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Newport residents protest Lido rehab home

They claim the city isn't responding to their concerns quickly enough. Some are worried about recovering addicts who might be violent.

October 27, 2010|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com
  • Lido Isle residents attended Tuesday's City Council meeting to protest Morningside Recover's rehabilitation home at 533 Via Lido Soud.
Lido Isle residents attended Tuesday's City Council… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — As far as demonstrations here go, this qualified as mass protest: At least 70 Lido Isle residents, most of them with grey hair, crowded the City Council Chambers on Tuesday night.

They were there to lay into city officials over a drug and alcohol rehabilitation operator who had opened a group home in their neighborhood, and how they thought the city was indifferent to their outrage.

That same night, the city had announced a major breakthrough in lawsuits against group home operators, and a few weeks ago, the city had signed a settlement with Morningside Recovery. It appeared that peace was on the horizon, at least between the city and the operators, and that Newport could rely on a set of rules to regulate the homes.

But the neighbors were another story. Adding to consistent complaints by residents in West Newport and the Balboa Peninsula about the nuisances these homes present, the Lido neighbors raised the intensity.

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"This thing is rising up to a level of civil disobedience," said Edward Cook, who recently bought a lot three doors down from 533 Via Lido Soud, Morningside's new location.

Most of the arguments against the home at Tuesday's meeting concerned having a business next to residents, in a tight community of 850 homes.

"The lights are on all night," said Jack Thomson, who lives next door. "It is like a commercial building."

Neighbors also complained about excessive outdoor smoking and questioned the validity of the operator's residential lease. At least one said she feared violent recovering addicts.

Michael Brant-Zawadzki, a doctor at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian who lives on the island, said that he thought Morningside was compromising the privacy of recovering patients because neighbors could hear their conversations.

"Their values and their rights may be violated as we speak," he said.

But Morningside Chief Executive Candace Bruce said her clients were not concerned about their conversations being overheard, and that they just wanted to live in peace.

"They're interested in being good neighbors," Bruce said, adding that her organization is considering making the home a non-smoking facility.

Meanwhile, she and her clients have to deal with enraged neighbors. Bruce claimed that neighbors have left alcohol near the home to tempt the residents, and that people were shooting photos and video of the residents.

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