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By Allison Jarrell
After approving a 45-day moratorium in November on permitting or establishing congregate living facilities in residential zones, the San Juan Capistrano City Council approved the adoption of a new year-long temporary moratorium on such facilities, also known as sober living homes, at its March 15 meeting.
The 45-day moratorium, which had expired, was approved with a 3-2 vote in November—Councilman Sam Allevato and Derek Reeve dissenting. At the council’s meeting last week, the motion for a year-long moratorium was approved 4-1, with Reeve still opposing.
Staff said the ordinance is intended to allow time for city staff to consider appropriate amendments to the city’s municipal code. Meanwhile, a Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee, led by Councilwoman Kerry Ferguson, has been tasked with reaching out to residents experiencing issues with nearby congregate living facilities, as well as area homes that seem to be functioning out of compliance with city code, in order to come up with potential solutions.
San Juan resident Warren Hanselman was one of 10 public speakers at the March 15 meeting who were in favor of the moratorium. Hanselman said since the residents of Paseo Terraza and Via Estelita initially petitioned for a temporary moratorium on sober living homes last fall, the issue has only propagated, with a third facility going in on Paseo Terraza.
Residents spoke of issues with parking problems and homes being run like “medical clinics where drugs are administered.” Residents referred to the situation as “ridiculous” and “anarchy,” and asked the council to help “the neighborhoods keep their character.”
While the council voiced sympathy and concern about the issues in San Juan’s neighborhoods, council members noted that much of the regulation needs to come from the state level, with proposed solutions being enforced and backed by the state. Councilman John Perry encouraged citizens to organize and “become a force” and make their concerns known to policymakers in Sacramento.