I'm Just Sayin': Eliminating dispensaries

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Mike Antonovich to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.

Once county staff has drafted an ordinance, it must be approved by the Regional Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors. This process could take three or four months, and the final ordinance will affect the unincorporated portion of La Crescenta.

Now that Los Angeles has closed 11 dispensaries in Sunland-Tujunga, those businesses will be looking for new places to open. Given that Glendale has a ban on dispensaries, La Crescenta is a likely target.

I've spoken with Cindy Cleghorn, the secretary of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, who says that the dispensaries have been a big problem for them.

One is across the street from her business, so she sees first-hand the constant stream of customers for 10 to 12 hours a day, sometimes with a line reaching out the front door. The high number of patrons use up the available parking, which affects neighboring businesses.

She reports that tagging from gangs and loitering have increased and made the area more unsafe.

In the past two weeks, two people have been shot and killed and another two were wounded in robberies of dispensaries in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Echo Park. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Police Capt. Kevin McClure called this a "disturbing trend."

We don't need these kinds of problems in La Crescenta.

There have been cases in the past of businesses on Foothill Boulevard opening without the proper permits.

Currently there is a storefront church that opened more than a year ago without the required conditional-use permit. They were cited last summer and are awaiting a hearing to determine whether they will be allowed to stay. Yet all this time they have been allowed to operate out of compliance.

Likewise, if a dispensary opened illegally under the current ordinance that requires the same permit, we could expect the same lengthy process to remove them.

I'm not going to discuss whether marijuana use should be legalized. That will be decided by California voters in the fall. The issue to me is whether we want this kind of business on Foothill Bouelvard.

It's been widely reported that the Crescenta Valley has a drug problem. Having dispensaries so readily available surely wouldn't help that situation.

Antonovich stated in the L.A. Times that this ordinance would protect our safety and property values. Thank you, Antonovich, for having the foresight to nip this in the bud.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is a former Crescenta Valley Town Council member and on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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