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Community weighs in on proposed drug and alcohol rehab facility in Morro Bay

Posted at 7:09 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-20 00:38:33-05

A drug and alcohol rehab facility could soon be coming to a Morro Bay neighborhood.

The supportive housing project is proposed for 2460 Main St. and would include 27 rooms that would house people struggling with addiction on a voluntary basis.

The facility would be open 24 hours a day.

Rodeway Inn currently sits at that location and the owner says his motel business has taken a hit during the pandemic. He is hoping to change it from a motel to a detox facility to help community members.

However, many people who live in this area are not on board with the change and said they had little to no heads up about the project which is expected to be approved next week.

Ashley Smith lives within 700 feet from the motel so she was notified of the project via mail last Thursday.

She has concerns about its proximity to Morro Bay High School and Del Mar Elementary.

“Kids are walking by that facility a few times a day to get to get to school and during lunch and after too,” Smith said.

The project was proposed in December to the city planning commission, but Smith says she wasn’t made aware of it until weeks later.

"I feel like the transparency about this project wasn't there from the start in terms of letting the rest of the city know,” Smith said.

Brian Der Vartanian, the owner of Rodeway Inn Motel, said the detox facility is far enough away from downtown, easily accessible to those in need, and will be professionally staffed.

“There will be licensed individuals and it will be tightly monitored, same as a hospital or treatment center,” Der Vartanian said.

Der Vartanian’s company, soon to be called Morro Bay Recovery, is currently based in Los Angeles.

He hopes people look past the stigma of these facilities.

“We are going to treat people. We are not going to give them drugs,” he said. “We are going to make them part of society back where they belong."

Across the parking lot of the motel, Maya Restaurant employees are worried about safety and business impacts.

“I have nothing against people trying to rehabilitate, but this is not the location for it,” server Mary Smith said.

City leaders say their hands are tied.

“We are in a position where by-right, we have to approve this administrative item which means no public hearing, no city council, no planning commission hearing by state law,” Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins said. “There's not a lot we can do about it at this point. We just want to make sure moving forward that it's done well.”

The city is encouraging the owner to reach out to community members as the approval deadline approaches.

The deadline to submit public comments to the planning commission is Saturday, February 20. The planning commission is set to make a decision the following Tuesday.

The city says appeals can be submitted if the project is approved.