeting can be found here. It is fascinating viewing. The sight of a city trying to defend its rights in the face of insane California and Federal laws can be that sometimes.
We will have more for you in the next couple of days.