Medical marijuana growing ordinance passes council |

Medical marijuana growing ordinance passes council

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Medical marijuana growers will be able to make it official in the eyes of South Lake Tahoe following a decision by the City Council this week.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance regulating the cultivation of medical marijuana in residential homes Tuesday.

The ordinance is designed to encourage medical marijuana growers with legitimate needs to comply while discouraging unscrupulous growers from damaging rental properties, said Mayor Hal Cole.

City of Angels 2 collective owner Gino DiMatteo said he supports the ordinance, which should deter people from coming into a town, renting a place to grow marijuana, damaging the rental and leaving, DiMatteo said.

The ordinance will also be a “huge sense of relief” to legitimate medical marijuana patients who are afraid of “people kicking down their door,” DiMatteo said.

South Lake Tahoe resident Jerida Vochatcher voiced the lone opposition to the ordinance Tuesday, saying the rules will worsen the situation at her apartment complex.

She said was outraged when she woke up Easter Sunday to the smell of marijuana coming into her house from her downstairs neighbor. She said she has been frustrated by the lack of remedies available to her because the neighbor has a medical marijuana recommendation.

“There are a lot of problems here that are not being addressed,” Vochatcher said.

Councilman Tom Davis said Vochatcher’s concern is legitimate and should be taken up by the council at some point.

Final approval of the cultivation ordinance is expected at the council’s May 17 meeting. Enforcement of the ordinance would not take effect until after Dec. 19. The city plans to hold two or three workshops to educated growers and property managers on the provisions of the ordinance.

Discussions on the South Shore’s medical marijuana dispensaries is expected in June.

Also at Tuesday’s City Council meeting:

• The council voted unanimously to send a letter to the League to Save Lake Tahoe Board of Directors asking the environmental group to reconsider what the council believes to be its divisive stance on development issues in the Lake Tahoe Basin and request the group consider the economic ramifications of its advocacy.

The city has been discussing the possibility of sending the letter for several weeks. It’s approval Tuesday followed a lengthy discussion between League representatives and the council over the city’s general plan update.

The League has been critical of the city’s possible passage of the update prior to an update to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s regional plan, which will dictate development throughout the basin and has been delayed for several years.

Possible approval of the city’s general plan update, which was scheduled for Tuesday, has been moved to the council’s next meeting May 17.

• The council approved sending Nevada legislators a letter supporting the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency reform exemplified by SB 271, which would remove Nevada from the planning agency’s compact.

The bill has been referred to the Nevada Senate Finance Committee, which has yet to take action.

Discussion on developing a communication plan between the city and California legislators regarding TRPA reform is expected at an upcoming meeting.

• The council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the city to install parking meters, pay-by-space machines or pay and display machines along Bellamy Court and Transit Way near Heavenly Village.

• A request by South Tahoe Unified School District for $250,000 for improvements at Viking Stadium at South Tahoe High School was pushed to a future City Council meeting.

• The council appointed Jerry Bindel, Jill Stanton-Bricker, Richard Derby, Brenda Knox, Jon Kingsbury and Daniel McHale to its newly-minted Fiscal Sustainability Committee.

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