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Calaveras Tussles With Permanent Cannabis Rules, Board Leadership

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San Andreas, CA – At two separate meetings in the coming week the Calaveras supervisors will be choosing a new board chair and new directions involving commercial cannabis.

The current Board Chair and District 3 Supervisor Michael Oliveira will be campaigning to retain his seat in what appears to far to be a three-way race while District 2 Vice Chair Jack Garamendi, whose jurisdiction includes far and away the highest number of registered grows, may himself be facing a potential recall spearheaded by a group of cannabis ban proponents. While Calaveras supervisors in the past have generally elected to elevate the Vice Chair to lead the board, in the Butte Fire aftermath, former District 1 Supervisor and Board Chair Clif Edsen, who was leading recovery efforts at the time, successfully convinced his colleagues to allow him a second year at the helm.

In an interview with Clarke Broadcasting, CAO Tim Lutz signals that he has no idea as to how the board leadership determinations will play out although he shares that it will top a Tuesday agenda next week that is likely to also contain numerous routine administrative matters.

‘Calaveras Cannabis’ Decisions Loom

Next Wednesday’s special session, as Lutz confirms, will be completely devoted to attempting to approve either a permanent cannabis ordinance with either very strict regulatory conditions or an outright ban that will replace the county’s urgency ordinance that is set to expire on Valentine’s Day. If the board, which largely remains split over the issue, fails to adopt local rules, the county would then default to state rules.

At the last special meeting ahead of the holiday break the board spent a significant portion of time hearing from county staff and other officials deliberating on the key points within any type of regulatory ordinance that it might potentially adopt, as Lutz recounts. He states, “What will be coming back next Wednesday is an updated draft version with all the changes discussed — as well as the alternative ban ordinance that the board could still consider.” Such a decision, which requires at least a 3-2 vote, also needs 30 days time before it can be enacted.

Asked if he believes the supervisors will come to an ultimate decision that day, Lutz comments, “The board absolutely recognizes the time sensitivity of needing to get something passed so it can be in effect when the urgency ordinance is expiring.” The board is undoubtedly feeling close to the end of a short rope. With next Wednesday being Jan. 10, there are no more than two more business days to come to a decision ahead of the required 30-day enactment period.

Other Top Priorities For 2018 

Once a permanent ordinance is decided, Lutz says the county will have to deal with whatever process and structuring changes become necessary. Other beginning of the year lead hurdles, according to Lutz, include addressing the mid-year budget at the end of February while continuing to closely look at revenue numbers. “For me, it is how we can focus on continually either preserving or maximizing the use of the revenue that we receive or identifying ways to productively generate revenue,” he notes.

He continues, “The General Plan update is a huge priority and the Planning Department has been, let’s say pretty distracted with cannabis just because of the time that it has consumed. But we really need to get back to business.”

Lutz adds that a formal announcement will be shortly forthcoming about the county’s new economic development director. Chosen just before the holiday break the new yet to be publicly announced hire will before the end of the month begin in the new post.

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