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Marijuana, Gold Line and a new cop highlight council meeting

The Claremont City Council tackled a number of topics at its Tuesday, January 12 meeting including an ordinance on the city’s cannabis code, enhancing the Monte Vista and Base Line intersection and taking a first look at the Metro Gold Line extension through the city.

At the start of the gathering, Claremont’s newest police officer, T.J. Robinson, was introduced and sworn in by Claremont Police Chief Paul Cooper. Officer Robinson joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 2013. He was previously the athletic director at Our Lady of Assumption Church and an emergency medical technician for Cole-Schaefer.

Officer Robinson’s badge was pinned on by his father, Ted Robinson.

“I would like to thank everyone for allowing me to work in the city of Claremont and for a very, very good department,” Officer Robinson said.

 

The Claremont City Council passed an ordinance that bans dispensaries, manufacturers, cultivation and delivery of marijuana within the city, with exceptions made for residents who use it for medical purposes.

Local governments have until March 1 to pass such ordinances to keep medical marijuana under local control or face regulation from the state.

The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) was passed by the state in October of 2015. MMRSA includes three bills—AB 266, AB 243 and SB 465—which aim to regulate medical marijuana in California, including its sale, manufacturing and distribution.

The city’s municipal code prohibited only the sale and distribution of marijuana within residential zones, according to Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik, but did not address cultivation or growing.

During discussion at the council meeting, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho pointed out that the March 1 deadline—mandated within AB 243—was an “error” according to the writer of the bill, Assemblymember Jim Wood. An extension was in the works to alleviate pressure to local governments to meet the deadline, but more legislative delays eliminated that possibility.

“Today we learned that there are some complications on that. Some people are saying that extension may not be approved before March 1,” Ms. Carvalho said.

Ms. Carvalho was very clear on what this ordinance stipulates, preserving the “status quo” of the city’s right to ban growing marijuana in warehouses or large plots, as well as the commercialization of marijuana until the proper policies are created.

“By adopting this tonight, you’re going to preserve your rights,” Ms. Carvalho said. “If you did not prohibit cultivation, you’re going to be subject to state laws which are going to allow cultivation in the warehouses or open fields and whatnot. So you’re just preserving your rights tonight.”

Claremont codes stipulate that an individual who has a valid medical marijuana card may grow between six to eight plants for personal or caregiver use.

During comment, Councilmembers Joe Lyons, Sam Pedroza and Larry Schroeder all reiterated that the ordinance is just to keep local control, and that it leaves the door open for reconsideration in the future.

“I hate to sound like a cliché, and I think Gavin Newsom got busted for saying this, but, folks, it’s going to happen,” Mr. Pedroza said to applause from some audience members. “Marijuana is going to be legal at one point, and what we’re trying to do is have that local control.”

Mr. Pedroza noted that cultivation would still be an issue even if marijuana were fully legalized, citing similar regulations with alcohol.

“We have breweries in town and we have certain rules that they have to abide by,” Mr. Pedroza said.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

The council also took a first look at the proposed Metro Gold Line extension that will one day make its way through Claremont.

Habib Balian, the CEO of the Foothill Gold Line Extension Construction Authority, presented the proposal for an elevated bridge across Indian Hill Boulevard. The bridge will be built to alleviate traffic and to reduce “gate-down time” caused by the Metrolink and other trains.

The Indian Hill crossing will be the only grade separation to be constructed in the city. The rest of the stretch is proposed to be at grade, or street level, according to Metro Gold Line Director of Public Affairs Lisa Levy Buch.

The proposed Gold Line plans will be available for public input at two separate meetings in the coming weeks—one on Monday, January 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber and a second during the Village Marketing Group meeting on Wednesday, February 3 at 8 a.m. in the council chamber.

The city will take the input from those meetings and work with the Gold Line Construction Authority to provide direction, Mr. Pedroza said.

The Glendora to Montclair section of the Gold Line, which will stretch 12.3 miles, is estimated to cost $1.2 billion, the majority of which may be funded through a new sales tax in LA County that will appear on the November 2016 ballot, according to Metro. If the tax passes, the Gold Line will break ground in 2017 and is expected to take six years to complete.

 

A plan to overhaul the busy intersection of Monte Vista Avenue and Base Line Road was presented by City Engineer Loretta Mustafa.

Ms. Mustafa explained that the plan includes the creation of one extra left-turning lane on the westbound side of Base Line and the installation of protected left turn signals, or a signal without the permissive “green dot,” to cut down on the number of accidents involving westbound turning cars and eastbound cars.

Contracts were awarded to a number of construction firms, including $60,214 to Pavement Coatings Company; $18,707 to PTM General Engineering Services to cover the traffic signal modification; and $27,339 to Traffic Management, Inc. for traffic control installations.

The city will use $15,292 received from Taylor Morrison, the developer of the Citrus Glen on Padua and Base Line. An additional $90,968 will come from Transportation Impact Fees, money collected from developers of residential projects that are earmarked for work that improves traffic conditions, according to city documents.

The total cost to the city for the project is $106,260. Construction will begin on February 15.

The next city council meeting is January 26.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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