Michael Webster
Orange County controversial sober living homes
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By Michael Webster
May 14, 2016

Thursday night at the Laguna Hills Community Center a regional town hall meeting was held, where State legislators, Mayors and City Council members from many Orange County cities, along with legal experts that represents a number of those cities attended along with an estimated 400 to 500 county residents, to discuss sober-living homes, which has become a controversial hot- item among residents across Orange County.

The popular meeting was, organized by State Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel; Assemblyman Bill Brough, R-Dana Point; and Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, whom wanted to advance information about current and proposed state legislation and other rules, as well as a specific cases in Costa Mesa, and what has become known as the "Hurwitz's Suit."

California state law, according to attorney's Patrick Munoz of Rutan and Tucker and Todd Leishman of Best, Best and Krieger, in a joint presentation, indicated that sober-living homes that do not provide any medical or nonmedical services, to their recovering drug and or alcohol residents are not required to seek licenses from the state departments of Social Services or Health Care Services agencies.

Last nights attendees included homeowners, local elected officials and operators or residents of sober-living homes. As indicated by a show of hands.

The most startling revelation for the night was, those so called recovering addicts are legally considered disabled under state and ADA federal law, which is what, has prevented local legislation against the homes, being successful. Leishman said.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

"The more state legislators hear from people in their districts, the more the issue is likely to be solved," Harper said. "I hope this isn't end of participation. I hope it's the beginning."

Bates, Brough and Harper all asked the residents to support two remaining assembly bills 2255 and 2403, the only two of five bills written to address sober-living homes that are still up for consideration.

The bills require that sober living homes in California must obtain state licensing and would limit and even halt more of these business's opening up in any given neighborhood.

Bates urged "good operators" of sober-living homes to band together and work with legislators.

"If they want to have a healthy industry meeting the challenge of the epidemic of drug abuse, with people addicted at young ages, they need to come to the table and help craft legislation," Bates said.

In the mean time, Hurwitz said his lawsuit, whose decision could set a legal precedent, will be heard at the Orange County Superior Court on June 6.

One unidentified county resident told this reporter that he lives next to a sober living home and there have been no problems with the residents. He also stated many of these people are victims of our system. We need to realize that they are disabled and need our help. "It reminds me of the nuclear waste issue, everyone wants the problem to be resolved as long as it is not placed in their neighborhood."

© Michael Webster

 

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Michael Webster

Michael Webster's Syndicated Investigative Reports are read worldwide, in 100 or more U.S. outlets and in at least 136 countries and territories. He publishes articles in association with global news agencies and media information services with more than 350 news affiliates in 136 countries... (more)

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