Friday, January 6, 2017

Video of Last Night's Planning Commission Meeting - Plus: More on Sober Living Homes

Click here.

At just under 53 minutes this was a pretty concise affair. I'd tell you what happened but you should really watch the video and check it all out for yourself. It will be interesting to see how the City Council deals with the "Group Living Facilities" (AKA "Sober Living Homes") question down the road. It really is one of the most important issues this city is facing right now.

The Sober Living Homes boom and its consequences
A comment about some possible consequences to Sierra Madre of the "Sober Living Home" boom was left on this site yesterday. The author provided some links to important news articles as well. Here is what the commenter had to say:

I recently moved to Sierra Madre from Orange County where the dramatic increase of sober living homes has become an issue in every city there. I'm hoping the city here takes a long look at how to manage this, before the numbers grow out of control. Some background on the issues:

South County cities 'struggling' over sober living homes (OC Register link): Cities throughout suburban South Orange County are working on how to handle the influx of sober-living homes in their residential communities, responding to local homeowners’ complaints and citing their presence as a potential threat to neighborhood character.

“A lot of cities are struggling right now,” Laguna Niguel Assistant City Manager Dan Fox said recently. “They’re trying to figure out how to balance and preserve the nature of a single family neighborhood with the needs of those sober living residents.”

Sober living homes house groups of individuals recovering from addiction issues, and are often located in suburban neighborhoods – a venue common throughout the county.

“It is an attractive area,” Fox said. “We have larger homes – lots of single family homes - that you can convert very easily.” (Mod: More at the above link.)

A Sobering Discussion (San Clemente Times link): In recent months, residents of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano have expressed increasing concern about their neighbors—many of them new. For them, the issue isn’t so much the quality of their neighbors but rather the frequency in turnover of these new residents.

These neighbors come and go from residential group homes—some for children and adolescents, others for disabled adults and many for people recovering from alcohol and drug abuse.

Between the three south Orange County cities there are 24 licensed drug and alcohol treatment facilities. This includes residential homes, inpatient and outpatient facilities, according to a report from the state Department of Health Care Services, which provides licensing oversight for such facilities.

These residential treatment facilities are considered single-family residences in the eyes of both the state and municipal governments, so long as no more than six people are residing in the home. Under that foundation, these dwellings are awarded the same freedoms as traditional single-family residences. But they are licensed by the state and therefore must meet certain standards.

As far as municipal rules go though, there is little to no oversight, or even enforcement measures that can be taken, because city regulations regarding such uses simply do not exist—as group homes, with six or fewer people, are permitted by right in any residential zone. (More at the above link.)

A Small Town Struggles With A Boom In Sober Living Homes (NPR link): When Phillip decided to stop using heroin, he knew sticking around home was a recipe for failure.

"It's just, like, a heroin epidemic on Long Island where I'm from. So I had to get away from that and now I'm in Prescott, Ariz.," Phillip says. NPR agreed not to use his last name because he is struggling with addiction and fears it might hurt his chances of future employment.

Phillip and a handful of other young people are filtering through the line at a soup kitchen at the Prescott United Methodist Church just before noon. They are grabbing a bite to eat before their next meeting of recovering addicts nearby.

"Everybody here is basically, I feel like, in recovery and they're more serious about it," says Phillip.

Not like back home in New York, he says, where people shoot up in the parking lot before meetings. (More at the above link.)

Costa Mesa Planning Commission to review 6 more sober-living permit requests today (Los Angeles Times link): The deluge of sober-living home operators seeking permits they need to remain open in Costa Mesa continues Monday, when the city Planning Commission is scheduled to review six applications.

The meeting is the latest in a recent stretch in which commissioners have met weekly to go through a backlog of sober-living permit requests.

The permits are required under a pair of city ordinances restricting how close such facilities can be to one another. The homes generally house recovering drug and alcohol addicts who are considered disabled under state and federal law.

All the sober-living homes up for review Monday have been open at least two years, according to city documents. 

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

City officials say the goal of the ordinances is to prevent the facilities from clustering in residential areas, though some critics have claimed the restrictions are illegal and discriminate against recovering addicts. (More at the above link. Pay particularly close attention to this next one.)

