SUPPORT THIS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.
Article updated 9:50 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15
By Eric Heinz
According to officials with the city of San Clemente and Sovereign Health, the two entities have settled their respective lawsuits. The city sued Sovereign over complaints and code violations in Orange County Superior Court last year, and Sovereign sued the city in federal court for what it alleged as violations of fair housing laws.
“Both state and federal cases have been dismissed, and neither parties are paying (any fees),” said Haroon Ahmad, a spokesperson from Sovereign. “The city hasn’t forced us to leave, but they want us to uphold the zoning laws that we will and we have been. Nothing bad has happened…It’s win-win for both parties.”
Ahmad also said Sovereign has been a “benefit to the city,” as it employs a large number of people. The company is a behavioral and mental health treatment business that has on-site treatment as well as boarding homes for its clients in San Clemente.
Ahmad said he was not authorized to disclose some of the details of the settlement.
“The information I can share is Sovereign Health and the city of San Clemente have come to an agreement and (Sovereign is) not going anywhere,” Ahmad said. “Our headquarters is located in San Clemente, we have several licensed homes in the city and we plan to grow with the support from Mayor Kathy Ward and San Clemente’s City Council Members.”
Ward later issued a statement following the publication of this article in the Thursday, Sept. 14-20, edition of the San Clemente Times.
“Sovereign’s statement should not imply that I, as mayor, the City Council or the city of San Clemente supports its growth,” Ward stated.
“It remains the same. Sovereign Health continues to ask for the sealed warrant to be unsealed,” Ahmad said. “What is the FBI hiding? The national behavioral health system is alleging that the sealed affidavit authorizing the raid contained false and misleading information.”
City Attorney Scott Smith said the ordinances in San Clemente “regulating short-term residences and counseling service zoning remain in effect.”
Article updated to include comments from Mayor Kathy Ward.