Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

By a 4-1 vote Monday the Crescent City Council approved an ordinance regulating cultivation of cannabis for personal and medical use.

Community Development Director Eric Taylor gave city council a lengthy presentation, noting the city is not discussing any aspect of commercial cannabis.

In January 2016, the city banned all use of cannabis in city limits but Proposition 4 later allowed medicinal use. SB94 then modified portions of the California Health and Safety Code to allow for personal cultivation and keeping the city from prohibiting the growing of six plants per residence, Taylor said.

“For medical, it’s either six mature or 12 immature plants,” he said, noting cities are allowed to reasonably regulate that cultivation. In summary, he said the city cannot prevent people from growing inside a structure, or an accessory structure on a parcel, but can prohibit outdoor cultivation.

On May 17, a draft ordinance went before the planning commission in public hearing and was unanimously approved as written.

Taylor said the commission preferred the indoor growing option to outdoor, due to climate and housing density.

Requirements

The ordinance requires the growing must not alter the primary use of a kitchen, bathroom or living room. Any person growing must be a full-time resident of the location where it’s being grown.

The room may be no larger than 120 square feet and plants can take up no more than 50 square feet without stacking.

“This is to prevent houses from becoming grow houses,” Taylor said. “It’s to comply with the intent of the law, which is to allow room for personal or medicinal cultivation.”

Processing must be done in the same residence and the facility must be locked and off limits to children.

Lighting will be limited to 1,200 watts and all equipment must be rated for residential use to prevent overloading and fires.

Odor control ventilation is also required and must be filtered to mitigate odors, according to the ordinance. Mechanically, the device must meet county building codes, Taylor added.

Any accessory structure must be located in a rear yard area, and must be locked, secured and of solid construction. Growers may not use both a house and an accessory structure to grow cannabis at the same time.

There was much discussion regarding what materials could be used to build a greenhouse style structure, as plastic sheeting is vulnerable to storms and would be easy to break.

Asked by Mayor Blake Inscore about the definition of secured rooms for growing and drying, Taylor said it applies to any building legally existing, that contains facilities for sleeping, eating, cooking, and approved for residential use. He said the provision prevents someone from converting a house into a facility solely used for growing and drying.

Inscore expressed concerns with detached structures that may be “less than professionally constructed,” as homemade greenhouses may be easy to break into.

“If a person has a professionally made, 6 x 8 greenhouse in their backyard, that they are growing tomato plants and squash and peppers and choose to put two cannabis plants in there, with no power hooked up to it at all ... that seems to me, to be a preferable place for cannabis to be than in somebody’s residence,” Inscore said.

Inscore said he felt when it comes to odors, that would create the least impact on neighboring property owners. Taylor noted state law allows six plants to be grown in a residence, which the city cannot prohibit.

“We’re just trying to reasonably regulate it and make sure it’s done responsibly and safely,” Taylor said.

Inscore submitted the only opposing vote to the new ordinance.

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