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Group Homes and Sober Living Homes

INTRODUCTION

On July 20, 2020, the Huntington Beach City Council adopted the Group Homes Ordinance [Ordinance Nos. 4214, 4212, 4215, 4216, and 4213] approving amendments to the Huntington Beach Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance (HBZSO) and Municipal Code (HBMC) which established a set of regulations for Group Homes, Sober Living Homes, and Residential Care Facilities affecting Residential Districts citywide.

In its actions, the City Council intends to strike an appropriate balance between the interests of the City and its residents to preserve residential neighborhood character, and the need to provide housing accommodations to disabled persons, including those in recovery from addiction to reside in normalized residential environments that promote effective recovery.

Further, the Ordinance aims to preserve the residential character of single-family residential neighborhoods and to further the purposes of State law, by, among other things:

USE CLASSIFICATIONS

To provide for the regulation of Group Homes, including Sober Living Homes, the Ordinance established four (4) new use classifications in HBZSO Chapter 204 Use Classifications. They are summarized below in order to introduce and differentiate each classification.

     A.  Group Home (GH)
          A residential unit utilized as a supportive living environment for people meeting
          the legal definition of disabled.
            Provides housing only for a classified group of people. No medical care,
              services, or treatment can take place in a Group Home
                   ο  Only State licensed facilities can provide care, services, or
                       treatment under State law (see C. Residential Care Facilities)
 
     B.  Sober Living Home (SLH)
          Sober Living Homes are also Group Homes, but specifically for people
          recovering from a chemical addiction that meet the legal definition of
          disabled.
            Provides housing only that is primarily meant for people who have just
              come out of rehab and need a place to live that is structured and supportive
              for those in recovery.
            For the purposes of the Ordinance, a Sober Living Home is not state
              licensed.
            No medical care, services, or treatment can occur in a Sober Living Home
                   ο  Only State licensed facilities can provide care, services, or
                       treatment under State law (see C. Residential Care Facilities)
 
     C.  Residential Care Facilities (RCF)
          A State Licensed residential facility where care, services, or treatment are
          provided to persons living in a community residential setting.
               Provide housing and care/treatment for the elderly, developmentally
                 disabled, chronically ill, and chemical addiction treatment facilities, among
                 others.
               RCFs that specifically provide drug and or alcohol abuse treatment are
                 licensed by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and are
                 known as alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities.
                      ο  Homes are required to be licensed by the DHCS when at least one
                          of the following services is provided: detoxification, group counseling
                          sessions, individual counseling sessions, educational sessions, or
                          alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment planning.    
 
     D.  Referral Facility
          Either a Residential Care Facility, Group Home, or Sober Living Home where
          one or more person’s residency is per a court order or similar directive.
          Referral facilities must follow the permit procedure according to the base use
          classification, and are not permitted in the RL (Residential Low Density) zone.

REGULATIONS

The Ordinance regulations require Group Homes, including Sober Living Homes, to obtain permits to operate in a manner consistent with the nature of the single-family residential neighborhoods in which they are located. The following summary outlines the permit requirements for each facility type:   
 
     1.  A Group Home or Sober Living Home with six (6) or fewer residents:
            In all Residential districts, requires a ministerial Special Use Permit (SUP)
              from the Community Development Director; and
            Any SLH shall be one thousand (1000) feet from any other property that
              contains a GH, SLH, or RCF pursuant to HBZSO Chapter 230.28.
            Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.        
 
     2.  A Group Home or Sober Living Home with seven (7) or more residents:
            Not permitted in the RL (Residential Low Density) zone
            In all other Residential Districts, requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP)
             from the Planning Commission; and
                  ο     An Operator’s Permit that complies with Huntington Beach Municipal
                        Code (HBMC) Section 5.110; and
                  ο    The GH or SLH (with 7 or more residents) shall be one thousand
                        (1000) feet from any other property that contains a GH or SLH.
                  ο    An applicant for a GH or SLH may seek relief from strict application
                        of the above requirements by applying for reasonable accommodation
                        pursuant to Huntington Beach Municipal Code (HBMC) Chapter 17.77.
                  ο    Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
     3.  Referral Facilities are not permitted in the RL zone; and
            No Referral Facility may be located:
                 ο     Within five hundred (500) feet of property that is zoned either RL
                        or Specific Plan Residential Low Density, or
                 ο     Within five hundred (500) feet of a school, park, place of worship,
                        or licensed day care facility.
            Referral Facilities must have an on-site manager 24/7
            Referral Facilities may not admit a resident convicted of specific crimes

     4.  Certain Residential Care Facilities are permitted and certain Residential Care
          Facilities require a CUP from the Planning Commission. Please refer to HBZSO
          Chapter 210.04 Land Use Controls, Additional Provision (T). 
  1. Unlicensed Residential Care Facilities are not permitted in any residentially zoned district.
  1. State licensed Residential Care Facilities serving six (6) or fewer residents are permitted in all Residential districts.
  1. State licensed Residential Care Facilities serving seven (7) or more residents in all Residential districts require a CUP from the Planning Commission.

APPLICATIONS 

     A.  To apply for a Group Home or Sober Living Home serving seven (7) or more
          residents, please fill out an application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) by
          the Planning Commission using the General Planning Application Form:
 
          General Planning Application Form
          Application Fee: $5,051
         
         Operators of a Group Home or Sober Living Home that receive approval of a
         Conditional Use Permit, an Operator’s Permit is required prior to issuance of a
         Business License:
 
         Operator's Permit Application Form
         Application Fee: $2,325
  1. To apply for a Group Home or Sober Living Home serving six (6) or fewer residents, please fill out an application for a Special Use Permit:
         Special Use Permit Application Form
         Application Fee: $1,858
 
Please direct any questions to the Community Development Department at 
714-536-5271 or via email at community.[email protected].

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City of Huntington Beach
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Huntington Beach, CA
Phone: (714) 536-5271
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