Costa Mesa officials recommend ways to keep sober living residents from ending up homeless

COSTA MESA Planning commissioners have recommended a series of regulations they say will help ensure residents evicted from sober living homes don’t become part of the city’s homeless population.

Residents at the Planning Commission meeting Monday night complained that some residents discharged from sober living homes litter in their neighborhoods, become disruptive and wind up homeless. They said they have noticed an uptick in drug use and crime.

Westside resident Cindy Black said the city has not done enough to enforce existing ordinances to regulate sober living facilities.

“I want the city to be really proactive and do something to help the residents that live here,” she said.

Since group home residents come from all over the country, the new rules “will add protections for the residents of groups homes whose tenure may be terminated involuntarily,” a city staff report said.

In a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Carla Navarro Woods absent, the commission recommended changes to the city’s ordinace that regulates the facilities that would help evicted residents receive services and transportation home.

The City Council will vote on the proposed changes at a future meeting.

Following an outcry from the public, commissioners denied changes to the type of permits required for sober living facilities.

The commission also denied a provision that would have allowed the director of economic and development services to allow smaller distances between group homes than the mandated 650-feet required – if doing so would not result in an over-concentration of facilities.

Commission Vice Chair Byron de Arakal, who said he had a nephew who struggled with addiction, argued the changes would not benefit the group home residents or operators.

“If you give a zoning administrator discretion to fudge on the 650-foot rule, then the walls start marching in and you’re actually creeping towards institutionalization… and that does not benefit the…

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