City moves ahead with rehab home agreement

Neighbors decry impacts from rehab residents, although councilman says more protections are in place.

September 15, 2010|By Mike Reicher,

NEWPORT BEACH — In its second major settlement with a rehabilitation home operator, the city of Newport Beach this week moved one step closer to a deal that would restrict one operators' impacts on neighbors.

The City Council voted Tuesday night to advance an agreement with Morningside Recovery, despite an outcry from neighbors who objected to having the homes in certain neighborhoods as well as other aspects of the agreement.

"It's a very worthwhile document for us to approve," said Councilman Mike Henn, who said that the pact achieves more neighbor protections than Morningside would be obligated to under state law. "It is a very substantive agreement with substantive requirements, operating conditions and enforcement provisions."


If the council approves the document at its next meeting, it would let the city move on from one aspect of its costly legal battles against rehab home operators who serve recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. The city has spent more than $1.5 million fighting lawsuits based on its ordinances, including one in 2008 that forced operators to undergo an extensive public review and permitting process.

Even with this agreement, residents of Lido Isle, Newport Crest and West Newport said that the homes are a big problem and they came to the meeting to protest.

"It allows Morningside to bring in people (and) turn them loose on the street with no control whatsoever," said Willis Longyear, a longtime resident of Lido Isle, where a triplex rehab home is located.

The agreement caps the number of beds that Morningside can maintain in the city at 36, including 30 in the "Peninsula Zone," an area that includes Newport Shores, upper West Newport, Lido Isle and the Balboa Peninsula.

Since 2007, when the city started cracking down on the rehab homes, it has reduced the number of beds from 791 to 197, according to a city report.

City Atty. David Hunt explained the agreement's basic provisions and said the deal meets concerns that residents had expressed at previous public hearings. He said that the city will evaluate the rehab homes quarterly, and that was a result of a request made by the West Newport Beach Homeowners Assn.

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