Sober living facility ordinance reaches council

ENCINITAS — A proposed ordinance that would regulate so-called sober living facilities is headed before the council this week.

Five of the halfway homes that house recovering drug and alcohol addicts, provided they stay “clean and sober,” have popped up in Encinitas, bringing both praise and criticism from neighbors.

It is the criticism, however, that has prompted city officials to develop a set of rules mirrored after two Orange County cities to get some of the problems associated with the facilities under control.

Over the past year, neighbors in the residential sections of downtown have complained that the residents at the facilities generate excessive trash, debris and second-hand smoke from cigarettes, as well as noise and parking problems.

City officials learned that the facilities aren’t regulated by the state because the homes don’t provide substance abuse treatment or counseling, neither were there ordinances on the books to regulate them locally.

Costa Mesa and Newport Beach drafted ordinances last year, with the Costa Mesa rules being immediately challenged in the courts by operators of the facilities. One judge dismissed one of the suits, but the operators have since appealed.

As a result, the Encinitas Planning Commission, which voted in August to recommend approval of the draft ordinance, is also recommending the council delay approval of the second and final reading of the ordinance until the legal challenges in Costa Mesa have been resolved.

The proposed ordinance calls for the following regulations:

No more than six persons per home

One on-site manager

All occupants must be participating in legitimate recovery programs

mandatory employee background checks

650 foot separation between facilities

One-year grace period to obtain permits for existing facilities

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