CA: Mountain View Council Continues Marijuana Sales Ban, For Now

Photo Credit: Gary Reyes

At the Mountain View City Council’s Jan. 16 meeting, Councilmember Ken Rosenberg asked Chief of Police Max Bosel to come to the dais.

“Chief, if I ordered some marijuana and a man came here with the package, would he be arrested?,” Rosenberg asked.

“Yes,” Bosel replied. “You should cancel your order.”

That got a good laugh, but for the council it was serious business. Every council member agreed that marijuana, which is now legal in California for recreational and medical use, is being delivered in the city.

That despite the city’s moratorium on marijuana sales, which was due to expire on Jan. 19.

The moratorium was declared to give city staff more time to craft regulations for sales of marijuana in the city and to prepare a ballot initiative seeking voter approval for pot sales.

The council has shown over months of discussion that it favors marijuana sales in the city, especially because of the tax income it likely would generate to help pay for such things as transportation projects.

But the Jan. 16 discussion also revealed that the council doesn’t think marijuana should be grown in commercial quantities in the city, and has doubts about allowing it be manufactured — as in prepared for sale and/or mixed into food products — in the city.

Those issues are to be studied by staff and brought back to council later this year.

“We should continue the urgency ordinance, but allow deliveries, which will happen whether we allow them or not,” Councilmember Chris Clark said.

The council agreed, eventually voting unanimously to continue banning all marijuana activities except for deliveries from dealers licensed in other jurisdictions, notably San Jose.

On Tuesday, the council took additional steps to bolster city revenue. It accepted staff’s plan to prepare revenue measures for the November ballot. Mayor Lenny Siegel and council members Clark and John McAlister will serve on a subcommittee that’ll work with staff to come up with a plan.

To that end, the council appropriated $72,000 from general fund reserves to pay for a preliminary poll to gauge residents’ support for revenue measures, such as modifications to the city’s hotel room and business license fees.

According to a report from City Manager Dan Rich, “The City’s current Business License Tax is very low, generating approximately $250,000 per year with most businesses paying a flat $30, (plus an additional $4 mandated by the state for disability access). This tax has not been updated since 1985.”

A number of people from the audience spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, mostly in support of increasing revenues to pay for city needs.

Allison Hicks said, “I strongly support new taxes, because we’re growing as much as we are, and we’ll need sufficient revenue to keep Mountain View as livable as it is.”