Herald American

Norwalk puts moratorium on marijuana permits

NORWALK — If California voters approve Proposition 64 Nov. 8, the legal use of marijuana for those age 21 or over could take effect Nov. 9 — but not here.

The City Council Nov. 1 approved by a 4-0 vote an ordinance freezing the issuance of city permits for all commercial non-medical marijuana activity and prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivation for at least 45 days, ending Dec. 24. Under state law, a moratorium can be extended for up to two years.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited under a previous city ordinance. Proposition 64 requires city permits allowing the sale, delivery and cultivation of marijuana but allows up to six plants in a private home or structure, such as a garage, on a property.

The city ordinance is void if voters reject Proposition 64.

Mayor Mike Mendez said the freeze gives the city time to look over its options under Proposition 64. Those options are to allow marijuana sales, delivery and outdoor cultivation under reasonable rules or to reject any such use outright.

In a report to the council, Senior Planner Beth Chow said the ban of medical marijuana dispensaries in Norwalk is not affected by Proposition 64 or the moratorium.

She noted that the City Council earlier this year re-enforced its medical marijuana ban, citing federal laws against the substance, fear of abuse and criminal activities around dispensaries and a report that under federal law “marijuana has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment of ailments.”

If Proposition 64 is approved, a public hearing on the moratorium and ordinance provisions would be discussed Dec. 6.

City Manager Mike Egan said city staff will research possible tax revenue from marijuana operations.

Members of a regional group based warned about the possible exposure of those under 21 to marijuana.

Legal use would increase the chances of children obtaining and using marijuana, said Joel Reynoza of Long Beach. Group members said they would seek to educate Norwalk residents of the dangers.

“We need all the information we can get before we go forward with any action,” Vice Mayor Cheri Kelley said.

Neighboring Bellflower has tentatively approved an ordinance allowing marijuana sales, cultivation and delivery at up to 12 sites, but like Norwalk’s, the ordinance would be void if Proposition 64 is defeated.

Final action on the Bellflower law is expected Nov. 14, after the voting results are known.

In other action Nov. 1, the council:

• Gave final approval to an ordinance repealing restrictions on where paroled sexual offenders might live. Required distances of 1,000 to 2,000 feet from a school, park or place of children gathering have made it impossible for parolees to find a place to live in some cities, the courts have ruled.

“There is no evidence that residence restrictions for sex offenders make the community any safer,” said a staff report, noting statistics that one-third of area sex offenders on parole are transient, making it more difficult for parole officers to check on them.

• Contracted with All-American Asphalt of Corona, lowest of eight bidders at $686,686, to improve Alondra Boulevard from Studebaker Avenue to Gridley Road. Total cost is estimated at $858,358 including contingency, construction management, materials testing, inspection and administration.

Work includes paving, repairing curbs,gutters and sidewalk and installing wheelchair ramps, City Engineer William Zimmerman said.

Construction will begin in December and take three months, Zimmerman said.