Archive for October, 2009

Permanent Medical Marijuana Ordinance

October 21st, 2009

Dear Neighbors —

We are writing to provide you with an update regarding medical marijuana in this City. There is considerable misinformation circulating on this topic. We hope to inform you and to encourage you to share your views in this matter with the City Council. We do not have a City Council hearing date, but will write again once the day and time are known. Our proposed medical marijuana ordinance is attached.

1. What is the law? Both state and federal law ban and criminalize the sale of marijuana. California voters created an exception for the seriously ill in our 1996 Compassionate Use Act. This Act and its implementing state legislation immunize “qualified patients” and their “primary caregivers” from criminal prosecution if their only conduct is the collective cultivation of medical marijuana for personal use to treat specific serious illnesses. The Compassionate Use Act ballot argument stated that the Act would not allow the sale of marijuana. The California Supreme Court has confirmed that this is our law. On Monday, the Obama administration also advised us that the federal government will honor California law.

2. What has happened in Los Angeles? California cities are authorized to write their own local regulations governing access to medical marijuana, consistent with state law. Los Angeles has yet to take this step. As Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Chalfant ruled this week, our temporary rules have expired. Even so, to date, they were not being enforced. In this vacuum, as many as 1,000 marijuana dispensaries have opened in Los Angeles for the commercial sale of marijuana. No one knows the sources for the vast citywide quantity of marijuana, but it is apparently not the result of cultivation by patients and caregivers. Unlike for every other product that we consume or ingest, there is no local, state, or federal agency that oversees the quality, content, and potential threat of chemical or foreign matter contamination. Moreover, the increased crime at and around the pot shops is taxing our police force and our neighborhoods.

3. What is the next step? Los Angeles needs to adopt regulations about where and how true medical marijuana collectives can operate. The City Attorney transmitted this office’s draft ordinance to the City Council yesterday. The draft enables collective cultivation for compassionate use, but does not allow the outright sales that Los Angeles is currently experiencing. Once the City adopts a permanent ordinance, we can begin to close shops operating illegally and monitor legitimate collectives that lawfully provide medical marijuana to residents in need.

4. How can you help? Marijuana advocates who want to legalize retail sales turn out in force for the City Council hearings on this topic. While it is also common for the hearings to include a handful of chronically ill patients who rightfully deserve access to medicinal marijuana, most speakers appear to be profiteers, with little compassion for patients and much concern for their personal pocketbooks. These profiteers are well organized and are confident that they can ride roughshod over this City. Who is missing from these hearings? Missing are the pot shop customers, ranging in age from 14 to 30, who are not in medical need of marijuana but, rather, are recreational users. More importantly, you are missing. It is critical that you and your neighbors be heard. The downside risk is too great that this City will continue to be the lawless Wild West for unregulated marijuana shops and their attendant crime and social ills.

Many thanks for reading. Please let the City Council know your views. Please write or email us back with your questions.

Jane Usher

Link to Permanent Medical Marijuana Ordinance
http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2008/08-0923_RPT_ATTY_10-20-09.pdf

Appeal Fees item back at City Council on 10/21

October 21st, 2009

For anyone who didn’t see today’s City Council session on this item, it was a very active discussion. Tune in to Channel 35 for a replay.

In the end, the City Council extended it one day so the City Attorney could draft the amendments proposed that would reduce the fees back to what they were before the August vote…. at least for the next 30-days.

More details below. If you have an interest in this issue, please attend Wednesday’s City Council meeting and/or continue to submit comments to all the City Councilmembers.

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The Appeal Fee Issue is Back tomorrow, Wednesday 10:00 AM at City Council under Continuation Agenda Item 37, Council File No. 09-0600-S50:
Link: http://ens.lacity.org/clk/councilagendas/clkcouncilagendas363166_10212009.pdf

This is listed in the agenda as an “Item for which public hearing has not been held.” This means that it is AGAIN open for public comment.

It is crucial at this point that the public’s intent to keep appeal fees low is respected by our City Council. If the public doesn’t speak, that may change.

