Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Medical Marijuana Restrictions

A new ordinance limiting medical marijuana dispensaries, now being considered, would create a citywide cap of seven dispensaries with a limit of one in each of seven geographic areas — upper State Street, De la Vina Street, Mission Street, downtown east of State Street, downtown west of State Street, Milpas Street and the Mesa.


[ From: "Medical marijuana restrictions move forward" By Eric Lindberg, Daily Sound, Nov. 25, 2009 ]

... Another new restriction would require pot shops that are currently open but don’t meet city requirements to shutter or come into conformance within six months, along with several stricter security rules.

The ordinance committee heard from some community members who pressed for even stricter regulations — including a citywide cap of four dispensaries rather than seven.

But Councilmember Das Williams said restrictions on the storefront dispensary model that are too heavy-handed would simply cause patient collectives to spring up in residential neighborhoods.

“We cannot track or regulate those neighborhood-based collectives or delivery services,” he said, as they are permitted by state law.

City regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries came about as a result of neighborhood concerns about shops opening up in residential areas...

City officials have said one permitted dispensary is currently open, eight are in the approval process, four opened before the city established restrictions and are considered nonconforming, and three illegal shops are facing enforcement...

In addition to the citywide cap and shorter amortization period, the proposed changes include a prohibition on dispensaries in existing mixed-use buildings, more discretion for the staff hearing officer to approve or reject applications, a prohibition on dispensaries within 1,000 feet of Casa Esperanza homeless shelter, and the establishment of annual permit reviews by police officials and the staff hearing officer.

Even as city officials continue to discuss those proposals, they will also talk over a proposed moratorium on new and pending dispensary applications during a city council hearing next month.

As a result of a marathon session of the council last week, the city also appears to be moving toward a nonprofit collective model for medical marijuana dispensing, as opposed to a for-profit model.

Once the stricter regulations are adopted, the ordinance committee is expected to pursue more regulations that would mandate nonprofit collectives as the sole form of medical marijuana distribution in Santa Barbara.

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Additional detail from Noozhawk and comments are at: Noozhawk: changes_to_marijuana_ordinance

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Das Speaks Out Against Tuition Fees Increases

SantaBarbarasBlog.com: Das Speaks Out Against Tuition Fees Increases:

Letter to the Editor: by Das Williams Santa Barbara City Councilman and candidate for the 35th Assembly District


“As a teacher, former student and graduate of our UC system, I am sorely disappointed by the Regents’ vote to hike student tuition fees for the second year in row. Their decision displays short-sighted planning and a disregard for the hardships this will create for over 190,000 students and their families; it was also completely unnecessary given that both students and workers came together to propose viable and fair alternatives. Of course, much of the blame must be laid on the State Legislature for passing a budget that doesn’t address the educational needs of this State.”


“These fee increases will put the dream of a college education out of reach for thousands. Our higher education system is California’s economic engine. To make an economic recovery and compete in the global economy, California is going to need more college graduates, not less. Now is not time to be limiting access to our Universities and making it harder for our students to stay in and graduate.”


“We are all aware that times are tough, but balancing the UC budget on the backs of students was not the solution. Its unfortunate that the UC Regents failed to recognize what their tax on students will really do right now, which is halt California’s fiscal recovery and jeopardize our economy.” - Das Williams


Thursday, November 19, 2009

NP Medical Marijuana

City pushes for nonprofit medical marijuana cooperatives

By Eric Lindberg, SB Daily Sound — Nov. 18, 2009

Santa Barbara city leaders took a big step toward outlawing for-profit medical marijuana shops... by expressing support for new regulations that would only allow nonprofit patient collectives that conform to state guidelines.

After three and a half hours of impassioned discussion, the city council voted unanimously to have a committee tackle the difficult task of crafting laws that jibe with recently released guidelines from the attorney general’s office outlining exactly what should be considered a legal medical marijuana operation.

City officials had a bit more difficulty when discussing a proposed moratorium on new and pending applications for dispensaries, but ultimately agreed on a 4-1 vote to consider the concept at a future hearing.

“We’ve sort of let the cart go before the horse,” City Councilmember Iya Falcone said in expressing her strong support for such a moratorium. “We’ve been playing catch-up ever since. It’s time to stop. It’s just time to stop right now and take a breath.”

A shift toward the nonprofit collective model appears to be largely in step with state guidelines, a fact that nobody on the council disputed. How to reach that model is a more difficult task, particularly given the constantly changing legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana and the difficulty of spelling out the precise definition of a collective.

