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Malibu Fights Back Against Rehab Rule

Local officials say the swanky facilities are driving down the neighborhood's quality of life.

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By McCarton Ackerman

07/01/13

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Malibu's growing number of high-end rehabs may provide their residents with peace and quiet—but they aren't helping the neighbors relax. Locals say the area is now monopolized by these high-end facilities, which have housed recovering celebs like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Charlie Sheen, often charging upwards of $30,000 per month for treatment services that may include acupuncture, equine therapy and five-star dining. But residents and city officials claim that the rehabs disregard local laws, are held to little accountability to the state and have turned the town into a haven for paparazzi, overall diminishing their quality of life. Local officials also object to these treatment centers changing the scope of the neighborhood by buying adjacent and nearby homes. "Some of them believe that they don't have to blend into the neighborhood, and instead the neighborhood should blend in with them," says Malibu mayor Joan House. "They're being rugged cowboys and doing what they want, and that is unacceptable." Malibu city councilman Lou La Monte says there is now one rehab for every 800 people in the town, while city officials have received rehab-related complaints that include noise disturbances, public safety concerns and the occasional patient wandering in a daze down the street.

The city filed a complaint last May against Passages Malibu, claiming they tacked on fake addresses to pool houses and guesthouses in order to get additional facilities licensed. Officials requested that the Department of Drug and Alcohol programs (ADP)—the state agency responsible for policing drug rehab homes—would revoke licenses for three Passages homes due to being "obtained through misrepresentation." But Passages denied any wrongdoing. "I believe that much of the fervor would subside if the ADP would take a firm stand to protect these facilities and make known its intention to abide by the current legislation rather than to sympathize with the few communities who feel they have too many," wrote Passages co-founder Chris Prentiss. La Monte says he is prepared to continue battling with Passages and other Malibu rehabs in violation, declaring: "We are going to take our town back."

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