Planning Commission Favors Indoor Growth Only

A proposed medical marijuana ordinance that Elk Grove City Council members wanted to be the most stringent in California is on the agenda for the Feb. 8 council meeting.

Sticky, sweet-smelling sublime bud!

Last September, the council directed staff to craft an ordinance that restricts growing medical marijuana for cardholders but still follows state law.

“I say that we strive to have the strictest, most burdensome policy in California,” Council Member Gary Davis said then.

Council members indicated a preference for limiting cultivation to detached and secured outbuildings in residential backyards, which is what the city of Corning currently allows.

Current Elk Grove Mayor and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Cooper said at the Sept. 28 council meeting he was concerned about fires if the marijuana were grown indoors or outdoors in the open.

However, council members, after reviewing summaries of ordinances from Rancho Cordova, Chico, Rocklin, and Fort Bragg left the door open to consider growth inside a residence.

The Elk Grove Planning Commission discussed the matter on Dec. 15 and decided on Jan. 5 to advise the council to only allow medical marijuana to be grown indoors within the city.

Commissioners suggested changes to the proposed ordinance that include limiting the indoor growing operation to 50 square feet, forbidding cultivation in bedrooms, and requiring ventilation and filtration systems for grow rooms.

Cultivation also cannot occur within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or public park. That distance and those facilities are similar to the city’s sex offender ordinance. Also, a qualified patient or the primary caregiver must live on site.

Planning Commissioner Brian Villanueva said at the Jan. 5 meeting the proposed multi-page ordinance is more prohibitive than restrictive.

“It seems to me the objective of an ordinance is to get compliance,” he said. “The goal should be compliance and not turning thumbscrews, and I fear we are turning thumbscrews.”

However, Commission Chair Fedolia “Sparky” Harris said the proposed ordinance follows state law and the “spirit” of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. He said he only favored indoor cultivation for safety reasons.

“We have people going out there and stealing catalytic converters off of cars so they can mine the precious metals,” Harris said. “How easy is it for someone to look over the fence and see a Tuff Shed with some really fancy ventilation and filtration system on it?”

He added, “I know exactly what’s in there, and it’s worth a whole lot more than a catalytic converter, which is going to put people’s family and property at risk. [Indoor growth only] seems like a safer alternative.”

Council members at the Feb. 8 meeting will also receive a mid-year budget review and amend the fiscal year budget for 2011-12.

Staff indicated the general fund is operating at its budgeted level, but the revenue sources have been lower or higher than originally anticipated.

The city has so far in 2011-12 received $5.4 million in sales tax revenue, which makes up about one-third of the city’s general fund. Staff said that is consistent with the budgeted projections.

However, staff said property tax revenue could be flat or slightly down compared to the 2010-11 fiscal year, when final receipts from Sacramento County were about $800,000 below the city’s projections.

Staff anticipates a similar shortfall for the current fiscal year.

Another item on the council agenda is an update on the proposed soundwall project on East Stockton Boulevard just north of Elk Grove Regional Park.

Council members are also poised to select Sacramento Self-Help Housing to provide transitional housing services. The organization was the only one to submit a bid to manage and own a house that the city plans to purchase and rehabilitate to help get homeless people off Elk Grove’s streets.

The Feb. 8 council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the council chambers, 8400 Laguna Palms Way.

News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Source: Elk Grove Citizen
Author: Bryan M. Gold
Copyright: 2012 Herburger Publications