San Diego City Council rejected Mayor Filner’s medical marijuana zoning proposal without consideration, voting instead to re-introduce their extremely restrictive original zoning proposal, overturned by a voter signature drive in 2011, with additional new restriction suggestions.
Mayor Filner had introduced his medical marijuana zoning proposal at the beginning of the council session dedicated to its consideration.
Describing his proposal, Mayor Filner said, “I’ve tried to do both – to widen access and increase protection for neighborhoods and children.”
Faced with a full house of speakers on the issue, Council President Todd Gloria instructed speakers to limit their comments to the mayor’s medical marijuana ordinance being considered and give feedback on the same. For the next three and a half hours, dozens of speakers spoke for and against the provisions of the ordinance, with the majority of speakers being in favor of the mayor’s proposal. Clark Metcalf, a patient suffering from a traumatic brain injury stated, “I believe that we should have safe, responsible, access and I thank the mayor for proposing this.”
Members of the medical marijuana taskforce, commissioned by Todd Gloria in 2010 to help develop the original ordinance proposal, also presented a letter of support of the mayor’s proposal. “It is time for San Diego to reach a lasting resolution to this issue. We believe that Mayor Filner’s proposal will do just that and we support it wholeheartedly,” wrote taskforce President Alex Kreit and Vice President Stephen Whitburn, along with taskforce members Dave Potter and Rev. Riggs.
However, despite the directive from Council President Gloria to the council to discuss the proposal put forth by Mayor Filner, Councilmember Marti Emerald immediately put forth a motion to disregard the mayor’s proposal without any discussion of its provisions and to instead resurrect the proposal put forth by the council, and repealed through voter referendum, in 2011.
Despite the primary criticism of the repealed ordinance, echoed by many speakers at the council meeting, that this repealed ordinance constituted a near ban, Councilmember Emerald also suggested further restrictions to the 2011 ordinance, including an additional 100 foot buffer from all residences, not found in the original 2011 ordinance.
Councilmember Lightner seconded the proposal to disregard the Mayor’s proposal in favor of the Council’s failed 2011 ordinance.
“It was a switch and bait,” complained speaker David Armille, a resident of the fourth district, “we spent four hours giving our input to the mayor’s proposal, only to have the council vote to resurrect an already repealed ordinance, with no opportunity for input from the public, that has already proven its unpopularity in a public referendum.”
“We came here to speak to one proposal,” echoed James Schmachtenberger, “that proposal was ignored along with our comments.”
Councilmembers David Alvarez and Lori Zapf, who had opposed the 2011 ordinance, restated their concerns with this ordinance after the motion to resurrect it was put forth. “I had a lot of concerns on this issue last time around because of the map,” stated Councilmember Zapf, “… district six, most of the dispensaries would have been located in my district, and, I think that of Mr. Alvarez.”
The repealed 2011 ordinance had concentrated the zones almost exclusively in the Kearny Mesa and Otay Mesa communities. The mayor’s proposal instead proposed limited zones in each council district, with access more evenly spread amongst all communities.
The public in attendance of the City Council meeting appeared uniformly displeased with the council’s decision to resurrect their already repealed ordinance, as well as to ignore the proposal in front of them.
“This ordinance was already rejected by the residence of San Diego,” stated United Patients’ Alliance President Ken Cole. “The public has spoken, and they do not want a ban. They do not want patients to have to drive to far flung industrial areas for their medicine. And this already repealed ordinance does exactly that – it forces patients to industrial areas with no public transportation. It is completely against the spirit of safe, local, access championed by Mayor Filner.”
Councilmember Gloria, who stated his support of the mayor’s proposal earlier in the session, volunteered to reach out to Mayor Filner to help see if some common ground could be found between their proposals. “It would be a good bonding experience for the mayor and I to work on this together,” he said.
“We are very disappointed that the Council has chosen not to even consider the mayor’s proposal,” stated UPA political director Cynara Velazquez, “Why choose to go back to an unpopular ordinance, already defeated by a referendum effort put forth by the voters, when the mayor and the public are here, presenting you with a better alternative that you fail to even consider?”
Map of 2011 Medial Marijuana Ordinance (Repealed)
Map of Mayor’s Proposal