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Legislation Proposes to Reform Outdated Regulations for Licensed Drug or Alcohol Abuse Recovery Treatment Facilities

March 12, 2018
Cities concerned about how to help maintain residential neighborhoods as a therapeutic environment for the social integration of people recovering from addiction should join the League in supporting AB 3162 (Friedman). 
 
This legislation would reform outdated regulations for the licensing of residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities. The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) under AB 3162 would be given authority to ensure that these facilities comply with existing licensing laws.
 
Important Provisions
 
This bill would clarify existing law and enables DHCS to enforce its policies by specifying that all services under a license must be carried out at the specific physical location of the license and allows DHCS to deny a new license application if a facility is located within 300 feet of an existing facility. It would also establishes a one-year provisional license to serve as a probationary period for new licenses so that DHCS has time to analyze and determine compliance with regulations.
 
In addition, AB 3162 would update fines for non-compliance to be more commensurate with similar licensing fines. This provision addresses the fact that currently fines and penalties are set at a low enough level that operators often opt to pay fines. Increasing the fines and penalties to be more commensurate with similar licensing fines will help provide an additional incentive for companies to comply with the law and provide the needed care for the patients.
 
Background
 
Residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities provide valuable rehabilitation and supportive services in a therapeutic environment, which can benefit both individual patients and the greater community. However, under existing regulations, residential licensing does not require that services permitted under a residential license are provided solely at the location where the state license is issued.
 
Because of this loophole, some licensees buy multiple houses in neighborhoods, often next door to each other, and combining services at multiple addresses to take advantage of economies of scale and make additional profits. The over-concentrated campus style facilities change the character of a neighborhood, causing it to become more similar to busy commercial center. When this occurs, the campus style facilities eliminate a vital benefit to the patient, which is to become part of the fabric of a community. 
 
Next Steps  
 
The League urges all cities to review AB 3162 and support this measure because it is a modest proposal that helps DHCS close a loophole in existing law and ensures that there is not an over concentration of drug and alcohol treatment facilities in residential neighborhoods.
 
AB 3162 has not yet been referred to a committee for hearing.
 
A sample letter is available for cities to use in supporting AB 3161. The full text of the measure along with the League’s support letter can be found at www.cacities.org/billsearch by plugging AB 3162 into the search function.
 


 
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