Several community members implored Seaside City Council to help end the discrimination of medical marijuana patients during a second public hearing on the proposal to amend Seaside’s Code in order to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
The board members demonstrated a change of heart during council’s meeting Monday by voting 6-1 to remove restrictions applying to parks and arcades that were added last meeting. Mayor Don Larson was the dissenting vote.
The city is in the process of amending the Code of Seaside, which currently prohibits any business that is unlawful, illegal or prohibited by state and federal laws. The proposed amendment changes the business license ordinance to include the sentence: “Notwithstanding the aforementioned provisions, a license can be issued for medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with the additional licensing requirements in Chapter 118.”
In addition, a new chapter regulating dispensaries will be added to the code. The chapter, as proposed, requires all medical marijuana dispensaries to be registered in accordance with the Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rule.
During the April 13 meeting, Larson proposed adding two more restrictions that would not allow a dispensary to operate within 1,000 feet from any local or state park, unless it is physically separated by a river, nor within 1,000 from any property with an arcade that has more than 10 arcade machines accessible to minors that are in operation at the time the ordinance goes into effect. At the April meeting, the board approved in a 5-2 vote to include Larson’s revision for public comment and ahead of a second reading. Councilors Jay Barber and Seth Morrisey voted against the amendment.
After Monday night’s public hearing, the board again held a vote in which the four other councilors agreed to remove the amendment before approving a second reading of the ordinance by title only. Larson also cast the sole dissenting vote against the second reading.
Seaside resident and activist Angela Fairless, Highway 420 owner Steve Geiger and other speakers drew a comparison between medical marijuana dispensaries and the sale and consumption of alcohol present in Seaside. They questioned what they see as hypocrisy that people can consume alcohol at multiple restaurants and locations, even those attended by children, but patients who need cannabis for medicinal reasons are denied the ability to even obtain it within city limits and Seaside’s Urban Growth Boundary.
The restrictions proposed by Larson seem unnecessary, discriminatory and stemmed from fear, they said.
“I think those fears you have are based on old mentalities that are going to the wayside,” Fairless said.
Since the Seaside Planning Commission did a majority of the work on the ordinance and did not see a need to add restrictions outside of what the state has addressed, Geiger said, he did not know why City Council would then ignore the commission’s recommendation and add “unreasonable and unfair” restrictions.
Mark Tolan, owner of Seaside Vacation Homes, was the only resident who asked the council to be conservative about allowing anything that makes people not be “in their right mind.” He said doing so was in the interest of public safety and keeping Seaside a “family friendly” town.
Dawn Greenfield, who used to own a licensed dispensary, responded “all medical marijuana patients have family. To me, that’s one more discrimination we need to end.”
The restrictions already placed by the state are “so intense,” Greenfield said, with every transaction being tracked, recorded and caught on camera 24/7. Proponents of medical marijuana are not asking for Seaside to take on “a crazy, Venice Beach atmosphere,” she said. “We’re talking about legitimate sick people that need this medicine.”
Eric Saucedo, who grows medical cannabis, requested City Council also be lenient on placing more restrictions for growers in the city. The Council responded they’re not addressing that aspect of medical marijuana at this time.
Barber, who also voted “no” last meeting, said he’s thought a lot about this issue and believes the Planning Commission “did a great job of crafting an ordinance for exploring a new area for Seaside.” The city can amend its code at any time, he added, to deal with unforeseen problems that might arise.
Councilor Dana Phillips changed her vote to approve removal of the amendment, but she is against a medical marijuana dispensary being established in Seaside’s downtown core. She will vote against allowing a marijuana business, medical or recreational, from operating there, she said.
The council will bring back the legislation for a third reading and possible adoption at its May 11 meeting.
In other news:
- The council held a public hearing on an ordinance extending the term of the Downtown Maintenance District and maintaining the rate of approximately $8.84 per linear front foot. The council held a first and second reading of the ordinance by title only and will readdress the topic at its next meeting.
- The council unanimously approved to accept a bid of $51,150.99 from Kinney & Sons Excavating, of Astoria, for the Quatat Park restroom renovation project. The project includes adding and replacing light fixtures, replacing broken and missing tiles, repairing walls, removing old siding and replacing it and other items. The rejected bid of $77,756 was from Helligso Construction, of Astoria.
- The council unanimously approved to give publishing rights of the Seaside Visitor Guide to MEDIAmerica, of Portland, for a three-year period beginning 2016. The project should be self-sustaining and require no cost to the city, except for polybagging copies to mail out. The other finalists for the project were EO Media Group, of Astoria, and NW Travel & Life, of Gig Harbor, Wash.
- The council unanimously approved a bid of $32,984 from Jason Kraushaar Contracting, of Warrenton, to remodel the Seaside Fire & Rescue facility. The rejected bid of $47,967 was from Helligso Construction.
- The council unanimously agreed to retain the services of Oregon Fine Foods to provide food and beverage services at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center for an additional three-year period commencing Nov. 21, 2015.