San Rafael city staff will recommend that city council members at their March 7 meeting adopt an urgency ordinance to temporarily close new “Clean and Sober” group homes of a certain size in residential neighborhoods.
The recommendation is a response to about 150 emails and letters from residents voicing concern about two new facilities. Should city council adopt the ordinance, the temporary moratorium on their operations would be in effect for 45 days while city officials sort out legal issues. The proposed ordinance requires four of five council votes to pass.
One of the new facilities, a single-family home located at 1 Culloden Park Road, is run by company called Bay Area Sober Living. It can serve up to 11 residents in recovery, plus the manager and his wife, according to a memo to the city from the facility’s manager, Leo Van Warmerdam. Warmerdam would not specify how many people currently reside at the home, but said in a recent phone conversation that the facility would be affected by the ordinance. At the time, Warmerdam said he preferred not comment further on the ordinance. Warmerdam has leased the building on Culloden for a year.
Letters sent to city staff by neighbors include concerns about local parking impacts, increased traffic, increased noise, decreased property values and potential fire hazards.
Part of the issue with these new facilities, Landecker said, is that they came into the neighborhood with little warning, and barely any communication to neighbors.
City officials said they were not aware of the existence of the new facilities until it was brought to their attention at the Feb. 22 council meeting.
The city is only proposing a temporary moratorium on the facility operations because city staff needs time to research whether the city indeed has ultimate authority on the issue. State and federal guidelines, including the federal Fair Housing Act, may trump the city’s regulatory authority. “The planning and legal work necessary by City staff to conduct a thorough review of federal and state law and the City’s existing zoning regulations, will be considerable,” reads the staff report.
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