Sober Living Businesses in Residential Zones (Western City link): Current law limits local regulation of sober living homes and residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation (rehab) facilities. These uses have become lucrative businesses in many instances, and their operation in single-family neighborhoods is sometimes controversial. This article presents the current legal constraints and considerations for cities related to these homes and facilities.

1. Licensed residential rehab programs are subject to the same (and no more) local laws as single-family homes. Cities may regulate land uses to protect the character of residential neighborhoods. This authority is not unfettered. State and federal law can pre-empt local regulation. State licensing statutes expressly exempt certain residential rehab facilities from local zoning regulations. Alcohol and drug programs (ADPs) that provide 24-hour residential nonmedical services to adults who are recovering from alcohol and/or drug abuse must obtain a state license. If a licensed ADP facility serves six or fewer patients, state law prohibits cities from regulating it any differently than a single-family home.

2. State law imposes fewer restrictions on licensed residential rehab programs than other licensed group homes. State-licensed group homes are subject to different restrictions. The Community Care Facilities Act, from which alcohol and drug rehabs are exempt, imposes various restrictions that protect the character of residential neighborhoods. For example, under the act, licensed foster homes cannot be for-profit businesses. ADPs, however, may operate as for-profit enterprises in residential zones without business licenses because licenses generally are not required of other single-family uses. 

3. Sober living homes do not require a license and are not limited to six or fewer residents. A sober living home provides a substance-free, mutually supportive living environment for adult recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. No services are provided but residents may engage in self-help programs individually or with others. The state licenses residential facilities that provide nonmedical treatment and detoxification services. Where no treatment is provided to residents, no license is required. The limitation to six patients is part of the state statute. Because the license statute does not apply, sober living homes are not limited to six residents per single-family home. Also because the statute does not apply, cities are not pre-empted by state law from regulating these uses. However, as noted below, other legal considerations apply.

4. Anti-discrimination laws and “reasonable accommodation” requirements limit categorical regulation of sober living homes. Federal and state fair housing laws protect people with disabilities from housing discrimination. Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts are disabled for purposes of anti-discrimination laws. When people in recovery live together in a “sober living” home, cities cannot discriminate on the basis of the disability, which means an ordinance cannot treat sober living homes differently than other similar uses in single-family residential zones.

(Mod: You really should read through the entire Western City article because it details just how completely the state and feds have tied the hands of local governments on this issue. More is available at the link provided above.)

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

42 comments:

  1. Trump hasn't even been inaugurated yet and his advisors already quitting.

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    1. Usually a ship has to actually set sail to start sinking. Early for a rat departure.

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  2. What does that have to do with the topic king of poor English???

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    1. Brilliant retort, Lord Bad Grammar.

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    2. I think it's more a matter of punctuation.

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  3. Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I wanna go to bed......

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  4. Not to be gracelessly on topic, but the Planning Commission has dome all they can on the Group Living question. Hopefully The City Council will support their efforts.

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    1. With the exception of Harabedian, this council has mostly listened to the PC's sage advice, and followed it.

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  5. Moderator extensive research into ADP living homes located in residential neighborhoods, thank you.
    The ADP operators make money off of the individuals struggling to recover. The State gets the taxes and possibly Federal assist and the towns get zero because no business license is required.
    The new 620 (?) law is similar. The voters gave thumbs up for sale of marijuana, the State is ok with sales. The Federal laws don't allow any sales and small towns can't ask for a business license.
    Do we thank our Politicians and Representatives and the Attorneys that "screw" with putting monies into all their pockets at the expense of "treatment" sober ADP and medicinal high?
    Since when did Drug Dealers, Politicians and Attorneys join forces against those in recovery and residential homeowners?
    No tax business base for towns and public taxes charged for assisting. Who's helping who?

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  6. The #1 priority of state and local government is funding their retirements. And at very high levels. If there is money to be made off it, they will vote to approve.

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  7. People can fight a law and change it, and that's what need to happen with this corrupt industry. The cities together can force the legislature to allow neighborhoods to protect themselves. Recovering addicts should be in medical facilities.

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    1. Our Director of Planning ought to take a road trip to Malibu and join up with the activist mayor there, as a start.
      Sierra Madre has been at the forefront of lots of good fights. Why not this one?

