County Cannabis Committee to Grapple over Governance
The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee will hold their fourth meeting Tuesday at the Simpkins Center beginning at 9:30am. Seven more meetings are on the calendar before their term ends December 23rd.
The agenda includes a presentation by County Planning Director Kathy Previsich on “Land Use Planning as part of a regulatory framework”. Before that, the committee is scheduled to discuss the ordinances and resolution which govern the 13 member committee.
At last week’s’ meeting, committee members asked the County staff to provide clarification on whether or not they should have an elected chair and vice chair from among their ranks vs having the county staff continue to plan and run the meetings. (Account of last weeks meeting can be found here.)
The committee was created by the BOS in June for the purpose of creating “policy recommendations” that the Board might consider in developing a new cannabis cultivation ordinance after their previous attempt had to be rescinded.
The BOS set a timeline of 6 months for the committee and directed County staff to support their work by posting notices of the meetings, recording the meetings and providing minutes of the meetings. In addition they directed that a facilitator be hired who lived in the county, had experience in agriculture law, government and law and “with proven facilitation experience”.
County staff is holding the opinion that the Board of Supervisors “implied” that a county hired facilitator would assume the duties of a chair and vice-chair. County staff says they intend to return to the BOS to have this structure formalized with a specific “exception” which would require an amendment to the original ordinance. (The fact that County staff recognizes the need for BOS action implies to me that a chair and vice chair elected by the committee is required absent a specific “exception”.)
The significance of the issue has to do with how the meeting agendas and schedules are developed and how the committee will approach their ultimate work product. To date, the calendar and presentations have been developed by the consultant although the committee forced some changes following a presentation that focused, some thought too heavily, on the problems associated with cannabis cultivation.
Some members have expressed concern that their charter: developing specific policy recommendations (with acceptable language that can be used to craft a new ordinance); is being delayed in favor of extensive fact gathering, some of which may or may not be relevant to any actual policy recommendations the committee was created to consider.
The committee has until Dec 23 to submit their recommendations.
The BOS will not be bound by any recommendations the committee might offer but the potential of citizen’s initiative reaching the ballot by June or November 2016 seems real if the BOS does not adopt an acceptable ordinance before that time.