Cannabis Cultivation In Brea?

Proposition 215 (the Compassionate Use Act of 1996) is a California law legalizing the use of medical cannabis. Enacted on November 5, 1996 by means of the initiative process, Prop 215 passed with a majority vote of 55.6%.

Though medical cannabis was legalized and accepted by the majority of California voters, Prop 215 does not supersede federal law. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law which causes a conflict between the state and the U.S. Government.

A legal frame of reference.

cannabisFearing that state law might be created that would usurp local control, on April 3, 2007, Council adopted emergency interim Ordinance No. 1100-U prohibiting medical cannabis dispensaries in the city of Brea.

On March 18, 2008, Council, adopted interim Ordinance No. 1113 extending the prohibition — with a one year time limit, expiring in April 2009.

Prior to the expiration of Ordinance 1100-U the city’s options were to either adopt a full prohibition of cannabis dispensaries or form standards to allow the use.

Obviously, Council opted to adopt full prohibition. On December 9, 2008, the Planning Commission adopted a resolution which recommended language to Council for an ordinance prohibiting medical cannabis dispensaries in the city of Brea. (Documentation)

Council, on January 20, 2009, had the first reading of an amendment to the Brea Municipal Code prohibiting medical cannabis dispensaries in the city of Brea. As on all prior occasions public hearings were conducted. Having no one wishing to speak to the matter, hearings were opened and closed without comment.

On February 3, 2009, Council had the second reading of the resolution and adopted Ordinance No. 1120, a full prohibition of medical cannabis dispensaries. (Documentation)

It only took 19 years for the next chapter in the Chronicles of Cannabis to be written.

On October 9, 2015 AB266, AB243 and SB643 became California law. Known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). It’s charter was to license and regulate commercial medical cannabis. MMRSA created the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation in the Department of Consumer Affairs – an agency to be similar in scope to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Buried deep within MMRSA, a phrase marked for deletion indicating that any county or municipality not having an ordinance on the books by March 1st regarding cultivation of cannabis would have their authority to control locally ceded to the state. Inadvertently overlooked, this clerical error triggered panic across the state.

Clerical error amended!

AB21, introduced by Assembly member Jim Wood, on January 4th, is making the rounds in Sacramento and should land on Governor Brown’s desk by January 18. Governor Brown has guaranteed his signature. By the time Council meets the compelling need to respond will no longer exist. (Documentation)

Frankly, there have been too many instances of emergencies like this and this sort of unnecessary pressure hasn’t generally produced the best results.

Still, the sky is falling in Brea?

Pot_BReacting to the clerical error, on December 15, 2015, Council declared a state of urgency and enacted Interim Ordinance No. 1181 “Prohibiting all commercial medical marijuana uses in the city, including deliveries, prohibiting all medical cultivation including cultivation for medical use by a qualified patient or primary caregiver.” (Documentation)

Though the title of this ordinance clearly is all inclusive of areas subject to local control, it has been commonly referred to as a blanket prohibition of cultivation. The ordinance obviously extends to usage and distribution of cannabis issues as well.

On January 19 Council will duplicate it’s extension of the antecedent temporary ordinance prohibiting dispensaries, pushing out the prohibitions of Ordinance No. 1181 to January 2017. And, as before, the Planning Commission is (tentatively) being tasked “… to make a recommendation to the City Council related to land uses associated with the cultivation of marijuana (MJ). This recommendation will be in the form of a proposed amendment to the Zoning Code.

If this goes to the Planning Commission to initiate the process of making the “interim” prohibitions permanent, it will likely be at their January 26th meeting. Agendas for these meetings have not been finalized or publically released.

Stirring the pot, pun intended.

Pot_CInfuriated with the absence of public input in all prior policy-making, I’m hoping to encourage greater comment and opinion from Breans. At the Council meeting on January 19 and, if it is decided that nothing less than permanent law will be adequate to protect Brea’s authority, at the Planning Commission on January 26.

Okay really… an interim ordinance doesn’t say, “Please try to avoid doing these things.

An interim ordinance is as fully prohibitive as a permanent ordinance. The only difference is one runs out after a year the other remains in effect, theoretically, in perpetuity.

A lot of dust hasn’t settled.

Here are a few of the reasons I’m inclined to believe an interim ordinance would be sufficient to give Brea the time for a better look at the evolving landscape.

  • It will take as much as two years to get the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, the enforcement agency, up and running.
  • Much of the operating scheme of this agency is yet to be determined, i.e. licensing, fees, oversight and enforcement policies, etc.
  • More than one initiative dealing with aspects of cultivation, processing, distribution and usage (yes, think recreational) is either already qualified or likely will be qualified for the November 2016 ballot.