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    2. I think that is a good idea. We took the lead on the 710 tunnel, too.

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    3. The California Legislature is comprised of Democrates. Maybe emails to those voted into office will make a difference from those that voted them in.

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    4. 7:51, I agree, fight the good fight. However please know that this is much bigger than a few cities. HUD has passed laws concerning housing. They now have the AAHD. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing was designed to radically subvert local zoning laws. It's a share the wealth program that allows equal living for all. Groups of people can obtain assistance from HUD in finding housing in many communities even if they cannot afford it. HUD supplements money. If a city doesn't cooperate in allowing a breaking of the zoning law, the city loses its federal funding. This is part of Agenda 21 aka Agenda 20-30. I hope Dr. Ben Carson can implement changes in HUD- AAHD.

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    5. This city wouldn't dream of not taking federal funding. They love keeping us in debt!

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    6. 7:51 AM
      Those medical facilities were unfortunately all closed under good ol' Reagan...

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  8. It's maddening that these places are allowed to be anywhere without proper licensing. They are total parasites, making profits without contributing a damn thing to the neighborhoods they are in.

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  9. Old News. Obama writes his Goodbyes.
    G o o d B y e.

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  10. I agree 6:22. I voted against legalizing Marijuana because it presents so many problems.

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  11. If we don't make a lot of articulate noise about this issue ,it has the potential to destroy small towns like Sierra Madre. We are defenseless because our elected representatives do nothing because it does not affect them..

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    1. What needs to happen is that these pseudo treatment centers have to start setting up next to legislators' homes. That would do it.

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    2. Correct. So why is it O.K. in our backyard but not theirs?
      Answer: because they represent themselves ,not us. Which is where Mr.Crawford comes in.Thank you Mod!

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    3. Most of the idiots who scream "Nimby!" are Nimbys themselves.

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  12. Sea World. Tilikum has died.

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  13. Multiple record close, S&P NASDAQ and DOW, thank-you Donald Trump. Dow nearing 20k.

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    1. Party in the swamp!

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    2. Yes the rich will get richer,some may trickle down to the working class, of course many "blue collar" folks will have to die due to the easing of worker protection laws to enrich our new rulers.

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    3. Nice steady growth under Obama after the last disastrous GOP president. Now another bubble forming due to the next GOP president. People like 9:33 are incapable of learning from history.

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    4. 9:33 not old enough to vote yet

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    5. You mean 9:39?

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    6. This is off topic but extremely important. The city of arcadia recently mailed out their "Arcadia Community News" publication. This fine publication includes a 2017 calendar with photos of various humans, not sure if true Arcadia residents. There are NO pictures of Asians within the calendar. Could someone please contact the attorney behind the current lawsuit against Arcadia for the apparent illegal method they use to elect council members? You'll remember there is a lawsuit to force districts instead of city wide popular vote. Maybe the attorney can tack this violation onto the existing lawsuit. A travesty for certain !

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    7. Were the people in this calendar wearing swim suits?

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    8. 1.02 PM:
      Of course it is a bubble, but so are the houses here in Sierra Madre, if we dare to look at it that way.

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  14. 9:39am. Is busy buying and selling, if you own a smart phone you too can invest in the market, just install the app. on your phone and suppliment your bank accounts.

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  15. Breaking News: NSA all secure governmental lines should quickly update their passwords so as not to be hacked. Top suggestion for a secure line "password".

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  16. Thanks Mod for another informative article.

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  17. The Planning Director has made it quite clear that there is nothing that can be done about the 6 bed or less hustles, no matter what.

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    1. Junkies have special rights. Taxpayers don't.

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    2. 7:32, you are confounding two issues, which does not help the discussion.

      There are a lot of "junkies" that pay more taxes than the average household in Sierra Madre does. Just to give two examples from the leadership of this country: Our former president Bush is a recovered alcoholic. The brother of our president elect, Fred Trump, died in his forties as a consequence of his alcoholism. Although, we don't know how much taxes he has paid at the time, it can be safely assumed that it was substantially more than the residents here. My point is that alcoholism and addiction in general knows no class.

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