Two Sober Living Facilities Cause Stir with Neighbors

Neighbors from Forbes and Gerstle Park worry that two sober living facilities will cause parking problems and traffic congestion.

Residents from Forbes and Gerstle Park urged city council members to investigate two new sober living communities in the area, claiming that the new facilities will bring in a transient population that will have negative impacts on the neighborhood.

“What’s happening here could happen in any neighborhood,” said Steve Patterson, chair of the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods. “And it would be a total disaster for Culloden Park.”

In the beginning of February, a sober living facility that houses recovering alcoholics and drug addicts . For-profit business Bay Area Sober Living owns the facility and will not accept insurance or provide therapy for those who live in the house.

Since the facility won’t offer treatment, government regulations restricting the number of occupants do not apply, Bay Area Sober Living Manager Leo van Warmerdam told neighbors before the house opened. He plans to charge residents $4000 a month for a room and meals, and expects between 12 and 15 people to live at the house at one time.

Neighbors are concerned that the facility will cause problems with parking and traffic congestions in the area, which is zoned as residential.

“We are not opposed to a sober living facility,” neighbor Jane Sykes said. “This constitutes a boarding house.”

A similar facility exists on 201 Marin St. in Gerstle Park. Andrea Eneidi lives next door to the facility, which houses six to eight men at one time. The 201 Marin St. property was on the market for months and didn’t sell, she said. Eventually, it took down its “For Sale” sign and opened as a sober living house.

The City recently obtained a description of the Culloden property from van Warmerdam, and staff will be meeting on Feb. 24 to evaluate if the house complies with regulations, according to an email sent out by Planning Manager Paul Jensen. City officials will also inspect the Culloden property to see if it is up to code.

“This is a start, not an end,” Mayor Albert J. Boro assured the neighbors.


SOLSTICE February 27, 2011 at 08:06 PM
I lived in a sober living environment in San Francisco some years back and can tell you that is truly nothing more than a boarding house where the owners take advantage of people struggling with their early recovery. It's a cash cow for the owners and has the potential to be a drain on the neighborhood and the community. I'd call it a a 70-30 proposition for the owners and a 30-70 proposition for the neighborhood. It's your call, but if it was my neighborhood - I'd fight against it.
sally veauta January 24, 2012 at 07:48 PM
If these "homes" are truly "cash cows, I'm curious where the cash comes from; does it come from the tax payer or is it paid privately. A concerned Gerstle Park Resident - concerned for safety for our children, for all of us And admittedly for our property values. Sally Veauta


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