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Rehab blocks toured for input

Newport councilwoman observes impact of group homes on community for planned regulations. She did not enter any homes.

November 04, 2007|By Brianna Bailey

Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle recently toured neighborhoods residents say are overrun with rehabilitation group homes. What she saw was surprising.

Newport’s City Council authorized its independent legal counsel last week to take action against violators of a moratorium against them. The council recently continued a moratorium on new group homes in Newport Beach through October 2008. Many residents have complained the homes are a public nuisance, and the council plans to work out tighter regulations.

Question: How did your recent tour of local rehab homes come about?

Answer: During the past months, citizens have come before council expressing their concerns about group homes they graciously invited me to tour ground zero with them.

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Q: If you can tell us, what specific homes did you visit?

A: It was not my intent to target any specific home or operator or use but rather to generally understand the secondary impacts of group residential uses that can affect neighborhoods, like parking or traffic or secondhand smoke. One of my goals was to determine if group homes were operating independently versus collectively. In some cases, I noticed what appears to be a systematic coordination of meals and transportation. Stockpiles of food and supplies were visible in open storage areas. White vans were shuttling people throughout the community.

I also visited what probably is an illegal boarding house up to 17 men co-habitating. Newport Beach does not allow boarding houses in our residential zones. It’s a boarding house masquerading as a sober-living home. Each Tuesday, boarders are required to come up with $150 cash or they find themselves and their worldly possessions tossed out on the streets. That kind of living arrangement would certainly cut my expenses.

Q: What did you hope to achieve or learn from the tour?

A: I wanted to improve my understanding of the situation so that I can make an informed decision on regulating group homes. It would be a mistake for me to make a decision from abstract third-party information.

It is my responsibility to fulfill the voice of the voters as it appears in the General Plan Update. The first sentence of the Vision Statement of the voter approved General Plan Update is to preserve and enhance our character as a beautiful, unique residential community with diverse coastal and upland neighborhoods.

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