Costa Mesa, California, officials “celebrated” last week after one of the largest operators of local sober-living homes, Solid Landings Behavioral Health, agreed to shut down all of its live-in facilities in town and end its legal fight with City Hall.
But the legal battle over a city ordinance aimed at stemming the proliferation of sober-living homes could still go another few rounds, according to an attorney representing plaintiffs in another lawsuit against the city.
Yellowstone Recovery, a sober-living home operator, joined with two other plaintiffs in 2014 to file suit against Costa Mesa in an attempt to strike down an ordinance requiring that such facilities in single-family neighborhoods obtain special permits and be at least 650 feet from one another.
Like Solid Landings, which also turned to the courts to fight the ordinance, Yellowstone claimed the restrictions discriminated against recovering drug and alcohol addicts.
Unlike Solid Landings, though, there have been no recent talks to settle that legal bout, said attorney Steven Polin, who represents Yellowstone and its co-plaintiffs, which include the Sober Living Network, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who negotiated with Solid Landings on behalf of the city, last week called the development “a landmark, watershed moment” for Costa Mesa and, based on the agreement, said he expects more operators to leave.
Our takeaway: Steve Polin is the one of the nation’s top housing rights attorneys and was the victor in the Newport Beach case amongst other repeated victories for civil rights. Recovery houses have existed in various forms in the United States since the mid-19th century; evolving from early “inebriate homes,” community missions and retreats for members of Alcoholics Anonymous, to more recent models such as halfway houses and democratically run Oxford Houses, according to NARR. People have long sought strength and support for their recovery within a sober living environment. In 2011, the first members of NARR developed unified terms and standards and the national organization certified more than 2,500 recovery houses over the next several years. Soon, state-level affiliates such as FARR began to emerge and take over the certification processes. However, there is NO public money that helps offset the high costs of providing a recovery residential environment. Tie public funding to certification and regulation to provide excellent health care, and perhaps NIMBY situations such as Costa Mesa will become a thing of the past.