... Santa Barbara School Districts Superintendent Brian Sarvis, said storefront dispensaries are too much of a risk, particularly when they are located near schools or areas where children congregate.
“It sends the wrong message to our kids,” he said. “Too many of our kids show up high or with marijuana to sell. And yes, they tell us they get it at the dispensary.”

Local leaders have been struggling with how to ensure legitimate patients receive medical marijuana while still protecting neighborhoods from negative impacts for several years. A set of regulations went into effect last year, but city officials continued to receive complaints about the proliferation of new dispensaries.


... city leaders... agreed that... stricter regulations should move forward as quickly as possible...

“We might as well finish the improvements we’ve made to regulate the existing approved [dispensaries],” Councilmember Dale Francisco said. “I don’t see a problem with that.”

... Councilmember Das Williams said... stricter regulations should address a significant number of community concerns about medical marijuana operations — through enhanced security requirements, a limit of one shop in each of seven designated geographical areas, and a shortened timeframe for nonconforming dispensaries to come into compliance or shut down."

...

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For full text and numerous comments, please go to: http://www.thedailysound.com/111809medicalmarijuana

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Women Leaders Support

Women Leaders Unite in Support of Das Williams for State Assembly

Local Santa Barbara City Councilmember Das Williams reports today that his campaign for the 35th Assembly District has received the endorsements of numerous California women leaders thus far:

  • Patricia Bellasalma, President, California NOW*
  • Linda Joplin, former President, California NOW*
  • Janice Rocco, Southwest Regional Director of NOW*
  • Six Former Presidents of the Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee:
    • Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson (ret.)
    • Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum
    • Santa Barbara Mayor Elect Helene Schneider
    • Goleta City Councilmember Margaret Connell
    • Sharon Hoshida, Former Director of the UC Santa Barbara Women's Center
    • Janet Barron, President, Ventura County NOW

In announcing their support of Das' campaign, leaders cited his record of support on women's issues and his years of involvement in campaigns and other movements to increase equality, close the gender gap, protect women's rights, and create more opportunities for women to succeed.

"For years, Das Williams has been a leader on women's issues," said Patty Bellasalma, President of California NOW. "There is no other candidate in this race that has fought harder on our issues than Das Williams."

Bellasalma added "Women in this state need more than just one-issue candidates right now. To advance the fight for women's equality, we need principled leaders who have experience balancing budgets and fighting for health care, education, and jobs - - leaders who have a proven track record of standing up for women. Das has that history and is that person."

Das Williams has long been a staunch advocate for women. He serves as one of only two male national board members of NOW, helped start the Women's Economic Justice Conference, which is a yearly event that focuses on empowering women in low-wage jobs and led to the creation of South Oxnard's Centro Mujer. As a City Councilmember, Das helped lead the charge to increase Santa Barbara's commitment to youth and children, including the provision of free child care in Downtown, Westside, and Eastside Schools in the summer. Das has also worked to elect some of Santa Barbara's most prominent women leaders such Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, Santa Barbara Mayor Elect Helene Schneider, Goleta City Councilmember Margaret Connell, and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr.

"I am honored to have the endorsements of so many women leaders," said Das. "I have fought hard both in my political and personal life for women's rights and opportunities, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf in the State Assembly."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Second Barrel

The Carpinteria Valley Water District voted 4-1 not to fund the "second barrel," an 8,000-foot long pipeline redundancy project that the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board (COMB) maintains is crucial to the future reliability of the South Coast’s water supply.

According to COMB, "The Cachuma Project provides approximately 80% of the potable water delivered by Goleta Water District, City of Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Carpinteria Valley Water District. No redundant supply or pipeline exists to convey Cachuma Project water or State Project water to the the Goleta Reach if the South Coast Conduit is out of service, due to scheduled and/or unexpected repairs."



( Image courtesy of COMB )


[ From "Running Out of Time - Water Agencies Wrangle Over Reliability Project Financing," by Ben Preston, SB Independent, November 12, 2009 ]

... [Because] the Carpinteria Valley Water District voted 4-1 not to fund the so-called second barrel... That leaves [COMB's] other three member agencies —- the City of Santa Barbara and the Goleta and Montecito water districts -— to pick up the tab for the proposed $9 million project to be built in Goleta’s foothills or risk losing $3.2 million in grant money from the state. “I think it’s really shortsighted. They’re putting at risk millions of dollars of grant money,” said Santa Barbara City Councilmember and COMB president Das Williams. Carpinteria General Manager Charles Hamilton defended his board’s decision, saying that while the second barrel would restore the original 70 million-gallon-per-day flow capacity that the Tecolote Tunnel and South Coast Conduit were designed to support, there are other repairs that can be made in Goleta’s section of the pipeline. “The system has been altered by Goleta [in their area] over the past 20 years, and it has reduced flow,” Hamilton said.

