The City of Newport Beach has agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a group of recovery residences. In the case, Pacific Shores et. al. v. City of Newport Beach, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the city had intentionally and unlawfully targeted recovery residences in a law it passed in 2008. The Sober Living Network, NARR’s Southern California affiliate, was extensively involved in the case.

The Ninth Circuit found ample evidence of discriminatory intent, including an effort to “reverse engineer” a discriminatory law to target recovery residences. That finding was significant, since the legislation avoided any direct references to recovering individuals or to recovery residences that were the target of the law. (Read the Ninth Circuit’s opinion (PDF))

According to informed estimates, this case cost the City of Newport Beach well over $10 million over the seven year course of trying to defend its actions. The message for cities is becoming clear: discrimination is costly when vulnerable people gain the knowledge and ability to fight for their rights.

Read more about the settlement in the Orange County Register.