The City Council decided to start the process of regulating marijuana facilties in San Leandro Monday night.
Councilmembers rejected the advice of city staff that they enact a ban on pot operations within the city borders.
The Council had almost enacted the ban at its July 2nd meeting but delayed action at the last minute after a new California appeals court decision cannot completely prohibit marijuana operations.
Monday night the city staff told the council that it had two choices.
First, it could pass the ban -- even though it is contrary to current case law -- and then wait until it comes back into session in September to reconsider its action. By that time the California Supreme Court could send a new signal that cities can ban clinics. If not, the council could halt action to enact the ban
Alternatively, the council could direct the staff to start work on regulating where and how pot facilities could be located.
The council heard from more than a dozen speakers both for and against the ban. The speakers included two rival city council candidates, Benny Lee and Chris Crow, who came down on opposing sides of the issue.
Lee said the ban would send a signal that the city was against the proliferation of marijuana among youth. Crow opposed the ban and urged the council to start work on regulating clinics.
In the end, five council members indicated that they favored directing the staff to start the process of regulating marijuana facilities. The five supporters were councilmembers Jim Prola, Pauline Cutter, Ursula Reed, Michael Gregory and Mayor Stephen Cassidy.
The common theme amongst these five was that the council could not enact a ban that ran contrary to current court rulings.
Councilmembers Janice Starosciak and Diana Souza said they preferred the staff-recommended ban with the option of reversing course in September.
But with five members in favor of regulation, the issue was moved to the council's rules committee, which will start work with city staff to determine how to begin the process of creating zoning and permitting rules on where to allow pot facilities inside San Leandro.
In other action the Council voted unanimously to approve a plan to bring AC Transit's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system into San Leandro in a form that will minimize its impact on the north side of town.
The plan approved by the council calls the BRT's dedicated lines to end before Broadmoor Boulevard on East 14th Street. The BRT will continue like a regular bus to the downtown San Leandro BART Station.
The council's main outstanding concern is that the BRT could displace the 1 and 1R north-south bus lines. Council members want AC Transit to make sure there is a bus line that goes through San Leandro from Bayfair Center to the city's north border
AC Transit General Manager David Armijo, who attended the council meeting, said, "We're making that commitment to you."
Monday night was the last council meeting for San Leandro native Joyce Starosciak, and her colleagues read her a commendation for her long service to the city.
Finally, the council authorized City Manager Chris Zapata to negotiate a $1.5 million loan to help the San Leandro Unified School District acquire the Girls Inc. site across from San Leandro High School and turn it into a student health center.
The money would come from the city's reserve fund and the loan would give the city a higher rate of return than keeping it in a bank in Los Angeles, Zapata said.
Zapata would negotiate with San Leandro Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Cathey.
Cathey said there are 150 such student health clinics in California.
The project is a long way from reality. The school district would still have to find money to operate the clinic to serve the "social, emotional and physical health needs" of students.