Pot_DAs we will likely know so much more by next November, wouldn’t it be better to wait to finalize Brea code until we have more answers than questions?

It’s been said that we shouldn’t worry about committing to a position now because we can always amend the code later. Really? It’s okay to do a half-assed job now because we can rewrite it later?

Sorry, but I don’t come from a place that thinks, “We can’t afford to get it right the first time, but we can always afford to fix it later.

The jury is still out.

For reasons that shouldn’t need explanation, I am in limbo on all of this. In the short term, understanding there is not really any urgent need to codify to preserve authority, what should Brea allow or prohibit and why? Should commercial cultivation and personal cultivation for medicinal use be linked together or treated separately?

Please, if you have feelings or opinions about this — of any persuasion — do yourself and your community a favor and carve out some time to be part of the process

Without your input how can the Council or Planning Commission be confident that the majority will, in fact, rule?

Pot_Icon_300

Moore On The Downtown Parking Structure.

Roy MooreYesterday, Roy Moore, weighed in on the downtown parking structure and unfunded pension liabilities… tying them together in a most sensible way. With permission, here is the heart of Roy’s message.

BreaNet, Issue #708

If I may, I would like to comment on the proposed parking structure to be built behind the Tower Building on Super Block A. In January 1999 the City Council approved construction of the buildings on Super Blocks A and B. At that time I argued for a parking structure.

We could have built it for five million dollars with Redevelopment money without disruption to existing businesses. The Tower Building would not have been empty for nine years. I still support such a parking structure. The Council has approved the concept but still is struggling with how to pay for it. It is apparent that tapping city reserves will be necessary.

I would submit that before this decision is made the City Council first formulate how to fund Brea’s unfunded liabilities. This most likely would have to look to these same reserves for a possible solution. This is no small problem. CalPERS currently reports that as of June 30, 2013 Brea’s unfunded liabilities are $108 million.

Although much has been done in recent years requiring city employees to contribute toward their maximum to cover their pensions it does not appear that this will totally solve the problem over the next 25 years.

Here is my recommendation for a possible solution.  Brea’s landfill is an asset that I believe will generate revenues until at least 2040. The determinant on when to close the landfill is the height of the “trash mountain”.

There are two reserve funds as a result of the landfill.

The Capital Mitigation Improvement Fund (560 Fund) currently has a balance of $5.16 million. This fund was created by the $10.5 million payment from the Orange County Waste Management for the eight year extension of the landfill. I believe there will be at least two more extensions.

The original amount has already been reduced by 50% to make improvements to Valencia Avenue (valid use of funds), pay two solar bond payments (supposed to be paid from electricity savings) and the Birch Street medians.

The second landfill fund is the Community and Economic Development Fund (140 Fund) which currently has a balance of $3.48 million and results from revenues received for out-of-county trash deposits in our landfill at $1.50/ton. This amounts to in excess of one million dollars a year.

I recommend placing a large percentage (at least 50%) of these two funds (current balances and future growth) into a special unfunded liabilities account to earn interest and be used to periodically pay down our unfunded liabilities.

So what does this leave to fund a new parking structure?

Assume a structure for parking only, no affordable housing and a not-to-exceed cost of $9.0 million: 560 Fund – $2.5 million, 140 Fund – $1.2 million, 110 Fund (General Fund) – $3.0 million, Redevelopment funds – $3.8 million.

This adds up to a healthy $10.5 million.

Note: the redevelopment funds may not be available and depends upon the State Legislature approval of Governor Brown’s trailer bill. Using long term financing could make up the shortage using the annual growth in the 140 Fund to make the payments.

The bottom line is that it is possible to put in place a plan to cover our unfunded liabilities and also provide a new parking structure in the Downtown. How the financing is structured and whether any of the funds are a loan to the Downtown is up to Council.

For what it is worth that is my two cents on the subject. – Roy Moore

Moore on MadronaAs always, thanks Roy.

Voters Sweep Brea Clean!

Operation Clean SweepA week ago today, Brea voters and Operation Clean Sweep succeeded in rebooting City Council! Welcome and congratulations to Cecilia Hupp, Steve Vargas and Glenn Parker. Your convincing win confirms that Brea voters, eager to turn around a floundering Council, see something in you they like.

To whom much is given, much is expected. Simply put, privilege brings responsibility and that responsibility entails accountability. Now is the time to set aside personality conflicts and petty grievances. Too many serious issues are tucked into your information packets and need your undivided attention.