... the Carpinteria Water District -— saddled with a huge debt from purchasing in the early 1990s what has turned out to be a surplus of State Water, as well as from a series of capital improvement projects to meet increasingly stringent federal drinking water quality standards —- balked at the amount it would have to pay for the upgrades, and decided to opt only for the projects it could fund from its own reserves...

What remains to be seen is whether or not the other three South Coast districts will elect to pay Carpinteria’s portion of the second barrel project, which has seen the bidding on construction already end. COMB general manager Kate Rees said that because COMB entered into an agreement with the state through the County Water Agency to receive a total of $15 million of state funding for South Coast projects, it could potentially be sued for a breach of contract...

[Additionally, Rees said,] the delay of repairs and upgrades to COMB’s aging system could cause water supply shortfalls in coming years. “We don’t know how long we will be able to meet peak demand in the summertime. We come very close (to not meeting demand) every year, so it’s just a matter of time.”

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Mexican American Bar Association

A picture of Das and friends at the recent Mexican American Bar Association's 31st Anniversary Scholarship Dinner:


( photo courtesy of www.Artisfactions.com )

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Marta Jorgensen Endorses Das

Marta Jorgensen, candidate for Congress (24th CA), has announced her endorsement of Das for California State Assembly District 35.



( Marta Jorgensen image courtesy of Jorgensen For Congress )


[ From: Jorgensen for Congress 2010 endorses Williams for Assembly District 35, by Robert Cuthbert, Central Coast Democrat Examiner, November 3, 2009 ]


Today, Marta Jorgensen candidate for Congress (24th CA), announced her endorsement of Das Williams for California State Assembly District 35.

Marta Jorgensen stunned long time political activists in the 2008 Democratic Primary when she defeated politically established candidates. She lost the general election to long time Republican incumbent Elton Gallegly.

"I heartily endorse Das for State Assembly for our 35th Assembly District,’ said Jorgensen. “His work on Measure C has been a real inspiration. I feel he will give his all to the job. We need to repair the broken government in Sacramento and I believe Das will work toward that goal."

Jorgensen, who has known Williams for some time, was impressed with his leadership in Ventura County on development issues. Measure C is a City of Ventura ballot measure banning retail stores, with floor space over 90,000 square feet, to sell groceries. The intent of the measure is to prevent big-box sprawl.

Williams is seeking the 35th Assembly seat being vacated by Pedro Nava due to term limits. The assembly candidate was elected to the Santa Barbara City Council in November 2003, then re-elected November in 2007. The 35th Assembly District is solidly Democratic making the real race the 2010 Primary.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Anti-Walmart in Ventura

[ From: "Anti-Wal-Mart groups vow continued scrutiny of retailer's Ventura plans," TradingMarkets.com, November 05, 2009, quoting from the Ventura County Star, November 4. ]


Supporters of a failed ballot measure created to keep Wal-Mart out of Ventura vowed today to continue scrutinizing the retailer's plans to take over the closed Kmart store on Victoria Avenue.

About 55 percent of voters rejected Measure C in Tuesday's election, while 45 percent supported it. The measure would have barred any new store citywide larger than 90,000 square feet that uses more than 3 percent of its sales floor area to sell groceries.

Although the measure did not mention Wal-Mart by name, proponents were among those who spearheaded the Stop Wal-Mart Ventura Coalition after the retail giant proposed replacing the closed Kmart with a 150,000-square-foot store. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has submitted revised plans calling for a 98,000-square-foot store, with a new entrance and facade, a garden center and realigned parking. The stores complies with city rules that restrict stores along the busy Victoria corridor to no more than 100,000 square feet, according to city planners.

"We will continue to work to make sure Wal-Mart has to adhere to the city's codes," said Das Williams, a spokesman for Livable Ventura, a citizens group that is part of the Stop Wal-Mart Ventura Coalition. A store boycott also has been discussed, he said.

Wal-Mart's plans also show an additional loading dock would be constructed behind an adjacent, vacant commercial building. The building, which Wal-Mart controls, likely would be leased out, according to a company spokesman.

The plans still need approval from the city's Design Review Committee. City planners have recommended Wal-Mart and the committee meet again in an informal public hearing to iron out details -- an invitation Wal-Mart is still considering, officials said.

The store would be Wal-Mart's third in Ventura County, joining ones in Simi Valley and Oxnard. Wal-Mart also has a Sam's Club in Oxnard.

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