A ballot item approved in a 4-1 vote at the November 13 La Mesa City Council meeting means voters will decide in November 2014 whether medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in the city.
Mayor Art Madrid voted against the proposal to place the Compassionate Use Dispensary Restriction and Taxation Ordinance on the ballot.
An initiative petition signed by 5135 registered voters prompted the council action. The number of petitioners calling for a public vote was above the 3041 signatures needed for a vote, a figure representing 10 percent of registered voters.
According to the California Election Code, the council had three choices: adopt the ordinance, turn the issue over to the voters, or order a report on the issue and then approve the ordinance or schedule an election.
Madrid wanted city attorney Glenn Sabine to prepare a report about legal implications of the ordinance. The ordinance would establish a 2.5 percent sales tax on cannabis products, with proceeds allocated to the city's general fund. If voters approve the ordinance, dispensaries would be allowed in "appropriate zones," locations in nonresidential areas. Dispensaries could not operate within a 600-foot radius of accredited K–12 schools and playgrounds.
In other action, police chief Ed Aceves presented a quarterly crime report that covered June through September. Overall crime increased 9 percent, from 30.2 crimes per thousand residents in the third quarter of 2011 to 32.9 crimes per thousand residents in the third quarter of 2012.
Councilwoman Ruth Sterling asked Aceves about adding police surveillance at Grossmont Center, the site of three robberies during the current quarter.
On October 7, a male passenger in a car grabbed a woman's purse as she walked in the Macy's parking lot at approximately 12:45 p.m. When the suspect produced a handgun, she released her purse.
On October 26, a man walking behind a woman near the intersection of Grossmont Center and Healthcare drives grabbed her purse at approximately 7:35 p.m. He then fled in a car driven by another man.
On November 5, a car passenger stole the purse of a woman walking with her two children in the parking lot near Fuddruckers restaurant, a crime reported at approximately 6:25 p.m.
Sterling noted that El Cajon police patrolled Parkway Plaza in El Cajon. The police chief said that the center paid the salary of two police officers. Aceves said the police department was working closely with Grossmont Center and had issued a press release with crime-prevention tips for the public.
Aceves promised extra enforcement during the holiday season, saying, "If you're going to Grossmont Center and think about committing a crime, you're going to get caught."
During the summer, police made 37 felony arrests and 7 misdemeanor arrests. Arrests included the apprehension of a suspect in the July 9 robbery of an AM/PM on Spring Street by a man brandishing scissors.
Also arrested was a male suspect in the July 2 theft of a laptop from a Starbucks patron. The suspect escaped in a Smart Car, said Aceves, and a witness with a smartphone photographed the license plate.