Tahoe Ski Bum column: City of South Lake Tahoe’s cannabis conundrum (opinion)
Tahoe Ski Bum
What I love about writing these opinion columns is I never run out of material or ideas.
Dealing with the various agencies, politicians, newbies, oldies and everyone in between is like the never ending story.
Rodney Dangerfield said it best in the movie Ladybugs when he bought a house: “You wanna know why they call it a two-story? Because you get one story before they sell it to you and another story after you’ve bought it.”
That is exactly the way it is dealing with the old/new City Council and its attempt to be fair in the selection process for marijuana businesses.
I applied to be on the committee to help draft new ordinances and rules but I was denied the first time. I got a text from a now-former council member stating: “It’s not always about you Kenny.”
I protested, as that is not quite a valid reason — good reason for some but not valid in this case.
I was then told that I was not selected because they didn’t want anyone from the industry or future members of the industry on the committee. I was told there was a “rumor” on Facebook that I was going to open a retail store. Several others also were told they couldn’t participate.
Lo and behold and Lord Almighty, guess who got two of the three spots? Yep, people who were on the committee.
I had a meeting with our city manager and the response I am getting from the council (specifically the old guard) is that there was nothing actually put in writing barring people with potential financial interests from serving on the committee.
The only ones who believe that is the case are a couple of current council members, because that statement was made very clear at the beginning of the selection process for the ad-hoc committee.
South Tahoe Now reported on Dec. 12, 2017, that the city had created an ad-hoc Cannabis Subcommittee “made up of people without skin in the game, or those who won’t benefit financially from the outcome.” The information was said during council meetings at the time.
“No skin in the game” or “benefit financially” seems like a pretty clear statement to me. Also one of the committee members is a commercial real estate broker rumored to have connections with several applicants.
The Tribune and others are requesting the names of all the applicants, but are being forced to wait so the applicants have an opportunity to file legal action.
The city also redacted all the personal information from the applications so the scoring committee would not know who was who — which was intended to make the process fair.
No one knows who served on the scoring committee, who recommended them or how they were chosen in the first place. I actually heard a rumor that Mr. Mueller was in town but I have not confirmed it yet. (Yes, that is a joke; don’t take it seriously.)
Old council out and new council in.
I honestly believe that the only course of action for the city is to can the current ordinance, can the selection process and start over.
I feel they should adjust the zoning and not allow any shops east of Tahoe Wellness and keep them out of the redevelopment area. If we are trying to create a tourist friendly, walkable, bikable town center for families and the more well-heeled foreign tourist, I don’t think pot stores fit into their mindset.
No, I am not a prude nor am I against legal drugs. Anybody who knows me must remember — or maybe not — the heydays of the ‘80s and all the drugs we all did.
Another thing they should do is just open it up to everyone and let the free market decide. This belief is held by many in the government, including our city government.
The more the city tried to make this a fair and open process the more they muddied the waters.
Now all the hard work by the TRPA and League To Save Lake Tahoe has gone backward. By my estimate, the lake just lost 12 feet of clarity due to the runoff of flatulence methane and bureaucratic red tape.
Kenny Skibum Curtzwiler has been in South Lake Tahoe since the ’70s and he knows “where the bodies are buried.” Reach him at email@example.com.