Marijuana will be back on the agenda for the Lompoc City Council on Tuesday, as the governing board is expected to hash out the parameters it would like to see implemented in a new city policy.
The cannabis discussion is slated to be followed by another high-interest topic: continued deliberation of the city’s 2017-19 biennial budget, which has been the center of several rounds of debate since an initial draft was presented on May 2.
The examination of a marijuana policy will occur just six weeks after Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne, who teamed with Councilman Victor Vega to form an ad hoc committee tasked with exploring marijuana issues in the city, made a presentation at the June 20 council meeting and recommended that the city craft and adopt an ordinance that encompasses all aspects of marijuana business, cultivation and use with “minimum oversight.”
On Tuesday, city staff will look for specific direction and guidelines regarding the development or amendment of local laws governing personal marijuana cultivation, commercial operations (for both medicinal and recreational) and tax and/or fee schedules related to marijuana commerce.
At the direction of the ad hoc committee, city administrators included in their staff report some relevant laws and fee structures that have been adopted or are being considered in other cities.
While the staff report is mostly for background and comparison, the document does provide some early estimates of what kind of returns the city could see from marijuana taxation, which would need to be approved by Lompoc voters. Tax structures could be placed on the ballot as soon as 2018.
By averaging the tax revenue generated by seven other California communities, with consideration given to population size, the city of Lompoc could see an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 of additional tax revenue annually, according to city staff.
That additional revenue could total between $100,000 and $125,000 for the upcoming 2017-19 budget cycle, according to the city staff report, which also included preliminary estimates for how much eligible cities could be expecting to receive from the state’s marijuana revenue stream.
Several speakers have addressed the council to express opinions both for and against loosening marijuana regulations in the city since the passage of Proposition 64, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in the November 2016 election. Prop 64 essentially legalized recreational marijuana use in the state, but cities and counties are still able to enact local controls.
The issue kicked into high gear in Lompoc on Dec. 20, 2016, when city leaders proposed an ordinance, which was backed by the Lompoc Police and Fire chiefs, that many residents, including the majority of the council members, believed was overly restrictive. It was after voting down that proposal that the council decided to form the ad hoc committee to investigate the subject further.
The ad hoc committee held four meetings between January and May.
Following the marijuana review, the council is scheduled to continue its budget dialogue, which will enter its fourth month.
The budget was last discussed July 18, which was the most recent meeting of the council.
At that meeting, Councilman Jim Mosby introduced a 12-point list of items he wanted to see assessed by city staff and brought back. The list included reshuffling, reducing or eliminating some staff positions, returning some executive salaries back to 2014 levels, reducing some departmental budgets to 2015 levels, and eliminating the economic development division.
Mosby’s recommendations were backed by two other members of the council, so it is expected that city staff on Tuesday will provide at least some of the information that Mosby requested.
This will mark the 10th time the budget has been discussed by the council, which gave itself a deadline of Aug. 31 — extended from the usual deadline of June 30 — to approve and adopt a budget.
Other topics on Tuesday’s draft agenda include discussion and possible action regarding the city’s complaint-based code enforcement policy, consideration of a request by American Legion Post 211 to have development fees waived for an outdoor bar extension and approval for the city to spend more than $294,000 for a street sweeper.
The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Lompoc City Hall, 100 Civic Center Plaza.