By Steve Plunkett
Boca Raton and Delray Beach are tracking a bill in the Florida Senate that would establish rules for a “sober house transitional living home.”
The proposal by state Sen. Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, would require supervision of the residents of such a home, require that it comply with standards of occupancy set by the local government and provide restrictions on the provision of onsite substance abuse treatment services.
Boca Raton City Manager Leif Ahnell said the city has “significant concerns” with the bill, SB 1026, as does Delray Beach, “because it would significantly alter how sober homes are treated and make them a lot more possible in our community.” Ahnell said he and his Delray Beach counterparts are monitoring the bill’s progress in Tallahassee.
“We may be writing letters in opposition to that bill, to the League of Cities, who’s currently supporting the bill but we don’t believe understands it, depending on how it gets amended,’’ Ahnell told City Council members at their Jan. 24 meeting.
Council Member Michael Mullaugh said the county League of Cities does not support Bogdanoff’s bill, “but they haven’t been able to convince the state people.’’
“So we want to be careful in the letter to make it clear that the Palm Beach County League of Cities does understand … this bill is no bill at all,’’ Mullaugh said. “It’s truly a disaster.’’
In a letter dated Jan. 23, Delray Beach Mayor Woodie McDuffie specified his city’s concerns. The bill, he wrote Bogdanoff and the Florida League of Cities, provides that “treatment, including ‘Detoxification,’ may take place in single-family zoning districts.”
The bill would also allow a sober house in single-family districts to have up to six unrelated residents, McDuffie complained.
“Based on the foregoing, we believe that if Proposed SB1026 passes, it will be more harmful than helpful,” McDuffie concluded.
The state League of Cities downgraded its position on the bill from “Support” to “Watch” in its Jan. 27 Legislative Bulletin. Bogdanoff sponsored a similar bill in the 2011 legislative session; it died in committee.
In the 2010 legislative session then-state Sen. Dave Aronberg introduced an amendment with input from Delray Beach and Boca Raton that would have prevented a sober house from opening within 1,000 feet of another sober house. The amendment was later dropped on a point of order.
By Steve Plunkett