Neighbors Oppose Recovery Home

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A meeting held Tuesday to discuss a recently established home
for recovering substance abusers on Brandy Court in Hollister did
little to comfort neighbors of the home, who are now looking into
ways to have the establishment shut down.
Hollister – A meeting held Tuesday to discuss a recently established home for recovering substance abusers on Brandy Court in Hollister did little to comfort neighbors of the home, who are now looking into ways to have the establishment shut down.

Representatives of San Benito Recovery Homes say that the home, which they opened about two months ago, is a strict, controlled environment and does not increase the possibility of crime in the neighborhood. Residents, however, say they were never informed that the home was opening and have concerns ranging from the safety of their children, and the children who attend a daycare in the neighborhood, to their property values.

“Frankly, members of the cul-de-sac met, and we came to the conclusion that we don’t want you there,” Brandy Court resident Sergio Garcia said to Yolanda Valverde and Susan Drehobl of San Benito Recovery Homes on Tuesday.

Drehobl, director of operations, said that the home presents no danger to the neighborhood, and it does not accept violent felons or sexual abusers. The home, she said, is designed to help people who have gone through inpatient treatment for substance abuse transition back into the general population without falling back into their old habits.

“Our goal is to assist people after treatment, to give them some living skills to go back to their homes here in Hollister,” said Valverde, owner of San Benito Recovery Homes.

But neighbors’ concerns were not eased.

“My concern is that this is a rather small cul-de-sac. We are so close here,” said Mark Monk, who has lived on Brandy Court for about four years. “We’re not against the house, it just needs to be placed in a bigger place.”

Though the majority of the approximately 40 people who attended Tuesday’s meeting were there to speak against the recovery home being located in their neighborhood, some spoke in support.

“I certainly can understand your concern, but you can’t choose your neighbors,” said Ridgemark resident Nancy Jahsman. “These people want to be there. They want to be clean and sober. They need a clean place, a safe place. I hope you can give it a chance.”

Opponents are now weighing their legal options.

“We may need to seek legal guidance,” Monk said after the meeting, reiterating that he and his neighbors fear that having a concentration of people with substance abuse problems in their cul-de-sac can result in problems.

“Those fears are valid,” Sheriff Curtis Hill said. “If they’re not run in a proper manner with accountability for people going through the program, I’ve seen these places become a problem.”

Hill recalled that there was a similar home in Hollister in the early 1990s that became a constant problem for neighbors and law enforcement.

“We were out frequently with parole agents, assault calls – those issues,” he said. “They are all well-meaning, good people running these. But when you get people with substance abuse issues, the problems they have come with them.”

Though Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz, who represents Brandy Court and set up Tuesday’s meeting, has not taken a stance in favor or opposition of the home, he said that he also has concerns about the recovery home.

“First, it affects a decline in property values,” he said. “The other issue, there’s a community inside a community. It’s going to disrupt that environment,” adding that he is concerned that the existence of the home might hurt the daycare business located in the cul-de-sac.

Residents have also told De La Cruz that they push the home out of their neighborhood.

“They have expressed that they are going to work as hard as they can to remove it from there and find a location,” he said.

Luke Roney covers politics and the environment for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 335 or at [email protected]

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