House Health Committee Passes Rehab Restriction Bill

Malibu City Hall

The City of Malibu this week won its first legislative battle in the war against residential rehab and drug treatment centers, after the California Assembly Committee on Health unanimously passed out a bill requiring such facilities to be spaced a minimum of 300 feet apart. The vote was 15-0 with four members absent or abstaining.

This spacing is designed to cut down on “overconcentration” of facilities, long a thorn in the side of Malibu residents who claim they’ve seen neighborhoods swallowed up by such facilities, operating on what supporters say are “loopholes within the existing laws.”

The committee met Tuesday to hear arguments on the bill, which came about in large part due to the efforts of Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Lou La Monte. The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom of District 50, who represents Malibu. It will now go on to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

According to the bill analysis, the proposed legislation would require the Department of Health Care Services to deny license applications for new facilities, “if the proposed location is within 300 feet of an existing facility.” If facilities within 300 feet of each other — so-called “integral facilities” — exist, the proposed bill “permits integral facilities to be subject to local regulations and ordinances as specified.”

In opposition to the bill, Promises Treatment Centers of California wrote, “the new definition of an ‘integral facility’ unravels long-standing state law designed to promote effective treatment strategies,” and calls the widely-spaced facilities an “inefficient model” for treatment.

La Monte announced at a February City Council meeting that the bill would be sponsored by Bloom and penned by City Attorney Christi Hogin.

“I have literally spent years trying to find the right combination of events to get this to happen,” La Monte said at the meeting.

The League of California Cities officially voiced support for the bill, according to documents from the California Legislative Council.

“I did an awful lot of research, and I came to find out it wasn’t just another whiny Malibu problem,” La Monte joked at the February meeting. A resolution from the League of California Cities, sponsored by La Monte, was passed, meaning “473 other cities that all have this same issue,” are represented by the bill.

Those in opposition to the bill include Cliffside Malibu and Promises, as well as County Behavioral Health Directors Association.

In addition to the League of California Cities, supporters of the proposed legislation include both the Los Angeles County Sheriffs and the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association, the County Health Executives Association of California and several individuals and municipalities.

A more extensive story may be found in the April 28 edition of The Malibu Times and updated online.