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Peninsula residents decry drug rehabilitation center

April 12, 2006|By Lauren Vane

Another rehabilitative recovery center is in the works on the Balboa Peninsula, and some locals aren't too happy about it.

The owner of an apartment building in the 1500 block of West Balboa Boulevard in Newport Beach is applying for a license that would transform the building into a recovery center for drug and alcohol abusers.

If licensed by the state, the facility will become the 10th licensed recovery center on the peninsula ? and residents say that's too many. The proposed rehab facility is one block from Newport Elementary School and near a playground and Girl Scout meeting facility.

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"We don't allow games you can put coins in within 500 feet of a school, but we can have this," Newport Beach City Councilman Dick Nichols said.

Newport Beach parents Rene Powers and Linda Ramage said another rehab facility would be a safety concern for the neighborhood.

"People have the right to recover, but we have the right to say enough homes already," Powers said.

Property owner Chris Spencer said it's likely the apartment building will be turned into a rehab facility, but it will take several months before it's licensed.

"We're probably going to use it for a recovery center," said Spencer, owner of Spencer Recovery Centers.

The state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs has not received a completed application for a recovery center license for the property, according to Kay Cumins, a licensing and certification analyst with the state.

California requires a license to operate any facility that offers residents drug or alcohol recovery or treatment services, according to the department's website.

Sober living residences for those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse don't require a license.

To obtain a license, the property owner must submit a written application and get fire clearance for the use of the building as a recovery center, the website states.

A representative of the Balboa Boulevard property has requested fire clearance to change the building occupancy from apartment to recovery center, Newport Beach Fire Marshal Steve Bunting said.

Once the Fire Department receives the findings of a building code analysis, the property owner will need to meet any additional requirements before a new occupancy permit can be issued, Bunting said.

"They've still got quite a process ahead of them," Bunting said.dpt.12-rehab-CPhotoInfo771PS84I20060412ixkyqfncDON LEACH / DAILY PILOT(LA)Rene Powers, Ann Hammerschmidt, and Linda and Markie Ramage listen as Councilman Dick Nichols talks about plans to turn the Balboa Palms apartments, in background, into a drug rehabilitation center.

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