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County Ordinance Limits Drug Paraphernalia Sales

Times Staff Writer

Tightening the restrictions on drug paraphernalia outlets, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Monday took action to severely limit the locations where such businesses may operate.

By a unanimous vote, the supervisors approved an ordinance establishing a series of site restrictions designed to prevent drug paraphernalia businesses from concentrating in any particular area in the unincorporated regions of the county.

Among other provisions, the measure, which the supervisors had approved in principle last spring, prohibits the stores from operating within 1,000 feet of any similar business or within 600 feet of any church, school or public recreation area. To prevent such businesses from intruding in residential communities, the ordinance also restricts them to certain commercial zones.

Although county administrators predicted that the measure will help curtail the sale of drug paraphernalia, the supervisors made it clear that they would have preferred to eliminate, rather than simply restrict, such businesses.

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“I’m sure most members of this board would vote to ban outright drug paraphernalia if it were constitutional to do so,” Supervisor Susan Golding said. “Unfortunately, the courts have said that there are legal uses for it.”

However, the “legal pressure” resulting from the county’s ordinance, Golding added, could gradually create economic disincentives that discourage the establishment or expansion of drug paraphernalia businesses. Besides imposing the site restrictions, the ordinance requires the operators of such businesses to obtain an administrative permit before establishing or expanding the stores.

Hoping to widen the scope of the board’s action, the county plans to send letters to cities within the county encouraging them to follow suit by adopting similar restrictions.


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