Ballots Sent Out in San Lorenzo

November 27, 2007

Amy Sylvestri, San Leandro Times (CA)

The San Lorenzo Village Homes Association will soon be sending out ballots to fill one seat on the association’s five-member board of directors, and address the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas like San Lorenzo, Ashland, and Cherryland. 

The ballots are mailed out with the regular newsletter and two people per household may vote. The 5,600 households in the association have two months to return their ballots.

On the ballot, voters will choose between an argument written by Village Homes Association president Wulf Bieschke against the way that medical marijuana dispensaries are run in the area, and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s counter argument in favor of the existing system.

Since voters passed Proposition 215, state law permits people with prescriptions to obtain medical marijuana at licensed dispensaries.

Bieschke feels that the law is unclear about distribution guidelines and these dispensaries are disproportionately located in unincorporated areas. Currently, there are two dispensaries near San Lorenzo.

“Basically we are asking residents whether they support the way dispensaries are being run currently,” said Bieschke.

Bieschke said that the issue is not the legality of medical marijuana, but rather the location of the dispensaries. For Bieschke, the issue came back to the forefront after San Leandro resident Gary Jones was robbed of his prescription marijuana and murdered shortly after leaving a Cherryland dispensary last June.

“We are just trying to pool our members about the state’s current position and get feedback and present their opinions to our supervisor,” added Bieschke.

In the election for the board seat, Village Homes Association board incumbent Jim Sherman is running against lifelong San Lorenzo resident Mel Medeiros.

Sherman has served on the board for 20 years and works for the San Lorenzo Unified School District. Medeiros started a neighborhood watch association and recently retired from his job with the East Bay Municipal Utilities District.

As part of their platforms, both candidates emphasized community involvement and having San Lorenzo’s downtown retail center revitalized.

“Being on the board is about getting involved and serving your community,” said Sherman. “In general, I would like to see people get more involved, we all live in the same village and we’re all trying to look out for each other.”

“Being on the board is more than just attending a meeting once a month,” added Sherman. “I go out in the community and do things like drive-by check ups of property and I completed the sheriff’s citizen’s academy.” Like Sherman, Medeiros said the key to San Lorenzo’s future is public involvement.

“Since I’ve retired, I’ve had an opportunity to get more involved,” said Medeiros, adding that he would like San Lorenzo to have more of a say on a county-wide level.

Medeiros added that he would like to see more commercial developments replace the empty storefronts downtown.

“I’ve lived in San Lorenzo all my life and raised my family here, but now it’s going through changes,” said Medeiros. “I want to bring back a part of the past. I think that some people who have only been here a few years don’t know how the village thrived.”

The winning candidate will take a seat on the board for a three-year term.

Village Homes Association members can expect their ballots the first week of December and they must be returned by Jan. 31.



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