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People seek regulation on ‘group homes’ in San Clemente

Take Action SC
Laura Yang holds a sign on May 28 on the corner of Avenida Pico and Avenida Presidio asking San Clmenete City Council to regulate group homes. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz 

On May 28, a group of homeowners and stakeholders in San Clemente gathered at the corner of Avenida Pico and Avenida Presidio to gain awareness of their effort to have City Council pass an ordinance regarding “group homes.”

The group has collected more than 1,500 signatures for its petition, according to its website, of its goal of 2,500.

These group homes have been defined by the organization Take Action San Clemente as residences that have multiple people who are living together who are not biologically related, some of which may be acting as sober-living homes, TASC members said.

There have been complaints of overt debris, such as cigarette butts strewn around the area, loud profanity, fights and constant 9-1-1 calls to the homes. Members claim in the last year the number of group homes has grown from 40 to 100 in San Clemente.

Concrete data on the number of homes that have sprung up in San Clemente could not be found before press time, but in the last week the San Clemente Times was told by organizers that the number of group homes has more than doubled in the last year.

Bernie Wohlforth, one of the de facto leaders of the group, said this issue has been a problem for many southern and coastal California communities for some time.

“San Clemente has been dealing with this for two or three years, and in the last year it’s become an even greater issue,” Wohlforth said.

Wohlforth said in his neighborhood there are five group homes all within the same block of each other, but he said he doesn’t claim they’re sober-living homes. He said more reports of clustering of the homes come in constantly.

“We see the biggest issue as there’s no enforceable regulation,” he said. “We understand and value somebody who wants to get clean, get sober, get help…We support that.”

The group members said they don’t want to have anyone living in these homes unreasonably displaced, but they said they want regulation so the homes are not as clustered as they are now.

City council members can direct an item to be placed on the regular meeting agenda for consideration, and any citizen can request an item to be on the agenda, City Clerk Joanne Baade said.

Group members said because the city of Newport Beach sober-living home case that reached the California Supreme Court, they want to make sure the regulations are in compliance with state and federal law in order to enforce any law City Council could pass.

City staff members said people who have had issues within the city in regard to what they believe are code infractions can contact San Clemente’s Code Compliance Services at 949.366.4705 or visit


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comments (7)

  • Keep R-1 neighborhoods R-1!! Multiple people, all unrelated, living together is NOT R-1 regardless of what the State Legislators say! R-1 is single family –period. Let’s keep R-1. R-1!!

  • I am interested in donating my time and expertise to help these folks understand the law they propose. Paul Dumont, Volunteer Housing Rights Advocate – The Sober Living Network

  • wait until they figure out most of the patients are in those homes , in lieu of going to jail for a crime

  • I just signed that petition. Our neighborhood has been infested with vehicle, porch and parcel larceny since group homes moved in.

  • paul i lived next to one of these homes, it was two apartment buildings side by side full of court ordered patients .always rude and abusive over crowded with brand new faces every week there needs to be some kind of control and limit .watching 45 men trying to proposition the same little 12 year old girl , screaming and hollering and loitering out front throwing cigg butts about was abusive

    . at least once a month we would get someone on the property looking in a window or picking a fight its out of control where do you live paul

  • To understand the legal limitations on regulating sober housing see the Newport Beach case

comments (7)

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