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City Council moves closer to approving ballot measures on pot shops

VISTA – The city of Vista is fine-tuning a draft measure for a competing medical marijuana initiative to stay ahead of a qualified citizens’ initiative. In addition to these efforts, Vista City Attorney Darold Pieper is also drafting a separate cannabis business tax ordinance. The goal is for both items to be on the November ballot once the council approves them.

Andrea McCullough, city communications manager, said the last council meeting to approve these measures for the November ballot is on June 26. Council members agreed that they wanted to come up with their own initiative, which would compete with the qualified citizens’ initiative also on the ballot.

“The reason behind this is that the qualified citizens’ initiative allows for 11 medicinal retail stores, no criminal enforcement if licensed, and one parking space per 1,000 square feet versus five, no residential setback and 7 percent gross receipts tax,” she said.

McCullough said if the qualified citizens’ initiative passes, then the parking law would apply to medical marijuana retail stores.

The City Council agreed to propose two Type 12 cannabis microbusinesses, McCullough said. This selection means that the business must do at least three of the four items: cultivate, manufacture, distribute or retail.

Also agreed upon in the draft initiative were two Type 9 businesses, which are non-storefront which pertains to sale and delivery. This business type is not open to the public.

McCullough said while the city’s initiative provides cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and retail, at the same time it helps the city enforce the rules.

To date, more than 50 illegal marijuana retail stores have been shut down in Vista.

Pieper also drafted a cannabis business tax ordinance mirroring that in Culver City.

The council agreed to those terms. McCullough said that this tax ordinance increases models’ numbers by 2 percent on each of the categories for the November ballot measure. For instance, medicinal sales are 8 percent in Culver City and Vista is proposing a 2 percent increase to a total of 10 percent in this model category.

Also circulating in Vista and trying to collect enough signatures to make the ballot is the submitted citizens’ initiative. The initiative is proposing four medicinal and adult-use retail stores. It will also allow for production, testing and delivery in the Vista Business Park area, McCullough said. It’s also proposing no tax but instead a $10 annual fee per square foot.

“The City Council is meeting on May 29 during a Special City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Vista Civic Center to review the city’s proposed initiative and to approve the initiative or to provide further direction to City Attorney Darold Pieper in finalizing the draft initiative,” McCullough said.