Pacific Grove voters will decide on two big issues: cannabis and city council cuts. | New

America’s last hometown, the small town with an oversized city council that notoriously arrived late to the legal liquor sales holiday in 1969, may have been due to two major changes in the Nov. 8 election. . Pacific Grove City Council recently approved three measures on the ballot, two related to cannabis and one that would reduce the council from seven members to five.

The Cannabis Advisory Vote is PG City Council’s attempt to settle a dispute over whether the council should allow the retail sale of cannabis. Although a majority of registered voters in the city voted in 2016 for Proposition 64 which legalized recreational cannabis in 2018, the council at the time rejected allowing retail. The November 2018 election brought new cannabis-friendly council members, but when they voted 4-3 to allow a cannabis retail store, a faction of residents called a referendum. It failed, but it cemented the belief among council members that the only way to solve the problem is to put it to a people’s vote. “[It] makes sense because I think it brings finality to the question,” said board member Luke Coletti.

The advisory measure would be non-binding and it would still be up to the council to create a cannabis licensing system. A separate cannabis tax on the ballot would come into effect if passed and cannabis sales are ultimately approved.

Earlier this year, council member Chaps Poduri took on the task of creating the advisory measure in which he suggested allowing two cannabis dispensaries targeting visitors as well as residents. “Why give away our residents’ and visitors’ tax money and send them elsewhere? Poduri said.

To take advantage of tourist traffic, Poduri recommended a store in the Central Avenue business district and another in the Sunset business district near Asilomar. Two stores did not fly with the rest of the council, so the measure was changed to allow only one store within 1,000 feet of licensed child care centres, preschools, youth center and city schools. The buffer zone cancels the possibility of any store in the city center.

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The council voted 6-1 on July 20 to put the two cannabis measures on the ballot. The tax measure would impose a tax of no more than 6% of the gross revenue of cannabis businesses, which could bring in around $300,000 a year.

A week later, on July 27, the council voted 4 to 2 to place a measure on the ballot that would reduce the size of the council. It’s unclear exactly why the small town adopted a charter in 1927 that mandated six council members and a mayor. Most cities and counties in California have a total of five members. (Salinas, with a population 11 times larger than Pacific Grove, has seven members.)

“For a city our size, seven council members doesn’t make sense,” Coletti says. Some have argued that the size of the board hinders and prolongs the decision-making process.

Poduri thinks seven members increase diversity of opinion and help part-time board members share responsibilities. He also thinks he supports a more representative form of government. “A five-person board doesn’t necessarily get us there,” he says.

If passed, two seats would be eliminated by 2026, allowing current members to serve four-year terms.

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