The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) adopted a Community Impact Statement that “approves of the City [of Los Angeles]’s efforts to regulate the siting and operations of medical marijuana dispensaries” but “disagrees with the overly-burdensome approach of the City Attorney’s Office” in suggested regulations now pending before the L.A. City Council.
The VNC position was contained in a resolution drafted by Council Outreach Officer Marc Saltzberg and Vice President Linda Lucks and approved by a nearly unanimous vote at its November 17 meeting. The statement reflects “what we heard” at a well-attended town hall meeting on November 5, said Saltzberg, and it was immediately forwarded to the L.A. City Council for consideration before the matter was taken up downtown on Wednesday morning, November 18.
The Los Angeles City Council then voted on Wednesday afternoon to postpone a vote on the medical marijuana ordinance until at least the following week in view of numerous proposed amendments, thereby assuring that the VNC Community Impact Statement will at least have the opportunity to influence the outcome.
The VNC resolution also recited that “[o]ver 100 Venice stakeholders expressed their overwhelming support for the legalization of marijuana in a poll of Town Hall attendees” but recognized that the current issue was limited to treatment for medical conditions, that the stakeholders “support limiting the proximity of medical marijuana dispensaries to schools,” that they “support taxing marijuana, but the tax burden should not fall on sick people,” and that these and other enumerated points should be considered by the City Council “when crafting new regulations for medical marijuana use and dispensing in Los Angeles.”
An amendment to the VNC position statement proposed by councilmember Carolyn Rios that would have added specific proposals supporting a prohibition on on-site marijuana use, requiring human security at dispensaries, and limiting dispensary hours failed when Saltzberg argued that the resolution should be limited to a statement of the consensus from the town hall meeting.
New VNC Members
Neighborhood Council President Mike Newhouse swore in new member Kristopher Valentine, whose selection had been ratified by the community. The council also heard from candidates for the one outstanding vacancy on the 21-member board.
Candidates’ answers to questions from the board will be posted online (venicenc.org), and residents’ comments are welcomed before the council votes to fill the vacancy at its December 15 meeting, subject to later community ratification. The candidates are Mariana Aguilar, Andre Bollinger, Faisal Gill, Mark Herd, Jake Kaufman, and Clark McCutchen.
In other action, the VNC re-allocated $2,300 from various budget categories to provide funds to encourage candidate participation in the upcoming April 2010 elections for members of the neighborhood council.
Off-site Alcohol Sales
In a “discussion only” agenda item, the council considered a proposal from its Neighborhood Committee for a “moratorium on all off site alcohol sales for one year while or until such time as the VNC enacts a policy to regulate the licensing of Venice off site alcohol outlets.” (The neighborhood council makes recommendations concerning such licenses, but while its views are considered, it does not have authority to issue or withhold license approvals.)
The moratorium proposal sparked perhaps the most evenly divided debate of the evening, with some members urging the council to continue to consider each application on a case-by-case basis, other members arguing that a moratorium would give the council room to develop a comprehensive policy, and representatives of the council’s Land Use Planning Committee saying that they already had a checklist of factors they applied to off-site alcohol sales applications. The subject will come up for a vote at the council’s December 15 meeting.