The Times Standard Reports
Eureka council to consider revising pot laws
What: Eureka City Council special session
Eureka officials meet Tuesday in a special session to discuss revising medical marijuana regulations to make city rules consistent with state laws enacted last year.
The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act allows for entrepreneurs to be licensed for medical marijuana activities. City staff needs direction from the council on which types of licenses should be issued and in which zones the activities should be allowed, according the report prepared by Development Services Director Rob Holmlund.
Eureka would be following Arcata city officials who have already established medical marijuana rules, complete with the creation of a Medical Marijuana Innovation Zone. Arcata officials have been accepting applications for activity permits since the beginning of April.
Humboldt County officials have been accepting applications for medical marijuana business permits since late February, making Humboldt the first county in the state to develop a regulatory system in line with state law passed last year.
The special session of the Eureka City Council starts at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.
Commercial cannabis activity permits allowed under state law include cultivation, manufacturing, testing, dispensaries, distribution, transportation and delivery.
Cultivation licenses can specify outdoor using no artificial lighting, indoor using exclusively artificial lighting, mixed-light using a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting or nurseries, which also are allowed to transport live plants.
Holmlund’s report breaks down the license types and lists which activities may be allowed in different zones of the city. The information in the tables is a draft, provided as a starting point for the council‘s discussion, Holmlund wrote.
Most of the activities would be permitted in commercial or industrial zones, but some cultivation may be permitted in residential areas. Holmlund notes that cultivation operations probably would create odors, noise and traffic. The council is being ask to provide direction on whether any, some or all of the license types should be allowed.
“Additionally, staff is looking for council’s thoughts on whether there should be a limitation of the number of each license type allowed, in which zone district(s) each license type should be allowed, and within each district, whether the license type should be a permitted to conditional use,” Holmlund wrote.
During its regular meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, the council is scheduled to vote on the city budget for next year, a nearly $58 million spending plan for 2016-17.
In a narrative accompanying the budget, City Manager Greg Sparks says the budget is consistent with the council’s goal of keeping public safety as the number one priority.
Public safety accounts for 69 percent or $19.1 million of the General Fund budget, the primary source for delivering essential city services.
Total General Fund appropriations are $27.8 million, which includes an increase in the operating expenditure budget of 3.3 percent, or $842,000, from the prior fiscal year.
“The overall economic outlook for the city of Eureka remains cautiously optimistic,” Sparks wrote. “Leading indicators, such as sales tax, transient occupancy tax and property tax revenues, are projected to increase slightly.”
Sparks says one of the greatest challenges facing Eureka is the need to maintain streets and roads. The city needs to spend some $2 million per year related to maintenance.
“The proposed budget includes $250,000 of general funds supplement gas tax revenues toward street improvements,” Sparks wrote. “It is staff’s belief that based on current revenue and expenditure trends, that insufficient funding will be available for street and sidewalk maintenance in the near term.”