Pubdate: Fri, 03 Apr 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


Hearing Today on Bid for Referendum

Yuba County medical marijuana growers are seeking a court order today 
to give them the goahead to submit signatures for a voter referendum 
on the county's new marijuana cultivation ordinance.

A Yuba County Superior Court petition filed Thursday seeks a ruling 
declaring invalid the Board of Supervisors action to approve the law 
as an urgency ordinance.

That ruling would theoretically reinstate a 30-day period for the 
ordinance to take effect back to when the ordinance was approved on 
March 10. It would also put back in place the ability for opponents 
to gather referendum signatures during the period that ends next Thursday.

The action seeking a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining 
order follows a lawsuit filed last week by four county growers 
claiming the new ordinance is unconstitutional. A hearing on the 
restraining order and injunction, including a ruling on the urgency 
declaration, is scheduled at 8:30 a.m.

Yuba County supervisors last month approved the new ordinance after a 
series of workshops and hearings attracted vocal opponents and 
supporters. It came after a group of foothills residents complained 
of alleged criminal activity and odors emanating around some grows.

The previous ordinance allowed 18 plants on an acre or less and as 
many as 99 on 20 acres or more. The new one allows no outdoor plants, 
12 inside a qualified accessory structure and none in residences.

In addition, attorney Joe Elford, representing the growers, filed a 
motion to remove the assigned judge, Stephen Berrier, from today's 
hearing. That action states that Berrier is prejudiced against the 
plaintiffs, but does not provide specifics on why.

Elford on Thursday afternoon declined to elaborate.

Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said Thursday afternoon the county 
counsel's office had not yet reviewed the petition.

Thursday's action names Yuba County, the Board of Supervisors and the 
county clerk as defendants. Seeking the restraining order and 
injunction are Woodrow George Powers, Patty Mowery, Theresa Morris, 
George Benson, Norma Hutchins, Eric Salerno and the Yuba Patients Coalition.

The petition cites various legal cases in support of a ruling to 
declare the urgency declaration invalid. It said the board used the 
same criteria to approve the previous ordinance two years ago, but 
didn't declare at that time that its enforcement was a matter of urgency.

It also refers to a county website in which Jeremy Strang, county 
chief code enforcement officer, said enforcement of the new ordinance 
wouldn't occur before April 27.

"Despite the fact that the board knew, or should have known that Yuba 
County code enforcement would not have been able to implement the 
ordinance within 30 days, it nonetheless enacted the ordinance as an 
urgency ordinance," the action states.

Elford said determination that the urgency declaration is invalid 
could reinstate the 30-day waiting period from the time the ordinance 
was approved. That could also reinstate an April 9 deadline to submit 
petitions to election officials for referendum verification.

Under a referendum, opponents would need 1,242 signatures of 
registered voters in the county. If election officials determine 
there are enough signatures, the Board of Supervisors would either 
call for a special countywide election or consolidate the referendum 
with the next scheduled election in June 2016.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom