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Angels Council To Talk Pot, Corridor Plans, Business Taxes

Angels Camp, CA — As local municipalities continue to grapple with addressing medical marijuana cultivation, one city council may formally ban it altogether.

The City of Angels City Council introduced an ordinance at its Jan. 5 meeting that would prohibit the cultivation of medical marijuana within city limits, while adopting rules and civil enforcement, including abatement and fines or penalties, consistent with state regulatory laws. Under the city rules, all cultivation activities are banned, including the drying or processing of marijuana. Additionally, the city would not issue or approve any license, permit, or other entitlement to allow for the growing of medical pot within its jurisdiction. The ordinance does not interfere with the rights, under state guidelines, of qualified patients and their primary caregivers to possess the drug. If approved, the ordinance will take effect in 30 days.

Also on the agenda is a council action to approve the final draft of the city’s Highway 4 and 49 Gateway and Corridor Study for submission to Caltrans. The agency had provided $150,000 towards the study as part of a partnership planning grant, further augmented by a $37,000 contribution by the Calaveras Council of Governments (CCOG). Many public, stakeholder and technical advisory meetings, held over the last several months, contributed to the effort, which seeks to create an implementable plan for the long-term development of the corridor. Chief among the goals are to improve circulation, access and a sense of connectivity with downtown Angels Camp, along with the capacity to support multimodal transportation.

According to the meeting documents, the final designs for two alternative roadway configurations estimate construction costs at $12.6 million for Alternative 1, which allows for corridor access at Foundry Lane; $16.6 million for Alternative 2, which creates access at Angel Oaks. As detailed in the report, both alternatives include extensions to a Street A and Stockton/Demarest Street; a new intersection with Highway 49, south of Copello Road and roadway that would extend south to Highway 4; a bridge over Cherokee Creek; and a smaller roadway providing access to and from Frog Jump Plaza shopping center. The first alternative calls for a roundabout or signalized Highway 4 intersection at Foundry Lane; the second outlines a Highway 4 intersection at Angel Oaks Drive that would additionally require the construction of a frontage road.

A Long View Of Potential Growth 

The report additionally provides a quantified list of preferred land uses as part of addressing potential long-term development plans through the year 2040 within the corridor’s adjacent focus area. This includes 135 single-family homes; 70 low-rise apartment units; 380,000 square feet of retail/commercial space; 40,000 square feet of general office area; a 120-room hotel/conference center; and a 10,000-square-foot visitor center.

Also on the agenda is a planned discussion to provide staff direction on potentially increasing the city’s business license fees. For the past 14 years, owners have annually paid $40 to $100, depending on their business type, which add about $22,000 each year to city coffers. According to staff, recalculating the fees based on the city’s actual costs for maintaining regulatory compliance would decrease revenues by roughly a third, largely through lowering the annual renewal to a nominal fee. Calaveras County, which also administers annual fees instead of taxes, charges businesses between $76 and $82.25 when they initially apply for a license, and then $26 each year, thereafter.

Through the Prop 218 process, the city also has the option of pursuing the creation of a business license tax through a ballot measure during a general election. In coming up with a calculation for such a tax, the city could choose to consider such variables as gross receipts, number of employees or the square footage of a business. A staff-provided example indicates that even by charging an average annual tax of $80, the city would increase its revenues by nearly $13,000. Comparatively, the City of Sonora currently charges businesses an annual tax that runs from $95 to $425, based on the type of business; Jackson, between $42 and $84 with a surcharge of $5 per employee over ten employees.

In other actions, the council will consider a joint request by Bret Harte High School, City of Angels Police and Fire Department and the CHP for a temporary closure of Murphys Grade Road on April 7 from 8 until 10:30 a.m. to stage their “Every 15 Minutes” teen driver safety event. If approved, traffic during that time will be diverted at Gardner Lane to Dogtown Road and Highway 49.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Angels Fire House (1404 Vallecito Road).