By Deb Murphy
Bishop City Council just said no to most elements of the state’s recreational marijuana legislation at Monday’s meeting, but will be doing more research and constituent-talking on indoor cultivation and delivery within the city limits.
Council wrapped itself around an axle on allowing cultivation for medicinal use late last year, in the end opting to take a wait-and-see approach. The waiting period has ended with predictions that Proposition 64, legalizing recreational pot, will pass in November. Jim Tatum, city administrator, urged the council to keep any regs simple. If cities and counties do nothing, state regs rule.
State legislation does not allow cities or counties to prohibit indoor cultivate of up to six plants, but does allow those entities to regulate it.
The council gave a resounding no to commercial cultivation.
Karen Schwartz was the hold-out on prohibiting outdoor cultivation for personal use expressing a concern that people should be allowed to do what will probably be considered legal in California on their own property. “I need to do more research on any potential negatives,” she said.
Schwartz also asked what issues had come up in states where recreational use is currently legal.
Bishop Police Chief Ted Stec said crime was up and the issues were complex. Stec will be forwarding information and stats from a class he took recently to the City. That info will be available on the Bishop website with minutes of Monday’s meeting.
Members expressed concerns regarding delivery services. Schwartz suggested restricting the number of licenses for the service.
The City currently bans medicinal dispensaries and has no intentions of lifting that ban for recreational use.
The only public comment came from a Big Pine resident who noted the potential for violence and crime, urged the City to “push back against the legislation.”
Bishop Tourism Improvement District Report
As the numbers started coming in this summer, Bishop is ahead of schedule in meeting a number of goals set out for the Bishop Tourism Improvement District according to Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Center Executive Director Tawni Thomson during her report to Councilmembers.
The BTID was approved in November 2014 with funds coming in from the city’s motels and hotels in January 2015. Over the past 18 months, the Bishop chamber has increased its presence at travel/sport shows and in major media outlet, spiffed up its web site, become a factor in the twittisphere, hosted familiarization tours for travel writers and bloggers and put 4-percent more heads in local beds.
In real numbers, that 4-percent added up to $664,000 more spent for lodging this year and an increase of $80,000 in Transient Occupancy Taxes.
“The hotel owners are happy,” Thomson said. Those owners contributed $300,000 in BTID assessments, basically doubling their money with increased occupancy.