CSAC Bulletin Article

CSAC Opposes Bills Restricting Sober Living Homes

April 22, 2016

This week the legislature heard several bills on the siting of facilities for psychiatric patients and those struggling with substance use disorders. Each bill approached the issue of siting in a different way, but CSAC is opposed to all of them for the same reason: These facilities provide a critical health care service in the mental health and substance use disorder continuum of care.

The bills CSAC is opposing on sober living homes are described below:

SB 1283 by Senator Bates would authorize a city, county, or city and county, to enact an ordinance to register structured sober living homes. The bill defines a structured sober living homes as a place providing structured activities that are primarily directed towards recovery from substance abuse disorders in a supervised setting of unrelated adults who are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, and who are receiving outpatient behavioral health services for substance abuse or addiction treatment while living in the home. SB 1283 would not create a new category of state-licensed facility. SB 1283 was heard in the Senate Health Committee on April 20.

AB 2255 by Assembly Member Melendez would require a drug- and alcohol-free residence to meet certain requirement and to be certified by the Department of Health Care Services. AB 2255 passed out of the Assembly Health Committee on April 19 as amended and was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Its next hearing is not yet scheduled.

AB 2403 by Assembly Member Bloom would require the Department of Health Care Services to deny an application for a new facility license if the proposed location is in proximity to an existing facility that would cause overconcentration, with exception for when this would not conflict with city or county regulation. The bill defines overconcentration as two more alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities being separated by less than 300 feet, except for integral facilities. Additionally, AB 2403 would authorize a city, county, or city and county to request denial of a license on the basis of overconcentration.  AB 2403 passed out of the Assembly Health Committee on April 19 as amended and was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Its next hearing is not yet scheduled.

AB 1967 by Assembly Member Gaines would limit the siting of psychiatric facilities by prohibiting the legislative body of a city, county, or city and county from adopting an ordinance for the construction or operation of a health facility within 2,000 feet of a school or childcare facility, if the health facility is designated to accept patients taken into custody for a 72-hour evaluation and treatment hold. AB 1967 impinges on the existing land use authority of local governments by narrowing current land use and zoning law and unreasonably limits counties’ ability to ensure the availability of the proper level of mental health care and treatment in our communities. Further, limiting the location of psychiatric inpatient facilities based on the illness or health issue for which the patients are admitted is discriminatory and goes against state and federal parity laws that require mental illness to be treated as a health care issue. AB 1967 is currently scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee on April 27, 2016.


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