City residents collect signatures to oppose council’s commercial cannabis decision

Susanville residents may ultimately get to decide if commercial cannabis and dispensaries will be allowed within the city limits. The Susanville City Council approved a city ordinance allowing commercial cannabis activities at its May 4 meeting despite pleas from many city residents to put the matter before the voters.

Mayor Mendy Schuster and Councilmember Brian Moore voted nay on the motion to allow commercial cannabis while Councilmembers Thomas Herrera, Kevin Stafford and Quincy McCourt voted aye. A motion by Schuster to revise some elements of the proposed ordinance to address residents’ concerns and a subsequent motion by Moore to put the matter on the ballot both failed by exactly the same vote.

The approved ordinance takes effect June 4, and permits indoor commercial cannabis activities and up to three dispensaries within the city limits unless residents seeking to overturn the council’s decision can collect enough votes to stall the measure’s effective date, force the council to reconsider and abandon its plan, and if it will not, put the question on the ballot for the people to decide.

City resident Leann Vanderley said she and group of concerned citizens who oppose marijuana have begun collecting signatures to force the council to either abandon its plan or let the voters make the decision. She said three members of the city council should not make a decision that’s “going to affect us forever.”

Where can you sign?
According to Vanderley, “We are attempting to put pot back in the limelight. We have the paperwork to sign. You must be a registered city resident to help with this referendum. The purpose of this measure is to withdraw and suspend Ordinance 22-1033 and allow the registered voters within the city of Susanville, California to have this ordinance placed on the ballot for the voters to decide the matter. That’s what it’s about.”

Residents can sign the referendum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays at Mama’s Nearly New Treasures on Richmond Road; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Safeway and Monsignor Moran Hall; and from 1 to 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays at Walmart. Proponents will travel to the homes of shut-ins who would like to sign, and Mama’s will stay open late for people who work during the day if they call 257-6262 and make an appointment.

How does this process work?
According to the state election code, “If a petition protesting the adoption of an ordinance … is submitted to the elections official of the legislative body of the city … within 30 days of the date the adopted ordinance is attested by the city clerk or secretary to the legislative body, and is signed by not less than 10 percent of the voters of the city according to the county elections official’s last official report of registration to the Secretary of State … the effective date of the ordinance shall be suspended and the legislative body shall reconsider the ordinance.

“If the legislative body does not entirely repeal the ordinance against which the petition is filed, the legislative body shall submit the ordinance to the voters, either at the next regular municipal election occurring not less than 88 days after the order of the legislative body, or at a special election called for the purpose, not less than 88 days after the order of the legislative body. The ordinance shall not become effective until a majority of the voters voting on the ordinance vote in favor of it. If the legislative body repeals the ordinance or submits the ordinance to the voters, and a majority of the voters voting on the ordinance do not vote in favor of it, the ordinance shall not again be enacted by the legislative body for a period of one year after the date of its repeal by the legislative body or disapproval by the voters.”

What’s in City Ordinance 22-0133?
According to the proposed ordinance, “The city wishes to establish a uniform regulatory structure for all cannabis uses in the city in accordance with state law,” and, “The proposed zoning amendments contained herein are consistent with the goals and policies of all elements of the General Plan, and any applicable specific plan in that the ordinance will direct commercial cannabis businesses to appropriate commercial and industrial districts designed to support such uses,” and, “The proposed zoning changes will result in land uses that are compatible with existing and future uses and will not be detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or welfare of the city.”

According to the staff report, “Distribution, manufacturing and testing would be allowed in Industrial and Commercial Zoning Districts … Staff is exploring fee assessment options until such time as the city can place a cannabis tax measure on a future ballot.”

According to the staff report, “There is no fiscal impact identified that is associated with approving the ordinance. If approved, commercial cannabis businesses will be allowed to establish themselves within the city of Susanville, which would increase economic activity resulting in increased revenues for the city. The overall increase is difficult to quantify because it is dependent upon the types and sizes of activities established, which is a market driven variable one that is not fully within the control of the city.”