Guest Letter

Cottie Petrie-Norris

State Assembly

74th District

Irresponsible operators with pending licenses for a social rehabilitation facility

Guest Letter Cottie Petrie Norris

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Courtesy of Cottie Petrie-Norris

Cottie Petrie-Norris

(The letter below is the response from Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris to Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp.)

Thank you for your continued partnership with our office. I am writing in response to your letter dated April 11, 2022. My objective is to clarify a couple of key points and identify opportunities for local enforcement to curtail abuses in residential care facilities in the City of Newport Beach.

When the Legislature enacted Health & Saf. Code, Section 11934.23, subd. (a), the intent was to require that six-bed residential facilities be treated the same “as a family for the purposes of any law or zoning ordinance that relates to a residential use of property.” The Legislature determined that, if the rehabilitation program was structured to act like a family unit, then cities and counties must allow it to locate in single-family residential zones and not subject it to local permitting. The Legislature’s intent was to allow standalone facilities whose residents mimicked a family by their cooperative living arrangements, shared expenses and long-term residency.

Aware of the Legislature’s decision regarding six-bed facilities, operators attempt to exploit this family unit exception by acquiring or leasing multiple single-family properties within close proximity and sending residents of those homes to a single treatment facility where services and staff are shared amongst the residents of their various homes. Further, instead of treating up to six persons, they treat multiples of six, and therefore should be viewed in total as “7 bed and over” Integral Facilities that are subject to local ordinances and laws. In previous correspondence, you have recognized that these facilities should be treated as Integral Facilities. As we have seen in the City of Costa Mesa, there is indeed an opportunity to regulate these Integral Facilities under a City Ordinance.

Costa Mesa’s Ordinance has a very strong Integral Facilities definition that clearly states that two or more state licensed 6 bed and under facilities under common ownership and sharing services can be regulated by the City. Their Ordinance has been reviewed and upheld multiple times before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At each court review the Integral Facilities definition has passed scrutiny, even though the Ordinance has a severability clause that would allow any section of the Ordinance to be struck. My office recommends that Newport Beach also prudently maintain its current Integral Facilities definition and reserve its right to regulate these facilities.

In order to curtail the proliferation of bad operators in the City of Newport Beach, we must take action at both the state and local level. I am continuing to push forward with much needed reforms in state statute and oversight in the recovery industry. Local oversight and enforcement of Integral Facilities must also be part of the solution.

If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my Chief of Staff Claire Conlon at 949.251.0074.

Cottie Petrie-Norris 

California State Assemblywoman