Pubdate: Sun, 14 Oct 2012
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Times-Standard
Author: Kaci Poor


The Eureka City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday to discuss 
an interim urgency ordinance that would extend for another year the 
existing moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana 
dispensaries in the city.

Following a public hearing, city staff will recommend the council 
approve the one-year extension to "preserve the status quo," while 
the city studies amendments to zoning regulations, a staff report said.

The city's medical cannabis ordinance -- passed by a previous council 
in August 2010 and modified in May 2011 -- regulates personal 
residential marijuana grows on a land-use basis and allows for the 
permitting of four medical marijuana dispensaries. The dispensary 
portion of the ordinance came into question after city staff 
solicited input on the ordinance from the U.S. Attorney's Office in 
September 2011.

In response, Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of 
California, wrote the city a sternly worded letter warning Eureka 
that her office felt the city's "licensing scheme" was in violation 
of federal law and could expose the city -- as well as its employees 
and officials -- to legal action.

Last December, the council approved an urgency ordinance, adopting a 
10-month moratorium on dispensaries, which extended a previous 
ordinance that adopted a 45-day moratorium on dispensaries in 
November. If approved by the required four-fifths of the council 
Tuesday, the urgency ordinance would be  extended for one year 
beginning Oct. 16.

According to the staff report, there remains "considerable 
uncertainty regarding the legality of dispensaries and the scope of 
federal and state preemption with respect to local regulation of 
medical cannabis."

In other business, the council will hear a presentation on Humboldt 
Bay's vulnerability to sea level rise delivered by Aldaron Laird of 
Trinity Associates. Following Laird's presentation -- which will 
cover the historical trends of sea level rise and identify potential 
risks to public safety, property and natural resources -- the council 
will also be asked to send a letter to the state Coastal Conservancy 
supporting a $250,000 grant to the nonprofit Coastal Ecosystems 
Institute of Northern California for the adaptation planning and 
technical studies associated with sea level rise in the Humboldt Bay region.

If the grant funding is awarded, the city of Eureka would be asked to 
join a working group with the city of Arcata, the Humboldt Bay 
Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District and the Humboldt County 
Board of Supervisors.

Other invited participants would include land management agencies, 
resource protection and regulator agencies, and special districts. 
Under the agreement, the working group would meet every two months 
for two years with the priority of making information related to sea 
level rise vulnerability available to the public.

If You Go:

What: Eureka City Council meeting

Where: City Council Chambers, 531 K St.

When: Tuesday; closed session begins at 5 p.m., open session begins at 6 p.m.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom