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City: Home must close

Morningside Recovery didn’t apply for permit, but hopes to use state license to get around it.

December 02, 2008|By Brianna Bailey

A showdown could be brewing between Newport Beach city officials and the drug and alcohol rehabilitation company Morningside Recovery.

City officials have said Morningside must shutter its drug and alcohol rehabilitation homes in Newport Beach by February, because the company did not apply for use permits for any of its facilities — but Morningside hopes to circumvent city law by getting state licenses from the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs for its recovery homes, court documents show.

Lisa Fisher, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, confirmed Tuesday that Morningside has applied for a license in Newport Beach, but would not disclose the details of the application. Morningside already has two licensed facilities in Costa Mesa, she said.

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Attorney Ronald Talmo, who represents Morningside Recovery, declined to comment Tuesday. Phone calls to Rebecca Flood, chief executive of Morningside Recovery, were not immediately returned.

A city ordinance passed in January requires most drug and alcohol recovery homes in Newport Beach to apply for permits and go through a public hearing process to remain open. The city cannot regulate homes that house six or fewer recovering addicts if they are licensed by the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, a federal judge ruled earlier this year.

City officials have argued that these smaller homes should be viewed as one larger drug rehabilitation home when they are owned by one operator — a concept Newport Beach could argue in court.

“We’re prepared to litigate against ADP if they continue to issue six-and-under licenses for uses that are clearly integral,” said Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff.

Balboa Peninsula and West Newport residents contend the city has become overrun with recovering addicts who come to Newport Beach to attend treatment. Morningside shelters its clients in several houses and duplexes in Newport Beach.

“We’re not against people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, but we’re fighting against turning single-family residential neighborhoods into institutions,” said attorney Jim Markman, whom the city has hired to deal with rehabilitation homes in Newport Beach.

Founded by recovering alcoholic Jeff Yates, Morningside Recovery began as a 17-bed sober-living house in Newport Beach in 2002, according to the company’s website.

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