As sober-living and group homes continue to sprout up in Costa Mesa, the city is grappling with ways to regulate the facilities and address complaints from residents and business owners who view them as a threat to neighborhoods.
In an effort to create better oversight of the drug and alcohol treatment centers within its borders, the city plans to set aside $125,000 from its 2017-18 budget to fund a state employee to inspect its state-licensed homes, which are exempt from the city’s sober-living ordinances.
The city is currently home to 79 state-licensed facilities and around 100 that are non-licensed, City Manager Tom Hatch said.
“We have quite a bit of resources… and a lot of folks that are focused on supporting local sober-living efforts,” Hatch said. “This would be a higher level of service on those homes that we do not have the authority to inspect.”
Complaints regarding non-licensed facilities are handled by the city’s nine code enforcement officers.
Complaints against state-licensed homes go through the California Department of Healthcare Services, which has 16 inspectors – all headquartered in Sacramento.
“Meanwhile, we have hundreds of beds in our city and when there’s a complaint we have to bring it to the state, and there’s no one there to come here,” Councilman Jim Righeimer said.
Most of the state agency’s staff is located “in Sacramento for more efficient and effective operation of statewide activities,” the department said in an email.
The state employee would be based at Costa Mesa’s city hall, though other Orange County cities could chip in toward the cost if they need inspection services.
The position is contingent on the passing of AB 572 – a bill sponsored by Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton – in the state legislature that would create a pilot program in Orange County to have an investigator address issues related to state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment facilities.
“We’re trying to make sure…