SH Planning Commission proposes ban on marijuana business activity

In light of Prop. 64, it also recommends ban on outdoor cultivation for personal use and regulating indoor planting

Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune
“Birdhouse City,” displayed at the Oct. 17 Signal Hill Planning Commission meeting, created by students in the After-School Recreation Club as a National Community Planning Month activity

Marijuana regulation
Pursuant to Proposition 64, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed in November 2016, the Signal Hill Planning Commission considered a resolution at its Oct. 17 meeting recommending that the city council approve a zoning-ordinance amendment prohibiting all commercial marijuana activities and personal-use outdoor cultivation, and establish “reasonable” regulations for personal indoor cultivation of marijuana, as allowed by the new law.

The commission also hosted a public hearing to receive public comment on these amendments, though there was none.

Senior planner Colleen Doan shared with the commission that the City had banned medical-marijuana dispensaries in 2011 and in 2015 prohibited cultivation and delivery services, following the passage of additional laws.

“The council noted that Long Beach had dispensaries, and so there was no hardship for residents with medical need,” Doan said. “The intent was that the City could avoid […] legal costs related to efforts to regulate.”

Since Prop. 64 was passed in November 2016 legalizing the recreational, or “adult,” use of marijuana, the City must now formally adopt regulations for such use by Jan. 1, 2018.

“[Prop. 64] establishes a state-licensing system, but the State will not issue a license if local governments prohibit a use,” Doan explained.

Doan further explained that, following a Sept. 12 workshop on the topic, the city council had asked the city attorney to prepare coding amendments to prohibit all commercial activities and outdoor cultivation and to regulate indoor cultivation, subject to approval by the Planning Commission.

“Council has also appointed a subcommittee to study options for future regulation but wanted to maintain its local control in the meantime,” Doan said.

After consideration, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to adopt the resolution recommending that the city council impose marijuana prohibitions and regulations.

The recommendations include prohibiting retail sales, manufacturing, cultivation, testing, distribution and deliveries of marijuana in all zoning districts citywide.

Since local governments are also allowed to regulate the cultivation of marijuana plants for personal use, the commission recommended that the council do that as well.

“Local governments may reasonably regulate, but not prohibit, indoor personal cultivation,” Doan explained. “They may prohibit outdoor cultivation.”

Proposed amendments regarding indoor cultivation would be included under Title 20 of the city code on zoning.

“[Residents] have to obtain a no-fee permit if they’re going to cultivate,” Doan explained. “If they’re a tenant, they need to show that the property owner is aware, and [the amendment] limits the number of plants to six plants total, which is what the law allows.”

For its information only, and to allow public comment at the meeting, staff also presented the commission with a second-ordinance amendment to the city code that the city council will consider, which affects Title 5 of the city code on “Business Taxes, Licenses and Regulations” and Title 9 on “Public Peace, Morals and Welfare.”

“[This second ordinance amendment] adds Chapter 5.15 to add definitions and to specifically note the 20 types of prohibited uses that are in Prop. 64 that would otherwise be allowed if not codified. It codifies violations and penalties,” Doan stated. “It also adds Chapter 9.50, which adds definitions to and prohibits outdoor cultivation. And it allows and regulates the limited indoor cultivation.”

Director of Community Development Scott Charney explained that these are the codes police officers would cite for infractions.

Official emails
Planning commissioners will now have official email addresses to use for City business instead of their personal email addresses.

Charney indicated that use of official email addresses is considered a best practice.

“The city attorney’s recommendation is that we don’t utilize personal emails for business purposes because then all of your personal emails are subject to review during a public-records request,” he said.

Planning Month
In light of October as the American Planning Association’s National Community Planning Month, Phyllis Thorne, administrative assistant with the Community Development Department, presented on a program in partnership with Community Services involving third- through fifth-grade students in the After-School Recreation Club.

The students created “Birdhouse City,” consisting of painted wooden birdhouses arranged on a town map, in response to this year’s theme of “Innovation in Planning,” focusing on adapting to challenges faced by communities in the 21st century.

“They actually focused on painting buildings that are here in Signal Hill, so you’ll see a Starbucks birdhouse, a Home Depot birdhouse, a Costco birdhouse, and my favorite was the Black Bear Diner birdhouse,” Thorne said.

Thorne shared how she invited students to consider community needs, transportation, safety, growth, environmental concerns, the buildings a city needs and where they should be located. They also specifically discussed Signal Hill as a city.

“They really liked that we’re going to have a new library,” she said. “And they suggested that we need more restaurants.”

The next meeting of the Signal Hill Planning Commission will take place Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 7pm in the council chamber at 2175 Cherry Ave.

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