Sober Discussion Marks OC Town Hall on Sober Living Homes

Attendees Briefed on Ongoing Efforts and Lessons Learned
Thursday, May 12, 2016

More than 500 residents from South Orange County and beyond attended a regional town hall meeting tonight at the Laguna Hills Community Center to learn about ongoing efforts to address the proliferation of “sober living homes” in their communities. These homes are intended to help those recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, but have raised public safety and other concerns among neighbors.

The event was sponsored by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) and Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach), in partnership with the Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACCOC) and the Orange County Association of Realtors.

The legislators and other government officials have received numerous inquiries from residents asking what can be done to address the proliferation and overconcentration of sober living homes. Numerous local elected officials were in attendance including Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and council members from several Orange County cities.

After opening remarks delivered by Laguna Hills Mayor Barbara Kogerman, Bates and Laguna Hills City Manager Bruce Channing, the following individuals made their presentations:

  • Todd Leishman of Best Best and Krieger and Patrick Munoz of Rutan and Tucker – legal overview of sober living homes;
  • Tarquin Preziosi, Costa Mesa City Attorney – Costa Mesa case study;
  • David Hurwitz (a San Clemente resident) and Richard McNeil of Snell and Wilmer – San Clemente case study;
  • Bates, Brough, Harper and Diana Coronado of the Association of California Cities Orange County – update on state legislative efforts.

Following the presentations, a question-and-answer session was held between the audience, co-hosts and presenters. Quotes from the event co-sponsors can be found below.

Senator Patricia Bates
“Every person – whether they live in a sober living home or near one – deserves to live in a safe residence. I believe tonight’s town hall gave everyone a better sense of what we can do as a community to appropriately regulate sober living homes and protect public safety. I am hopeful that our efforts to responsibly address this issue for neighbors and sober living home residents alike will lead to tangible progress in the months ahead.”

Assemblyman Bill Brough
“We must continue to pursue legislative reforms to fix the sober living home laws that adversely affect our neighborhoods. I support the safety of sober living home residents, however I also believe our residential neighborhoods deserve the highest level of safety for their families and their children. Tonight's event demonstrated the growing level of frustration from our cities and constituents which is why I will continue to aggressively pursue sober living home legislation regardless of any opposition.”

Assemblyman Matthew Harper
"It is important that we provide an equally safe residence for both those who need sober living, and those who live near the facilities. At this important town hall, residents were provided with the information they needed to better understand how these sober living homes operate. Hopefully their questions were answered as to how we are working to ensure our communities remain safe with these facilities helping people live clean lives.”

Heather Stratman, CEO of Association of California Cities – Orange County
“Sober-living home policy is broken. Patients aren’t being protected and communities are being harmed by bad actors who exploit the system. But cities’ hands are often tied. That's why we appreciate the engagement of our state legislators who are partnering with local governments to find meaningful reforms that provide some level of relief. Our shared goal is to help communities have some level of control over these facilities, while also ensuring that patient care is protected and in some cases improved.”  

PHOTO #1
CAPTION: More than 500 residents attended tonight's town hall. Photo Credit: Office of Senator Patricia Bates.

PHOTO #2
CAPTION: From left to right, Assemblyman Bill Brough, Senator Patricia Bates and Assemblyman Matthew Harper take turns discussing legislative efforts regarding sober living homes. Photo Credit: Office of Senator Patricia Bates.