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Nov 27th
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Town Hall with Supervisor Zach Friend

zach friendWhat concerns and goals will you be bringing to the table during the Board’s discussions of potentially regulating medical marijuana grow operations?

In May of this year, the California Supreme Court reached a decision in the City Of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc. case that solidifies the regulatory land use authority of local jurisdictions in regard to marijuana dispensaries.

The Riverside decision has provided additional clarity on a county's land use regulatory authority, which has led the Board of Supervisors to consider updates to its current policy. My main goal in the Board’s discussion is to move beyond the social policy argument about whether there is value in medicinal marijuana or if that is something that the community values—clearly there is widespread local support for medicinal access. Rather, I want the Board to create a policy that looks honestly at cultivation impacts (in an environmental and residential context), the location of storefronts, and enforcement mechanisms for code enforcement and law enforcement. 

My office has received some very serious complaints from both urban and rural constituents about commercial-sized grow operations and the quality-of-life impacts they have created. Everything from significant environmental degradation, riparian damage, pesticide runoff, unpermitted grading and more. In urban areas, some homes, including rentals, have been 100 percent converted into grow homes. Some openly advertise on local websites about renting out homes for grows or offering help in converting a home or land into a grow operation. I’m requesting that the Board adopt a policy that includes the following:

One, neighborhood impacts—cultivation restrictions in residential areas and special-use agricultural areas on a per-parcel basis.

Two, looking at environmental degradation associated with unmitigated and unregulated rural grows.

Three, enforcement authority and clarity to code enforcement and law enforcement to ensure that neighborhood quality-of-life, environmental protection, and criminal associations are addressed.

And, four, the location, number, and expectations of dispensaries without the formal recognition of legality.

What have you heard from constituents about transportation issues for the Aptos focus area of the Transit Corridor Plan?

Traffic issues are very real and significant in Aptos—especially the Transit Corridor focus area (in the greater State Park Drive area). As an area that is physically limited by two trestles, which narrow Soquel and prevent widening or other improvements, it is difficult to fully mitigate traffic issues.

With that said, there are some proposals planned for the area that should help including signalization of a few intersections and the synchronization of those lights from Trout Gulch to State Park to improve flow.

In addition, as part of the proposed Aptos Village development, more sidewalks, an improved bike lane and walkable services will help. But overall, our office hears a lot of concerns about traffic in the area and concern that any additional development will need to have its traffic impacts mitigated to the greatest degree possible. County Planning staff and Public Works traffic engineers are aware of the concerns, and part of the Transit Corridor Plan is to look at the relationship between transportation, jobs and the physical environment to plan for the future in the smartest possible way. 

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by David P, July 31, 2013
The city and county of Santa Cruz missed the boat on solving traffic issues. Though upgrading the highway was needed, the creation of a light rail down the middle of Highway one to Monterey would have been a much more cost effective way (years ago) With pick up spots and park and rides along the route, I'm certain the project would have paid for itself and reduced traffic issues.

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