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While most cities have repeatedly said no to medical marijuana businesses, two groups are circulating petitions in Vista and Oceanside that provide rules for the cities to regulate, license and tax dispensaries.
In Vista, a petition backed by Vistans for Better Community Access would allow for up to 10 dispensaries (one per 10,000 residents), taxed at a rate of 7 percent of their sales. The petition’s backers needed about 5,600 signatures to force a decision by the City Council to either approve the ordinance, or put the issue to a special election.
The Union-Tribune reports that the elections consultant hired by the medical marijuana advocates failed to include the name of the measure on some pages of the petition, which could invalidate thousands of signatures.
The group submitted about 7,000 signatures, the Union-Tribune reports, but Vista’s city clerk said they had to reject about half of them, and it was unclear whether the petitioners could simply submit more signatures, or whether it must start over.
Meanwhile, the petition in Oceanside calls for a 6 percent tax on marijuana sales, would allow 10 dispensaries (one per 18,000 residents) and would allow growing and testing.
Amber and David Newman, owners of a medical marijuana nursery, launched the petition, which needs 8,700 signatures.
David Newman told me they’re aiming to have a strong show of support at an April workshop that the city will host, to make the case that there is widespread support for the City Council to amend its zoning ordinance to allow dispensaries and testing labs.
The couple is meeting with local groups, like the North County LGBTQ Center, which supports the initiative, and the San Diego County Farm Bureau. If their effort to build a broad coalition fails, David Newman said that’s when they’ll get into “signature-gathering mode.”
Issa Says He Wants to Mimic Federal Workers’ Health Plan
For the past few weeks, members of the group Indivisible North San Diego County have protested outside the local offices for Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Duncan Hunter with three demands: Don’t repeal the Affordable Care Act, do repeal the Muslim ban and hold in-person town hall meetings.
The Union-Tribune reports that about 150 people showed up at Issa’s office on Tuesday, and plan to take action every week, using tactics out of the Tea Party playbook.
Indivisible North County wrote in a press release that its plan is to schedule town hall meetings, “so that all constituents have the opportunity to discuss current political issues and voice their concerns directly to their representative.”
On Jan. 30, Issa held a telephone town hall in which he discussed health care, the travel ban, the border wall, the Department of Veterans Affairs, San Onofre, and sober living homes, said Calvin Moore, Issa’s communications director.
Moore said Issa has already put out a plan that provides the same health care benefits received by federal employees, and constituents have responded positively.
“Constituents have really liked it. It’s a very good plan, one that already works, and will help ease the transition to make sure people don’t lose coverage, have better options, and aren’t forced into a one-size-fits-all plan that just hasn’t kept its promises,” Moore said.
Mixed Results for Mixed-Use in North County
Last month, I wrote about Vista’s attempt to redevelop its downtown and create walkable neighborhoods, but that its lax rules for mixed-use development lead to a flood of new apartments, but not much commercial space.
Councilman John Aguilera was one of the leading voices against defining a minimum amount of commercial that would be required in mixed-use projects, saying it wouldn’t be economically viable for every project. He pointed to Paseo Pointe, an affordable housing project in downtown Vista, where ground-floor shops have sat vacant since the building opened in 2015.
KPBS’s Alison St John reports that Paseo Pointe’s situation is actually pretty common across North County, where new mixed-use developments are overwhelmed by demand for apartments, but can’t fill their commercial space.
Mixed-use development is important for the sales tax it provides to cities’ coffers – residential development generally costs cities more than the property tax the new homes create – and building walkable communities is a city’s easiest, sustainable answer to combating traffic.
But from Vista to Encinitas to San Marcos, it often just doesn’t work out.
“In these North County communities, the model of sustainable communities — where families could run out to the store or get a haircut without getting in the car — is not working out as planners had hoped,” St John writes.
On Feb. 8, the Whole Foods in Encinitas announced it will close, and vacate a spot in Pacific Station, a mixed-use development in that city’s downtown.
The failure of that store could complicate the effort to draft a new housing element for the city. Last fall residents complained about the proposed mixed-use developments in At Home Encinitas, the plan they shot down in November.
And until recently in Oceanside, most of the storefronts beneath market-rate apartments sat empty, at a building across Coast Highway from the Civic Center. Those have recently been leased, as the rest of the city’s downtown fills out, as have spaces at an affordable housing project on Mission Avenue.
Also in the News
• Former Oceanside Mayor Richard Lyon, a “modern Forest Gump,” died this week. (Union-Tribune)
• Encinitas established a housing element task force, tasked with, well, moving the city forward on a new housing element. (Del Mar Times)
• Farmers and the local tourism bureau hope Oceanside’s Morro Hills can become an agritourism destination. (The Coast News)
• Changes to the county’s airports improve safety, efficiency and service for aircraft, and come at a time when Palomar Airport is making a bid to expand. (The Coast News)
• The Escondido Country Club development will be going through some changes (Union-Tribune)
• Oceanside budgets $1 million to repair the pier. (KPBS)
• A 31-year-old Marine, father and college freshman keeps his Cal State San Marcos basketball teammates young. (KPBS)
• An Iranian graduate student in Encinitas was detained, then deported to Austria under President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel, before being allowed to re-enter the country. (Union-Tribune)
Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at email@example.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.