Ban on recreational marijuana businesses OK’d by Huntington Planning Commission

The Huntington Beach Planning Commission voted Tuesday night in favor of banning recreational marijuana sale and distribution by businesses in the city. The plan now goes to the City Council.
The Huntington Beach Planning Commission voted Tuesday night in favor of banning recreational marijuana sale and distribution by businesses in the city. The plan now goes to the City Council.
(File photo | Los Angeles Times)

The Huntington Beach Planning Commission approved a zoning amendment Tuesday night that would prohibit the sale or distribution of non-medical marijuana by businesses in the city. It also would regulate the cultivation of recreational marijuana.

The commission voted 6-1, with member Dan Kalmick dissenting.

The amendment will now go to the City Council.

Kalmick said the city is devoting a large amount of resources to regulating a “boogeyman.” He said it is basing its decision on data from other areas that have legalized marijuana, like Colorado, but he said the city should conduct its own analysis.

According to the Huntington Beach Police Department, non-medical marijuana businesses and deliveries could have negative effects, such as an increase in robberies, thefts and burglaries, a city staff report states.

The department says cities that have non-medical marijuana businesses have seen increases in arrests related to driving under the influence, according to the report.

Proposition 64, which voters statewide passed in November, allows people 21 and older to use and cultivate non-medical marijuana, with stipulations granting local governments the ability to ban recreational marijuana businesses and regulate cultivation.

Planning Commissioner John Scandura said the problem with legalized recreational marijuana is that governments will be spending the next few years figuring out how to regulate it. He said Huntington Beach shouldn’t be part of the initial turmoil and should ban non-medical marijuana businesses now.

Henry Carey, a downtown business owner who attended Tuesday’s meeting, urged the commissioners to reconsider the ban, citing the healing effects marijuana has had on his epilepsy.

Under the amendment, outdoor cultivation of recreational marijuana would be illegal. Indoor cultivation would be restricted to private residences in an enclosed area with a ventilation or filtration system that prevents odors from leaving the home, according to city documents.

Marina denied

The commission unanimously denied a proposed marina after several residents voiced opposition to the project.

The project planned for 16926 Park Ave. included a public marina with a 66-foot community docking area, a floating pedestrian ramp and a two-story building with an office, public restroom and caretaker’s unit totaling 1,328 square feet, according to city documents.

Many residents said the marina would bring unwanted traffic to the narrow street.

Mike Van Voorhis, who lives in the area, asked those in the audience who opposed the project to stand, and about 40 people obliged.

A larger version of the project was denied by the commission and City Council in 2007. The commission cited evidence that there would be significant detrimental effects on the environment and on people who work or live nearby, according to city documents.

Mike Adams, the applicant working with the property owner, said the new plans addressed the past comments, but commissioners Tuesday weren’t convinced.

Kalmick said he had a lot of concerns about the project and said it might sacrifice the property rights of some in favor of another.

Chairwoman Connie Mandic cited several reasons she couldn’t support the project, including the narrowness of the street.

General plan update review

The commission also was presented with an overview of an assessment estimating the effects of sea-level rise on areas of Huntington Beach as part of an ongoing review of the environmental impact report for the city’s general plan update, which will guide local development decisions through 2040.

The assessment, by consultant Michael Baker International, concluded that Huntington Harbour and areas of Sunset Beach would be vulnerable to sea-level rise by 2030. Bolsa Chica, the Huntington coastal bluffs and the beach would be vulnerable by 2050, and there could be widespread coastal and inland flooding by 2100, according to the assessment.

A series of strategies intended to combat the effects was laid out at Tuesday’s meeting, including building new developments in areas that aren’t considered hazardous, putting up barriers between hazardous areas and existing developments and flood-proofing with sandbags and other materials.

Some commissioners expressed concerns about how best to deal with sea-level rise.

Scandura said he’s noticed that some homes in Huntington Harbour don’t have bulkheads protecting them from the water.