The Angels Camp City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to ban outdoor cultivation of marijuana, marijuana distribution centers, marijuana manufacturing centers and marijuana testing facilities, and to allow for deliveries of marijuana with regulated conditions.
Derek Cole, the city attorney for Angels Camp, said regulated conditions on marijuana deliveries would include notification of law enforcement, delivery drivers must be 21 years old minimum, background checks on delivery drivers by law enforcement, and delivery transactions must be cashless.
It was a rowdy special meeting of the council staged in Bret Harte High School’s theater so there would be room for everyone. Most of the 125 to 150 people who came to the meeting sat in the back rows and many shouted out “ban,” “recall,” “resign,” and “vote” whenever they disagreed near the end of the meeting.
Some people in the audience repeatedly shouted over and heckled their elected officials. One person was escorted out by law enforcement before 9 p.m. and shouted “jackass” in Mayor Scott Behiel’s direction.
Earlier, residents of Angels Camp joined the town’s fire chief and police chief to roundly and loudly urge the council and city attorney to reject any plan to allow cannabis cultivation in Angels Camp.
“I stand tonight to speak to you against any plan to allow marijuana in our city,” said resident Jack Lynch, a former council member. “Our city voted against Prop 64 last year, 57 percent no and 43 percent yes. That vote still stands. The citizens you represent have voted a great big no on marijuana. You represent the citizens of the city, not the marijuana industry. We expect you to vote no tonight.”
An agenda for the meeting said city staff were advising the council to adopt an urgency moratorium ordinance concerning the cultivation, commercial and retail sale, and delivery of marijuana and related land uses, and approve an exemption from the state environmental quality act for that urgency ordinance.
“What’s the hurry?” resident Judy Axeman said during public comment in the theater. “Why not wait? Our property values, water quality, air quality and quality of life are all at risk here. The voters made it clear a year ago.”
Resident David White shared with the council recent news reports about a standoff in Amador County that stemmed from a search for suspects in an armed robbery at a West Point marijuana grow, as well as a search and seizure involving marijuana and weapons.
Public comment ended at 8:15 p.m. Derek Cole, city attorney for Angels Camp, spent a few minutes trying to answer a question about environmental concerns from Lynch.
“CEQA review is not necessary for this ordinance,” Cole said. “CEQA review will take place at the project level.”
“That answer is unacceptable,” Lynch said. “You are saying there are no environmental consequences from what’s in this document.”
Earlier, John Rohrabaugh, fire chief for City of Angels Fire Department, initially said he wasn’t taking a position on marijuana. He went on to say he’s been in firefighting 34 years and in his experience, when indoor marijuana cultivation is introduced into a community, the structure fire rate goes up 30 percent.
Rohrabaugh also said, “I’ve seen 10 houses burn down because of one house with six plants.”
Rohrabaugh’s comments to the city council drew several rounds of applause. Asked later what community had 10 homes burn down due to a fire in a house with six plants, Rohrabaugh declined to go into specifics.
Todd Fordahl, police chief for Angels Camp, spoke at length to the council before Rohrabaugh.
“This issue has caused more opposition and division than any other issue in 20 years,” Fordahl said. “It’s illegal under existing federal laws. Marijuana remains a schedule one controlled substance, the most serious controlled substances there are.”
Fordahl told council members they are elected to represent the majority will of the people in Angels Camp. He added that the entire marijuana industry is a wilful disregard of federal law and he said California is not prepared to regulate marijuana.
Angels Camp City Council members are Linda Herman, Joseph Oliveira, Scott Behiel, Amanda Folendorf and Veronica Metildi.