Santa Clarita Planners Pass On Grass

January 15, 2008

Katherine Geyer, The Signal (Santa Clarita, CA)

Santa Clarita Planning Commissioners just said no to marijuana Tuesday night when they unanimously approved a city code change that prohibits the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city.

“The fact is, that the legislation and the conflict between the state and federal government has created an untenable situation right now,” said Commissioner Tim Burkhart.

He said the city should protect itself from “being caught up in a process that was done for the right reasons, but was certainly not well thought out.”

Sgt. Phil Morris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said this week that since the state legalized medical marijuana use, teens have abused the medical cards.

In 2006, the city had imposed an urgency ordinance to prohibit the dispensaries in Santa Clarita.

“It is unfortunate because I think there truly is a need for people who are in terrible health and need this medicine and need it delivered in a certain way, but the law was not created in a good way and has put us all in a bad situation,” said Commissioner Diane Trautman.

Federal law prohibits marijuana from being distributed, but California’s Proposition 215, passed in 1996, allows for the drug to be used for medicinal purposes.

Although state law legalized the use of medical marijuana, there is nothing that specifically authorizes the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, said Assistant City Attorney Joe Montes.

“We’re just going to close that loop to make sure the issue is clear,” he said.

The item will be considered by the City Council.

At a study session preceding the Planning Commission meeting, city planners said they have begun to work with county planners to provide input on county developments within the Santa Clarita Valley. The city will be keeping a closer eye on proposed county developments that lie within the city’s sphere of influence, an area outside the city that is expected to eventually become part of the city.

“They deserve close attention on the part of the city,” said Paul Brotzman, director of community development for the city.

He said that the closer the projects are to the city limits, the harder the city pushes to influence the plans.

Also at the Planning Commission meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the architectural design review for a new California Pizza Kitchen and a new Lifestyle Center as part of the Westfield Valencia Town Center expansion project.

The commission also approved a request to convert the Caravilla Mobile Home Park in Canyon Country from a rental park to individual ownership.

Commissioners agreed to continue until Feb. 5 the public hearing regarding the removal of a non-conforming sign at A-American Self Storage and Cat Doctor at 26053 Bouquet Canyon Road.

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