Costa Mesa files suit against three sober living homes it alleges are operating illegally – Orange County Register

COSTA MESA – The city is seeking a court injunction against three sober living homes, alleging the facilities are operating illegally without the necessary permits.

The city filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday, Jan. 2, asking a judge to grant a preliminary and permanent injunction and nuisance abatement against Morningside Recovery, at 1798 Pomona Ave., True Recovery at 2558 Orange Ave. and Discovery House at 2964 Peppertree Lane, according to court documents.

The city is accusing the operators of failing to obtain — or even apply for — a conditional use permit for the facilities, which are all in multi-family areas.

“We are done cowering to abusive rehab operators who snub our rules and permit procedures,” Councilwoman Katrina Foley said in a statement.

Also listed as defendants are the owners of the homes, Newport Beach-based Barry Saywitz Properties, and its principal, Barry Saywitz, the documents said.

Ronald Talmo, attorney for Morningside, said Tuesday that his client “has virtually no presence in Costa Mesa anymore.” He declined to comment further.

Saywitiz declined to comment.

Morningside leases the properties from Saywitz and subleases one of the sites to True Recovery. Discovery House is associated with Morningside, according to the complaint.

The city is asking that the recovery homes be declared a public nuisance and that operations be temporarily or permanently halted. The Pomona Avenue property houses up to 16 residents while the other two each consist of four two-story condominiums that house those recovering from alcohol or drug addiction.

Morningside and Saywitz Properties have been issued a combined 20 citations for violations that remain unpaid, the complaint said.

“We filed this legal action to compel compliance with our ordinances and to protect the residential character of our neighborhoods for the benefit of all Costa Mesa
residents,” Mayor Sandy Genis said in a statement.

Orange County — and to a larger degree, Costa Mesa — has become the epicenter for recovery homes in the state.

In an effort to regulate the facilities, Costa Mesa officials have adopted a series of ordinances that require operators to obtain permits, create spacing requirements between facilities and require operators to adhere to protocols when evicting sober living residents, many of whom come from other states.

Foley recently spoke with federal leaders in Washington, D.C. about the industry and the…

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