Tuesday, July 3, 2012

San Leandro Tables Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban After Appellate Ruling

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | A ruling by the California Second Court of Appeals Monday afternoon overturning a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern California led the San Leandro City Council to remove its own proposed ordinance from Monday night's agenda.

City Attorney Jayne Williams recommended the council allow staff additional time to reconcile the potential fallout from the appellate court ruling. A moratorium on medical cannabis dispensaries in San Leandro is currently in place and expires Sept. 30. Williams, who said she received notice of the court ruling just hours before Monday’s meeting, highlighted a few of the revelation findings pertaining to San Leandro’s latest attempt to snuff out dispensaries within its city limits.

Although, the decision could still be appealed by Los Angeles County, the appellate courts ruling could make it difficult for municipalities to ban dispensaries on the basis of zoning rules or nuisance laws. Local jurisdictions cannot adopt a complete ban of medical cannabis dispensaries, according to Williams’ reading of the decision, and would be preempted by medical marijuana laws currently on the books in California. The opinion also found the intent of the laws was not to shield municipalities from conforming with Proposition 219.

“In light of this development I would recommend that the council postpone the introduction of the proposed ordinance to a later to date,” said Williams. That date may come as early as the council’s next scheduled meeting on July 16 or following its August recess on Sept. 2. If the court’s ruling Monday is also appealed, it could potentially be added to three pending case scheduled to be heard early next year by the California Supreme Court, according to Williams.

The council was due to discuss a potential one-year ordinance with a June 30, 2013 sunset clause banning medical cannabis dispensaries in San Leandro. Medical cannabis’ reprieve may be short lived, though. “We’re obviously going to have to do something because we can’t ban it,” said Councilwoman Diana Souza, “ so we’re going to have to come up with some kind of ordinance within the next two months or leave it open.”

CONSULTANT FOR BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT APPROVED As of late, San Leandro has been big on searching for alternative ways to provide services in the post-redevelopment economy. In San Leandro it’s all about partnering with the business community. The council on Monday night approved a consulting contract with New City America, Inc. to study a proposed property-based business improvement district for its downtown at a cost no greater than $65,000.

It works like this: Property owners, not business owners, on San Leandro’s traditional downtown around East 14th Street, in addition to a swath of properties encompassing Doolittle Drive to the west have a weighted voting interest. If approved, the county would assess an additional tax from the property owner and transfer the proceeds to the business district. The revenue is then used by the district for a variety of functions, including sprucing up the area though maintenance and security and promoting downtown events.

Twenty-two assessments districts reside in Oakland, according to staff, including Jack London Square and Rockridge. Because 15-20 percent of the potential district is city-owned properties, City Hall would still have a say in how the district is run. However, according to staff, most of those properties are parking lots with presumably low assessment values and therefore, less power in the weighted structure of the district.

STAROSCIAK SUPPORTS WIND TURBINE Just minutes before effectively resigning from the council, Starosciak made it clear she supports the controversial wind turbine in her district near San Lorenzo Creek. "I'm very much in support of this project," she said, while maintaining Louis Rigaud, the owner of Halus Power Systems did much of the community outreach on his own without prompting from the city.

During a Heron Bay Homeowners Association meeting last month, nearly 100 irate homeowners voiced concern over potentially having the single wind turbine in their backyards and the city’s inaction in getting the word out. "It was really hard to watch the process knowing he was trying to be a good businessman, helping the environment," Starosciak said Monday.

She also added the arguments posed by the group of homeowners last month were “not rational.” The issue will likely come before the Board of Zoning and Adjustments in September after an additional 30-day public comment period was granted by the city.

NOTES City Manager Chris Zapata gave the council a preview of potential work sessions coming this fall. They include, a local business retention workshop, an overview of public safety concerns and an update on transportation issues related to construction on the city’s freeway interchanges, work downtown and the major transportation ballot measure on the November ballot.


Regarding Ms Starosciak's uncharitable shot at heron bay residents, wasn't the direct quote actually "rational", rather than "rationale"?

Does this exiting council member seriously believe that most people would welcome a wind turbine twirling away in an endangered species bird refuge, direct migratory path for nearly a million birds, and, of course, encourage the precedent for how many more spinning gyros in, what up till now, has been a safe and natural wetlands for wildfowl?

Let's be real here, getting that first variance approved only clears the path for countless more.

Residents in Joyce's own district are not rational? Sounds like a politician about to abandon her constituents. Oh, that's exactly what she did.

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