Council Seeking Public Input on Regulating Commercial Marijuana Cultivation

The San Fernando City Council plans to host a series of public meetings, beginning in September, seeking input on ways to best control and regulate any potential commercial marijuana cultivation business that could be opened around — or in — the city limits.

California voters approved ballot measures last year to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 18 and over, beginning in 2018. Proponents envisioned providing city, county and state governments with large infusions of tax revenue. Opponents warn of underaged children and teens getting greater access to a drug that is still illegal according to federal law.

Regardless of how people view marijuana, Mayor Sylvia Ballin said council members want to inform residents and the public in general about the laws that will take effect, and give feedback to city officials on how to regulate any commercial cultivation business operating within city limits that could provide San Fernando another tax revenue source.

“We’re not talking about dispensaries. We’re talking about commercial growing,” Ballin said.

“Our goal is to present as much info as possible to the community on what the laws are, and what we can and cannot do. There are going to be restrictions on where ‘grow’ buildings can be, and those areas will be identified at the public meetings. Not the addresses, just the locations where, within the law, someone could submit an application the to commercially grow cannabis.”

The meetings will take place in Recreational Park, Los Palmas Park, the council chambers and a regular council meeting. City officials are still deciding whether to try and do all four meetings in one month, or maybe one a month for four consecutive months. No dates have been set.

“Basically we want to do outreach to explain to people what has changed in state law and what is the city’s legal authority, from banning to legally embracing and regulating it,” interim City Manager Nick Kimball said.

“The intent is to show this is an industry that is here and we have to deal with it. Whether we allow it in the city or not, LA county could wind up allowing cultivation in different areas and approve dispensaries. They could still build around us, and it will impact our city.  So the council wants to develop a very responsible program.”

Kimball said “there’s interest” by city officials to consider an indoor cultivation and development business within the city limits. Some prelim conditions would include high-level security measures in place, top quality air-filtration devices, and the hiring of a percentage of local residents for jobs.

There is much to present and to discuss, he said.

“The council wants to make sure the public has input,” Kimball said. “A lot of it is education. People may be amazed in the amount of technology and the level of expertise now in the marijuana industry to minimize the impacts. You could be standing next to a building manufacturing marijuana now, and have no idea.”