Sober Living Homes Debated in Clovis

January 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A group of concerned Clovis residents made their voices heard at a Planning Commission meeting Thursday night. They want tougher rules for sober living homes, and other licensed facilities that set up shop in residential areas. Commissioners admitted there wasn't much they could do because state law said transition and sober living homes can set up in residential neighborhoods. But they did make a small logistical change that some residents claim is better than the original plan.

Clovis city leaders said they've had about 5 inquiries in the last few months about setting up transition homes, sober living homes, and other licensed care facilities. The city said none are operating yet, but the sober living home proposed on Dennis Avenue between Shaw and Barstow has drawn a lot of ire at recent Clovis city council meetings.

Dozens of people protested, and Thursday night, the Clovis Planning Commission met to amend the ordinance that deals with these controversial homes.

"I'm not happy about having this in my neighborhood and 300 feet is really way too close," said Clovis resident Mary Costa.

The distance separating future licensed homes was a big concern. "Originally it was 300 feet but based on public comments commission is recommending that it be increased to 1,000 feet. So you can't have a sober living home next to another one they have to be at least 1,000 feet apart," said Clovis City Attorney David Wolfe.

Others are worried about the lack of regulation of these kinds of homes. And that burden would fall on Clovis Police; a department facing financial and staffing problems of its own.

"What we heard at this meeting is they think we should help enforce this. Well, there's going to be some level of enforcement I'm sure with people being verbal but some people are going to go to another level and you're going to have other problems because we all want to protect our family," said Clovis resident Dennis Spitzer.

A relative of the man who owns the home on Dennis Avenue that's caused some controversy denies that it's a group home or will be in the future.

The amended ordinance will now go before the Clovis City Council, which can approve it or send it back to the Planning Commission.

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