North County Report: After Foot-Dragging, Oceanside Gets a Pot Ordinance - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: After Foot-Dragging, Oceanside Gets a Pot Ordinance

Escondido considers joining Trump’s sanctuary lawsuit, Vista magnet schools result in a more racially segregated district and more in our weekly roundup of North County news.
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When the Oceanside City Council considered medical cannabis regulations last week, one complaint against the proposal was that the process moved too fast.

The police and fire departments said they didn’t have enough time to fully consider the effects of allowing dispensaries, and the city’s business license office needed another four to six months to create a fee schedule for new licenses.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez called the proposed ordinance “a rushed job” that didn’t involve the whole city staff.

The City Council, however, spent a year exploring the issue, through an ad hoc subcommittee created after voters passed Proposition 64. The subcommittee held eight public meetings to explore different aspects of a potential cannabis ordinance, including access to supplies, the potential economic benefits and public safety. The committee also presented its findings to three of the city’s commissions.

So why are city staff still not prepared to deliver firm answers to the City Council?

Don Greene, who provided much of the research for the ad hoc committee as a Council aide, described a city staff that dragged its feet researching the issue and said it came down to personal bias against marijuana.

“Someone who is personally against cannabis was in charge of the process,” Greene said, referring to Assistant City Manager Deanna Lorson.

Lorson acted as a point person for the report presented to the Council. She said the city didn’t research business licenses and the police didn’t research public safety effects because they didn’t know which aspects of the industry the City Council would allow.

For example, she said, they were unsure whether the Council would allow dispensaries and the amount of time needed to process the applications. “And the police chief could have spent a whole lot of time studying something that would never come to fruition,” she said.

Despite the creation of the subcommittee a year ago, she just didn’t have the direction from the City Council to spend so much staff time researching the topics, she said.

Greene, however, said police chief Frank McCoy declined to participate in subcommittee meetings when public safety issues appeared on the agenda.

In a memo to City Council, McCoy presented only anecdotal evidence from law enforcement agencies in Colorado on increased homelessness, crime, access by children and driving under the influence — some of which has been challenged by the state’s own governor.

McCoy couldn’t be reached for comment.

In the end, the Council agreed to set aside permits for the cultivation, testing, manufacturing and distribution of medical marijuana. Greene estimated that by the time local applicants go through the local and state process for approval, the earliest Oceanside could see any cannabis operators would be December.

Escondido Considers Joining Trump’s Lawsuit Against State

Escondido, long considered tough on immigration through several controversial policies, will consider joining the federal government’s lawsuit challenging California’s policies that limit police cooperation with immigration officials, the Union-Tribune reports.

Republican Mayor Sam Abed said the city’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and remove undocumented immigrants is a matter of the community’s safety.

But Councilwoman Olga Diaz said the city was “marring its image” on something it has no effect on. (Disclosure: Diaz is a member of VOSD’s board of directors.)

The ACLU put out a statement challenging the city’s reason for possibly joining the lawsuit.

“Supporters of this measure before the City Council may claim that this action is a matter of ‘community safety,’” the statement read. “But the city’s anti-immigrant history — including the approval of an unconstitutional ordinance prohibiting landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants and rejecting a home for children fleeing violence and persecution — makes it evident that its motives lie elsewhere.”

Last week, VOSD broke the news that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is considering joining the Trump lawsuit.

Report: Vista Magnet Schools Exacerbate Segregation

A Vista mother spent a year emailing the Vista Unified School District about something she was noticing: The magnet school her child attended in a poorer neighborhood was seemingly displacing local students, who now faced a 40-minute commute.

A new report by inewsource finds that magnet schools are resulting in more racial segregation at Vista Unified despite their origins as a tool used to help improve student diversity.

“The share of Latino middle school students in Vista Unified increased about 12 percent,” since the 2010-11 school year, inewsource reports, while “The share of white students decreased about 20 percent.”

The district is in the middle of a push to boost overall enrollment, after losing hundreds of students over the past few years, and one teacher said he thinks the displacement of students was an unintended consequence of those policies.

“I don’t think anybody is trying to do harm. I think they’re trying to figure out a way to make Vista a better place and provide opportunities,” Patrick Emaus told inewsource. “But it’s such a weird situation where if you try one thing there are all these consequences.”

Also in the News

Solana Beach is considering building affordable housing at the site of City Hall to meet its housing goals. (The Coast News)

Teens are asking Rep. Darrell Issa to hold a town hall on school shootings. (Union-Tribune)

Encinitas may have to borrow $30 million to complete the recently approved revamp of Coast Highway in Leucadia. (Union-Tribune)

Carlsbad said no to a four-story mixed-use project next to the train station in the village, because it was too tall. (The Coast News)

Former Oceanside Mayor Terry Johnson will run for City Council. (Union-Tribune)

The Pala Band is fighting off a proposed 800-home development near its casino. (Union-Tribune)

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