The Fresno City Council took a puff, puff, pass on setting a limit on the number of marijuana plants an individual could grow Thursday. In a procedural move, Council President Clint Olivier removed the vote from the agenda. Attempts to return it failed.
The move was another setback for Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who supported the initial ordinance back in June to limit growing to six plants, the minimum set by Proposition 64 (the recreational marijuana proposition approved by voters last year). That plan passed June 22 by a 4-3 vote.
As per council procedure, the ordinance needs a second vote. That has been hard to come by. On July 20, the council voted 3-3, failing to adopt the resolution (Councilman Paul Caprioglio, who supported the first vote, was absent). On a second try at a second vote, council agreed to hold it over to Thursday.
At the start of the council meeting, Olivier announced he was pulling the item from the agenda, a right bestowed upon any council member. Only a majority vote could return it to the agenda.
During the discussion, Bredefeld asked Olivier his reason for pulling it, as the council has discussed this issue “over and over.”
“The debate that we’ve had has been inadequate in terms of coming up with a creative public policy that could benefit not just this organization, but neighborhoods in Fresno as well. I don’t think it’s prudent at this time to approve this item,” Olivier said.
Olivier also had issue with the ordinance restricting in-home growing for commercial purposes. He and Bredefeld then debated back and forth on the marijuana ordinance before a vote was called. Only three (Bredefeld, Steve Brandau and Luis Chavez) favored putting the item back on. It needed four votes, thus it failed. Caprioglio voted to keep it off the agenda. When asked why his apparent change from his June vote, he declined comment.
This may be a prelude for a larger discussion. Next week (Aug. 31), the council is scheduled to discuss an outright ban of commercial dispensaries and smoking marijuana in public. The Planning Commission gave it preliminary approval Aug. 2.
- By a 6-1 vote, the council affirmed its ban on overnight camping in public and private areas. The debate last week took four hours. This time, members finished in under one hour. The council and public still had questions on how the ban will be implemented while providing necessary services for homeless people. Esmeralda Soria cast the dissenting vote.
The following were unanimous votes:
- As part of the consent calendar, council approved unanimously a consultant contract with VRPA Technologies, Inc. to conduct a study on how a change in FAX bus service will affect the disadvantaged community. Bredefeld appreciated that the contract came in more than $100,000 less than initially proposed in May. The total cost is $333,367.
- Also approved was a $123,950 contract with Aegis Groundwater Consulting for quality control and inspection services for new groundwater wells. As GV Wire previously noted, Aegis is charging the city $90 an hour for “administration.” Public Utilities Director Tommy Esqueda explained to this reporter that it is common for the rates to be tripled of what the normal hourly rate would be to cover things like overhead, benefits and the like.
- The council approved buying $665,941 in carbon emission credits for the Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility. This is part of the state’s cap and trade program.