North County Report: New Mayor Could Temper Oceanside's Push for Pot - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: New Mayor Could Temper Oceanside's Push for Pot

The city also joins a growing number of cities interested in community choice energy, Esther Sanchez raised no money for her supervisor campaign and more in this week's roundup of North County news.
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Now that Peter Weiss has been appointed mayor of Oceanside through 2020, the City Council is poised, once again, to take on controversial issues.

During former Mayor Jim Wood’s seven-month absence, city staff and council members avoided marijuana and other topics for fear that the item would deadlock in a 2-2 vote.

A vote to direct city staff to draft marijuana regulations just barely eked by in December, months after the city’s ad-hoc medical marijuana subcommittee completed its work. The vote passed 3-1, only after Councilman Jack Feller, a longtime opponent of marijuana, said he could support rules allowing some medical businesses.

So what does the newest member of the dais mean for the future of marijuana in Oceanside?

“I will say this: I would rather the city take some progressive action on marijuana to avoid an initiative on the ballot, because you don’t know the result of what that will give you,” Weiss said by phone. “I’m opposed to marijuana delivered with your Domino’s pizza, although that might be more efficient.”

Weiss said he hasn’t heard anyone complain that they don’t currently have access to medical marijuana in Oceanside, where medical deliveries are allowed. He added he just doesn’t have enough information to make a decision about the comprehensive rules recommended by the ad-hoc subcommittee.

“I would like to see what the police department says about it. I want to see statistical analysis from other areas where it has been legalized [to know] the factual and statistical basis for doing what you’re doing,” Weiss said.

Four Cities Are Now Considering Community Choice Energy

Last year, the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad and Del Mar banded together to commission a study on the feasibility of dumping San Diego Gas & Electric and establishing a single community choice energy program, or CCE, which would give ratepayers the ability to choose the source of their energy.

That group has grown. Oceanside’s City Council learned in a memo last week that officials had quietly joined the study.

Nothing is set in stone. The feasibility study mainly looks at whether the joint or independent CCE program in North County makes financial sense, said Encinitas Climate Action Plan Program Administrator Crystal Najera.

Oceanside’s draft climate action plan estimates that electricity use resulted in about 25 percent of local greenhouse gas emissions produced in 2013. It also calls for exploring community choice energy to reduce emissions from residential electricity consumption.

Oceanside Environmental Officer Mo Lahsaie said the city was first unable to commit to the feasibility study because they didn’t have a firm cost. When the final figure came back in December, Oceanside was able to approve it within the City Manager’s authority, without having to bring it to the full council.

The costs so far have been shared proportional to each city’s size, but that could pose a problem for any possible joint venture if the largest, but poorest city – Oceanside – has to fund a large part of the cost.

North County cities are putting a lot of stock in CCE programs to help them achieve their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

According to the Encinitas Climate Action Dashboard, switching 80 percent of the city’s electric consumers to renewable energy is the single largest action the city can take to reach its reduction goals by 2030.

Najera said establishing a CCE program is roughly equivalent to all other greenhouse gas reduction measures the city can take.

“Of all the measures within our climate action plan, establishing a community choice energy program and converting to renewable energy would get us halfway to our goal by 2030…so it’s a big chunk,” she said.

Najera added that the dynamic around energy procurement is changing as more CCE programs come online, and the study will evaluate different structures for the cities to explore. One option is a joint powers authority, where the cities form a common organization, saving overhead and administrative costs, as well as boosting purchasing power for all the partners.

The study will also evaluate how it will look for the cities to go it alone. The results are expected to be released in June.

Filing Casts Doubt on Democrat’s Commitment

The latest filings for the District 5 County Supervisor race have been released, with the biggest surprise coming from the lone Democrat in the race.

Oceanside Councilwoman Esther Sanchez reported receiving no contributions in the second half of 2017. To date, her campaign has raised only $1,000, which came from a contribution she made to herself.

Sanchez didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said she was never really running.

“She was completely not sincere about it. No fundraising, no outreach, no engagement,” Lowery said.

Lowery said he expects Sanchez will run against him in November for Oceanside’s City Council District 1, though nothing is official. City elections switch from at-large to district-based in 2018. Sanchez has the option of serving out her city term through 2020 and waiting for the 2022 election or running for re-election now.

“It’s like I’m riding a bike, and she put a stick through my spokes,” Lowery said.

The dynamics of the supervisor’s race may also come to bear on Lowery in another way — by taking his title of “Deputy Mayor.”

Councilman Jerry Kern is one of two Republicans, along with San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, running for the county seat. Kern said he asked newly appointed Mayor Peter Weiss to make him Deputy Mayor.

“I thought [Lowery] did a great job, but it is a rotating position usually, and he’s had it for three years,” Kern said.

When asked if this was related to the campaign, Kern said, “It’s helpful to put deputy mayor on the ballot.”

For his part, Kern brought in about $36,500 this last filing period, including $1,350 from people in the cannabis industry. Kern said it was shaping up to be a defining issue in the supervisor’s race.

Desmond brought in the most during the period, with about $77,000.

Also in the News

A draft master plan for Palomar Airport extends the runway to bring in more commercial traffic. (The Coast News)

Carlsbad released a new version of its plan for the Village and Barrio that maintainsexisting height limits and calls for a pedestrian promenade on Grand Avenue. (The Coast News)

The number of homeless in downtown Oceanside appears to be falling, according to early indicators during this year’s Point in Time count. (Union-Tribune)

Darrell Issa endorsed Diane Harkey to take his seat. (Union-Tribune)

Del Mar says its new civic center will not be available for private events. (The Coast News)

• There’s a building boom in Escondido. (Union-Tribune)

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