The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
When California voters passed Proposition 64 in November, they didn’t quite settle the issue of legal access in the state, so much as set the stage for local battles over commercial operations, like growing, processing and selling weed.
Voice contributor Jared Whitlock writes that cities and the county have taken a hard stance on marijuana in their jurisdictions, which has sparked a number of citizen-led efforts to get some form of local access.
An initial petition in Vista forced the City Council’s hand, and the city is moving tepidly toward an ordinance that would allow two dispensaries. Earlier this month, the Council voted to conduct a poll, though Vistans overwhelmingly supported Prop. 64.
As a result, Vistans for Better Community Access will have another go at collecting signatures for a special election, to allow up to 10 dispensaries.
Whitlock reports that a similar petition in Oceanside was put on pause so the petition’s backers could work with a newly established Council subcommittee to develop regulations, and a group has also lined up to overturn the County Board of Supervisors decision to phase out marijuana operations in unincorporated parts of the county.
“Whenever you see an imbalance between the voters and the elected officials, I think that ballot measures become much more practical and likely, and I think we’ve reached that point in San Diego,” said Hezekiah Allen, executive director at the California Growers Association.
Hunter Spent on Vegas Trip, Cigar Lounge
Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is under federal criminal investigation for personal use of his campaign funds, is still spending money at the kind of places that landed him in hot water, the Union-Tribune reports.
Hunter spent $353 at a cigar lounge in Alpine, and about $2,000 at a hotel in Las Vegas, and Watchdog reporter Morgan Cook writes that Hunter’s office has not responded to her questions about the official, or campaign-related purposes of the trip.
Hunter has already paid back about $60,000 to his campaign in mistaken, personal or undocumented expenses, Cook writes, and Hunter’s latest filings don’t show many of the types of charges he paid back. Nevertheless, the congressman is still under investigation by the Federal Elections Commission.
Coastal Commission Halts Encinitas’ Plans
A state agency overturned a decision made by Encinitas. Stay with me – this one doesn’t involve housing.
The California Coastal Commission this week rejected a plan to locate a stretch of the Coastal Rail Trail along the west side of Coast Highway in Cardiff, which now leaves the trail without a clear path forward.
In 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments released its design for the rail trail along the east side of the train tracks, adjacent to San Elijo Avenue. That year, the Encinitas City Council voted to support that design, but a campaign by residents persuaded the Council to pursue the “western alignment” along Coast Highway.
Among their issues was that the rail trail was ugly, and would require a fence if placed next to the tracks, which could block historic, but illegal, access to the beach.
Coastal Commission staff said the rail trail should stay on the east side of the railroad tracks, because that’s where it was planned and there are no environmental constraints to putting it there.
Though the east side alternative will be costlier for SANDAG, the agency is required to build it as part of its environmental offset in the North Coastal Corridor project – or widening I-5.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who argued for the western alignment at the Coastal Commission, said on her website that it’s just a reality the city will have to accept.
“Because SANDAG is legally required to build the rail trail as mitigation for widening the freeway, it’s clear that we have no choice but to dust ourselves off, accept this new reality, and move forward to craft an east-side rail trail that best reflects the spirit of its natural surroundings and of Encinitas,” Blakespear wrote.
Meanwhile, Oceanside has been balking at completing the rail trail between downtown and South O, because of a section where it crosses over Loma Alta Creek. The city would have to construct a small but expensive bridge, but in April, Oceanside hired a consultant to move forward with designs and alternatives.
Also in the News
• The Oceanside Pier is one of the trashiest beaches in the county. (KPBS)
• Highway 76 is now four lanes from I-5 to I-15, but still has a mess of traffic lights. (Union-Tribune)
• Did Rep. Darrell Issa flip off a reporter when she asked about the news that President Donald Trump asked James Comey to back off the Russia investigation? (Washington Post)
• Vista will add another ambulance to its fleet, but might have to hike the cost of a ride by 41 percent – to $1,700 – to pay for it. (Union-Tribune)
• The Los Angeles Times profiled the man upending political systems across North County, and the state. (Los Angeles Times)