LB Council Votes on Major Issues at First 2014 Meeting

  • 01/09/2014
  • Reporters Desk


LONG BEACH — On Jan. 7, the Long Beach City Council voted 8-1, District 1 Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske opposed, to place an item asking voters whether to tax future medical marijuana collectives on the April 8, ballot.

Under Proposition 218 all new or increased taxes must go on the ballot.

The city council has been discussing the possibility of enacting another medical marijuana collective ordinance since this past September. The tax would only go into effect if and/or when an ordinance regulating medical marijuana has gone into effect.

The tax would go toward the general fund without provisions as to how to spend the revenue. Only 50 percent of voters need to approve it for it to pass.

The council voted on a ballot initiative for a gross tax rate not greater than 10 percent, an initial 6 percent rate and an annual consumer price index adjustment.

Places that cultivate and grow marijuana would pay $15 per square foot each year. The city would be able to increase that number to $50. Collectives that can prove they are truly nonprofits would only pay $10 per square foot.

Also at the meeting, council members unanimously voted on a Housing Element for Long Beach.

The Housing Element is a general plan that requires that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community. The plan includes more emergency shelters and housing development near public transportation corridors.

The plan did not include requirements that developers set aside a percentage of low-cost units or tenant protections. Instead, the council included in their approval a requirement that the city staff study and report on a rent escrow account program, which would work as an enforcement tool for landlords to maintain their properties and bring them up to compliance from existing violations by having the tenant pay a lower rent to the city as a deposit, while the landlord fixes issues with their housing.

District 9 Councilman also tried to include by proposing that a percentage of property tax revenue be set aside for affordable housing projects, but was unsuccessful.

The Long Beach City Council also approved a code amendment that would allow electronic billboards as part of a cap and trade program, limiting billboard numbers in the city.

In addition, the city council unanimously approved a social hosting ordinance for adult providing alcohol for people younger than 21 years old.

Violators would be charghed with a misdemeanor and a fine of up $1,000 and/or jail time not to exceed six month or an infraction with a fine of $1,000.

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