Pubdate: Mon, 15 Jul 2013
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2013 Swift Communications
Author: Matthew Renda


NEVADA CITY, Calif. -- Paperwork has been filed to force Nevada County
to hold a special election that will ask voters to decide the
substance of its medical marijuana ordinance enacted last year.

Patricia Smith, president of the Nevada County chapter of Americans
for Safe Access, has repeatedly asserted that last May's
county-approved cultivation ordinance is a de facto ban on collective
cultivation of the medicinal plant and presents other problems for
patients who need the medicine to allay various ailments.

"There is a sweet spot that properly balances patients' well-being and
potential nuisances to neighbors," Smith said Friday at the Eric Rood
Administrative Center in Nevada City, where she was filing paperwork
with the Nevada County Elections Office. "The present ordinance
prioritizes the right of property owners at the expense of patients.
Our ordinance protects everybody."

The county's ordinance regulates legal cannabis growth from a nuisance
standpoint within unincorporated areas in the county. The ordinance
limits growth based on parcel size, property zoning and setbacks, and
imposes other restrictions such as fencing and lighting

Smith and her cohorts have formulated an updated ordinance and will
put it in front of voters if they are able to garner the 9,923
signatures required to move the process toward a special election.

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said the ordinance as currently
constructed is more effective in protecting his constituents' quality
of life.

"My greatest concern is that (Smith's) ordinance provides for greater
latitude in the location and volume of plants," Royal said.

Royal said the proposed ordinance would "dramatically reduce his
department's ability to respond to complaints," which have begun to
pick up and will steadily increase in volume when the peak grow season
arrives in late August and continues through September.

Residents most often complain about the smell of the plants and also
the traffic and trash generated by grow operations, Royal said.

Smith said the current ordinance actually unduly punishes small
collectives and contains unreasonable fencing requirements.

She added that grows should be restricted by the number of plants
instead of according to square footage.

Royal said some plants can grow to be as large as 12 feet in diameter,
so regulating according to number would not be an effective means of
limiting the amount of marijuana at a given land plot.

Smith has already filed a Notice of Intention to Circulate Petition,
the first step in the process. She has publicized the notice in local
media and was on her way to provide the elections office with proof of
publication Friday.

Once the document is verified, Smith can begin to collect signatures,
needing to gather 20 percent of the votes cast for California governor
in the last gubernatorial election.

Smith must present the signatures 180 days from the date when the
ballot title and summary were first received, which is Dec. 30, 2013.

In Nevada County, the county, Grass Valley and Nevada City have
outright bans, while the town of Truckee does not allow dispensaries
in its zoning language.

"The way our zoning operates is that if it is not specially allowed,
it is prohibited," Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said
previously, adding that there has been little town demand to open such
a storefront.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt