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Recovery center files federal suit

Pacific Shores Recovery’s attorney says law is illegal.

May 13, 2008|By Brianna Bailey

The recovery center Pacific Shores Recovery is suing Newport Beach in U.S. District Court over the city’s policies on drug and alcohol rehabilitation homes, adding to the city’s mounting pile of legal woes.

The lawsuit, filed April 28, claims a city ban on new drug rehabilitation homes, which began in April 2007 and was lifted in January, is discriminatory. The moratorium ended when the city passed a new ordinance requiring most of the homes to undergo a public hearing process to obtain permits.

“Pacific Shores wasn’t doing anything that would be a violation of the moratorium. Even if they did, the moratorium in and of itself is illegal,” said Steven Polin, a Washington D.C.-based attorney for Pacific Shores Recovery, which houses recovering addicts and alcoholics at two Newport addresses. “Pacific Shores did nothing to incur the wrath of the city.”

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The lawsuit alleges the city began cracking down on rehabilitation homes in the city after a small group of “irrational” residents complained about rehabilitation homes in their neighborhood, and Pacific Shores was singled out by the city, Polin said.

“The record is pretty clear that the actions of the City Council were driven by the activism of the neighbors who opposed group homes in Newport Beach,” he said.

Pacific Shores is one of two local rehab homes the city sued last November for allegedly violating the moratorium. The suit claims Pacific Shores opened new residential facilities for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts while the moratorium was in effect.

Attorney Jim Markman, who represents Newport Beach on the rehabilitation homes issue, said he believed the city’s moratorium on rehabilitation homes was legal and would stand up in court.

“[Pacific Shores] is saying they’ve been singled out, but the moratorium says you will be in violation if you open a new facility, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

Pacific Shores also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year that has been handed to the Justice Department, which could be the first step in a federal discrimination lawsuit, Polin said.

Pacific Shores claims its two facilities in Newport Beach don’t offer treatment, counseling or therapy — just a place for sober addicts to live. The homes aren’t licensed by the state, so the law treats them the same as it would a group of roommates living together in a private home, Polin said.


BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at brianna.bailey@latimes.com.

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