Also we will not know what the new ordinance will be until it is posted in the morning at City Hall with hardly enough time for the public to review and digest the proposed ordinance. The Ordinance should be posted on the board on the West side within the Council Chambers.
Please show up and contact your Councilmember and reiterate the importance of upholding the right of all citizens of Los Angeles to appeal unjust decision of the Planning Dept and Building and Safety.

Today’s hearing can be seen on the attached video link. On the player you can adjust the time to approx 1:25:00 (1 hour, 25 minutes)

http://lacity.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=130&clip_id=6895

URGENT ISSUE Related to Increase in Appeal Fees (LA City Council, Supplemental Agenda Item No. 23, October 20 )

October 20th, 2009

An important note, the land use Appeal fee increase from August 2009 did not go into effect since a Brown Act Cure and Correct letter was sent in. If this new proposal fails, then the original fee structure (pre-August 2009) will be in effect.

* Link to Supplemental Council Agenda (Look for Item 23): http://ens.lacity.org/clk/councilagendas/clkcouncilagendas363120_10202009.pdf

* Link to Report on this Item [See PDF page Nos. 4 & 5 for fee information]: http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=09-0600-S50

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Summary of Issues:

This is an urgent item and it is important to submit objections to this and if possible show up in person to oppose Supplemental Agenda Item No. 23 for the LA City Council October 20, 2009.

An increase in fee structure including a tiered system (within short noticing distances) puts an increased price on the average citizens ability to petition their government on land use decisions.

1. Dramatic INCREASE in fees to COMMUNITY MEMBERS: The fees are dramatically being increased to community members seeking to appeal development projects.

2. A tiered structure is being implemented for the first time. Those outside a noticing area will be charged a dramatically higher rate. In many cases, the noticing area is adjacent property owners.

3. Dramatic DECREASE in fees to DEVELOPERS: The fee for applicant/Developers to appeal decisions has been capped dramatically reducing costs for developers with mid-size and large projects (it is currently not capped and is 85%). This would come into play if a developer was not happy with the decision of his/her project.

Typically in cases where the Developer is at odds with the community and the local Councilmember.

4. This even affects smaller local issues such as overheight fenses, etc.

Additional Information:

5. Appeal fees are going from $74 per appeal to $500 per appeal (almost 700% increase) for those outside the appeal area which may be as short as two properties away (for those notices required to be adjacent property owners). For those within the noticing area, the costs have doubled from $74 to $150.

6. In order to properly appeal a mixed use development an appellant would need to appeal all aspects of that project two times; one to appeal the commission decision and another time to appeal the City Council decision in order to preserve the record and to exhaust administrative remedies.

For example, a community group or community member just outside (1 property away) the “noticing area” wanting to challenge a mixed use project could have to pay $3,000 to appeal under the new plan compared to $444 under the old plan:

NEW PROPOSED PLAN:
A. Tentative Tract Map appeal: $500 * 2 = $1,000
B. Entitlement Approval appeal: $500 * 2 = $1,000
C. Density Bonus Approval appeal: $500 * 2 = $1,000
TOTAL: $3,000 (New Proposed Plan)

OLD PLAN (Pre-August 2009):
A. Tentative Tract Map appeal: $74 * 2 = $148
B. Entitlement Approval appeal: $74 * 2 = $148
C. Density Bonus Approval appeal: $74 * 2 = $148
TOTAL: $444 (Old Plan)

Announcing the release of the Bicycle Plan

October 17th, 2009

The City of Los Angeles has released its Draft Bicycle Plan and will be holding a series of workshops throughout the Los Angeles area. The workshops are scheduled to begin on October 22, 2009. For more details about the workshops, see the “Plan Release Memo”. In addition to the four workshops, presentations to Neighborhood Councils, bicycle advocacy groups, and other groups may be available, as stated in the Memo.

To see the plan, please click here: http://www.labikeplan.org/

Yours in public service,
Carolyn Jackson
Senior Management Analyst
Office of the General Manager
Department of Transportation