Brea Matters (Voters) Wade In.

While waiting for the dust to settle and the provisional votes to be tallied, I invited Brea Matters readers (voters) to tell me how they see the issues stacking up. Thanks to all who took the time to share their thoughts. Here are the top three issues.

Unfunded Pension Liability.

The small contribution now required of new hires, bolstered by similar changes in state regulation, have slowed the rate of debt increase… slightly. The escalation of unfunded debt has neither been reversed nor solved.

The problem is still our largest fiscal nightmare. You will not be able to nudge pension reform into existence. Nothing less than sweeping change, with the full participation of the beneficiaries, will address this issue.

Water, The Currency Of Tomorrow.

The drought is real. This chronic shortage is effecting more than shorelines. It is the catalyst behind Brown’s Measures 1 and 2. The real effects of their passage will likely come as a shock to voters who cast their ballot in favor.

Our tiered water rates, still on the back burner awaiting the San Juan Capistrano decision, will be pulled to the front burner when the state’s budget based water rates enter the discussion. Brea is already giving the state detailed monthly water consumption data.

Once the camel’s head is in the tent it’s ass is soon to follow. The state will insert itself into the water business and it won’t make more water available or lower your rates.

With Silver Bells And Cockle Shells.

On a semi-related note, the drought tolerant demonstration garden rushed to approval a few weeks ago enjoys zero public support. None. Nada.

Beyond a small consulting contract, no other handcuffs exist. No RFQ has been drafted or circulated. No bids have been submitted, reviewed or approved.

Put the garden back on the agenda. Recognize it for what it is, a boondoggle. A complete waste of a quarter million dollars. Reverse the original decision. Terminate the project. Fix the leak in the subterranean parking using the Building Maintenance Fund.

Fracking, A Black Hole Of Deception.

The most significant missing component in fracking’s risk/reward equation is truth.

Truth about water, how it is combined with which chemicals or acids, where it comes from in the first place, how it is handled during the process and where it goes when disposed of. Truth about noxious fumes. How much methane and other hazardous gases are really escaping from wells, how far might they travel in the air, what are the risks of exposure or inhalation?

Truth about potential failure of equipment or of human error. Truth in documentation, willingness to be subject to regulation, oversight and enforcement of noncompliance or infraction.

Council may be comfortable, for whatever reasons, peeking through the wool pulled over their eyes… but a significant number of Breans do not share their complacency. They’ve read about thousands of incidents, from unfortunate to catastrophic, where people’s health and safety was put at risk, where the environment was put at risk, where seismic concerns grew exponentially over just a few years.

What we don’t know could kill us. That is not Chicken Little screaming, “The sky is falling!” That is not some conspiracy theorist’s attempt at scare tactics. That is the unvarnished truth. Until we know more, until oil companies are more forthcoming, until regulatory agencies are able to oversee the industry without having their hands tied by state and federal intervention… the smart thing to do is put a moratorium in place.

A Laundry List Continually Overlooked.

These “lesser” more procedural issues will sound familiar. Why? Because they’ve been at the center of campaign promises, half-hearted studies by overpaid consultants and counterfeit community conversations for years. They are in no particular order.

  • Inattention to public comment during Matters From The Audience.
  • Disregard of public comment during Matters From The Audience.
  • Growing abandonment of meaningful public hearings.
  • General lack of transparency and accountability.
  • Too much business conducted in study session.
  • Too many items buried on the Consent Calendar.
  • Failure to faithfully implement Measure T.
  • Runaway senior staff salaries and the ten city survey.
  • Satisfactory resolution of former RDA projects.
  • Consistent and equitable support of the business community.
  • Traffic congestion.
  • Open discussion of possible public safety JPA’s.
  • Declining senior services.
  • Street sweeping citations.
  • Decline of Lagos de Moreno Park.

A Show Of Good Faith.

Pass an ordinance limiting political/campaign signage to a maximum of 500 square inches and a display period, on public and private property, no more than 90 days prior to the election. Pass a resolution limiting campaign expenditures to no more than $10,000, campaign mailing pieces to no more than two. Pass a resolution limiting Council seats to no more than two terms.

Do the right thing. Without your honorable preemptive resolution of these issues, please believe that the public is willing and able to gather the necessary signatures and put them on the ballot.

In Conclusion…

Arguably the most disconnected, delusional, Council member in recent history was held accountable for his lack of performance and overwhelmingly denied reelection to a second term.

Members of Council, this is meant as a reminder, not a threat. Brea voters have extended to Council members, new and old, the privilege of representing their best interests. Expect to be held accountable.