City Planner John Conley explained permissive zoning and the Vista council moved to clarify legal language last night, but that was after a public recognition and congratulations given to Fire Deputy Chief Ned Vander Pol for completion of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Officer Program and approval of the consent calendar items.
The Mayor thanked Deputy Chief Ned Vander Pol and posed for pictures.
‘Dope’ code work
Stating that the issue for this amendment was previously heard by the Planning Commission and recommended for approval, Conley further explained things to the council. “There’s been some ongoing legal work that the City’s undertaken in an effort to address some of the marijuana-related land uses in the city, businesses that are either distributing or selling medical marijuana. And in an effort to address those businesses we’re bringing this code amendment forward to clarify that if that use is not listed within the code, as permitted use, then it is outlawed.”
Council voiced their thoughts on the matter.
Councilmember Amanda Rigby zeroed in on the possible loopholes she did not want, those regarding mobile businesses which would not be covered by land-use ordinances.” I’m thinking that’s a loophole we should probably close.” She believed people might find “creative ways” around the ordinance.
When Conley replied that staff could “certainly come back with some code amendments to address that issue,” Rigby replied she wanted that done, the Mayor seconded. Councilman John Franklin agreed with Rigby, and he asked that Vista be “absolutely sure” that Vista is protected from “unsavory business” that brings “all kinds of crime” with it. He mentioned the State of California as possibly be a problem in the future.
Councilmember Cody Campbell chose a “pragmatic approach” and differed with his colleagues, although he mentioned he was not opposed to regulation. He said, however, that the people of the State of California want medical marijuana available. “We spend hundreds of thousands of [taxpayer] dollars,” he said during his explanation on the matter. But he doesn’t believe in fighting the state on this. “At some point we have to be good stewards” Campbell stated, “not only with tax dollars, but [also of] our community that we represent.”
The county had spent a lot of money on fighting the state as well, and he did not wish to go down that road. Just saying ‘we don’t want it,’ was not going to work in Campbell’s opinion. “The city attorney may disagree with me on this, but I think trying to ban mobile sales … is a slippery legal slope that will almost certainly be a state challenge … which will drag us into another protracted legal issue and I don’t know about you but I feel that we have more important problems in the city to spend our money on then fighting an issue that we will lose either next year, or the following year. But sometime very soon.”
Campbell said he would vote no on the issue. Mayor Judy Ritter replied that, even though she had a sister who passed away from cancer, she was able to get medical marijuana from her doctor.
Rigby in her following remarks said “…. you shouldn’t have to go buy it from a mobile store that goes around and around.” Doctors could give a prescription for it to patients, she acknowledged, but in speaking to a State legislator on the matter, she wonders why the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to their own law against it. “When is the federal government going to step in and regulate medical use marijuana like they do for every other form of medicine?” There are banking and financial issues that go with it all as well, said Rigby. “This whole situation is actually a public safety issue,” stated Rigby. “When you have businesses that are not allowed under federal law to have bank accounts and have a place to put their money, they’re rotating their entire volume of cash [into] different places throughout the day. That’s a danger to our public safety and to our streets, as we had evidence here before.”
In the end, council voted 3-1 to approve.