City to weigh in on cannabis

City to weigh in on cannabisBy BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

The agenda for the Sept. 6 Ridgecrest City Council meeting includes a proposed action to write a letter to the Kern County Planning Commission providing a recommendation on the county’s Cannabis Land Use Ordinance options – and that recommended option is a “ban of all cannabis production, sale and products.”

Listed reasons include a predicted increase of violent crime, law enforcement costs, easier access to marijuana by local youth and motoring public and negative impacts on the groundwater supply and power grid.

“Since recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, crime rates have gone up for burglaries, car thefts, murder, etc…” says the summary prepared by Acting Police Chief Jed McLaughlin. “When California voters were introduced to Proposition 64, they were told the ‘black’ or ‘underground’ markets for marijuana would end or severely reduce the detriment of organized crime.

“According to past President of the Colorado Association of Chiefs John Jackson, and the authors … the Colorado black market is still thriving, including unlawful, unlicensed and untaxed large-scale marijuana cultivation and illegal sales.”

The agenda summary says the industry is a “cash and carry” business that doesn’t adhere to standard banking procedures – resulting in a higher number of robberies and violent crimes at dispensaries and cultivation sites.

Other discussion items include allocating roughly $800K in Tax Allocation Bond funds for Southern California Edison to relocate a power pole on South Downs Street to continue with the street-widening project.

Also pertaining to TAB funds is a proposed action to allocate $65K for network security and surveillance systems at City Hall and $5,000 for an electronic voting system.

Under “Discussion and Other Action Items” is also a standing item to provide direction to Mayor Peggy Breeden as she represents the city on the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority – an item of recent controversy.

Breeden and other IWVGA boardmembers – including IWV Water District Rep. Peter Brown and Kern County Rep. Mick Gleason – have recently expressed the desire to have more “flexibility” in how they voted on the board. But as they were appointed, not elected to those positions, the promise to the public has always been that the city and water district representatives will get direction from their respective boards before voting on important matters.

Staff is also recommending amending the city’s Municipal Code relating to abandoned vehicles. The Municipal Code currently states that “no person shall park or stand a vehicle on any street at the same location for more than ten (10) consecutive days.” It also says that California Vehicle Code authorizes governing bodies to remove vehicles parked or standing on the street in the same location after 72 hours.

The city plans to strike its section pertaining to “ten consecutive days” in favor of the state’s 72-hour threshold to prevent confusion.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, at City Hall. Meetings are open to the public and are recorded. For more info, visit www.ridgecrest-ca.gov/ ridgecrest-city-council.

Story First Published: 2017-09-01