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California Briefing / NEWPORT BEACH

Recovery-homes lawsuit dropped

July 26, 2008|Susannah Rosenblatt

A citizens group that vocally opposes sober living homes in Newport Beach dropped its $250-million federal lawsuit against the city and City Council on Friday, city officials said.

Concerned Citizens of Newport Beach, which has been fighting against addiction recovery homes that they complain create noise, traffic and secondhand smoke, will instead focus on community education and political activism, said the group's chief executive, Denys Oberman.

"People look at this as a sign of defeat or failure," Oberman said. But "refocusing and revitalizing your strategy is something that's done by every organization."

Oberman said the group hopes to back new City Council candidates to replace those up for reelection, possibly launch a recall campaign and fight for greater transparency in city business.

City officials expressed relief that the suit was behind them. "We were spending a lot of money defending this case and defending the ordinance," said Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff, referring to the city's stringent new regulations for sober living homes.

He estimated that the city spent about $100,000 on the Concerned Citizens suit; Newport Beach still faces pending litigation involving other addiction service providers.

Concerned Citizens has settled or dismissed legal action against all but one of the recovery home providers named in its suit; the group is still "evaluating" legal proceedings against Sober Living by the Sea, the city's largest provider.

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