Friday, March 24, 2017

Yet Another Sober Living Ordinance On Tap Monday

 IT'S GOING TO BE AN INTERESTING NIGHT
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission will meet Monday, March 27, 2017, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall to consider three Public Hearings, among them is a new ordinance directed at Group Homes and Sober Living Facilities.  You can read the full agenda report HERE.
CLAIRE FLYNN TO BE HONORED
One of the highlights for me is the recognition of Claire Flynn, former Assistant Development Services Director who left the City after nearly three decades last year.  She was a dedicated, very professional employee and her skills are certainly missed.
EXTENDING SADDLEBACK CHURCH CUP
Let's get the non-controversial items out of the way first.  Public Hearing #1, HERE, is a conditional use permit requested by Saddleback Church to continue operations at 1901 Newport Boulevard.  The church has been operating at that locations, in four venues within that location, for the past two years under a previously-issued Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which expired December 8, 2016.  They re-applied at the end of October.  Concerns over parking and traffic patterns were expressed so field observations were necessary before considering granting this CUP.  The staff has provided a lengthy staff report outlining the measures that will be taken to resolve those issues and are recommending approval of the requested CUP.
A NEW DOG DAY CARE ON W.16TH STREET
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is a request for a Conditional Use Permit for a dog day care and boarding facility at 704 W. 16th Street.  The staff report outlines the conditions being imposed on the operator and recommends approval.
STREAMLINING SOBER LIVING APPLICATIONS
Which brings us to the final item on the agenda, Public Hearing #3, HERE, the Code Amendment that will modify the Municipal Code with regard to group homes, state licensed facilities and boardinghouses in Multiple-Family and Single-Family Residential zones and Planned Development zones.  The revisions are intended to streamline the City's review of these applications and provide additional protections for residents of these facilities.  I won't attempt to replicate the 39 page staff report, but do find some of the changes fascinating.
STAGGERING NUMBERS!
This new ordinance affects the review process for two previously-issued ordinances - 14-13 and 15-11.  The numbers in the revised ordinance are staggering.  There is a red-line version available in the staff report, shown as Attachment 1 and beginning on handwritten page 8.  Here are some examples:
  1. In the 38 months from January, 2014 to March, 2017 the City experienced an increase of 84% in the number of sober living facilities and residential care facilities in the multiple-family residential zones.  Those new facilities resulted in an increase of 715 beds - a 113% increase.  As of March 1, 2017 the City had a total of 115 residential care facilities in the multi-family residential zones, with an estimated 1,347 bed to treat drug and alcohol addiction.
  2. Currently, in all zones, it is estimated that the City of Costa Mesa has 1,748 alcohol and drug recovery beds, divided as follows: 63 state licensed residential facilities/certified alcohol and drug programs in residential zones with six or fewer occupants, providing 352 beds; 19 state licensed facilities with seven or more occupants providing 269 beds; 97 unlicensed sober living homes in all residential zones, providing 1,127 beds; included in those homes are 10 homes that have been issued Special Use Permits providing 60 beds; and 1 approved CUP application per the MFR Ordinance providing 11 beds.
  3. Costa Mesa is currently home to almost 29% of the state licensed residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities in Orange County although the city represents 3.6% of the County's population.


WHAT IT ADDRESSES
This new ordinance will address the following issues:
  • Reasonable Accommodation
  • Review process for group homes in multi-family zones containing seven or more residents
  • Review process for group homes in single-family and multi-family zones containing six or fewer residents
  • Eviction/involuntary termination of residency
  • Compliance with Vehicle Code
  • Required Separation between Group Homes 
EXPECTING A CROWD...
Needless to say, this hearing may be a long one, and will likely generate significant public interest.  I have no idea how many people will show up for this one, to offer their opinions on what appears to be an effort to make it easier for sober living homes to receive permits to operate without public knowledge.  Pitchforks and torches comes to mind...
GONNA BE FUN
So, Monday night will be interesting.  I suspect we will see a crowd in Council Chambers.  We'll report on it after... come see in person, watch live on Costa Mesa TV or the live stream on the city website.

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