Numbers can tell a tale. Take for example the recent fact that 65 percent of Woodside voters participating in the Nov. 8 election voted in support of statewide Proposition 64, which made it legal to grow, use and sell marijuana for recreational and commercial use.
That compares with 63 percent across San Mateo County and 56 percent across the state, according to unofficial results.
These differences could weigh on the Town Council when it considers local regulations for the cultivation of the plant. The Woodside council, unlike its counterparts in nearby communities, passed a 45-day temporary ordinance on Oct. 25 that bans a) the cultivation of marijuana outdoors for personal use and b) all cultivation of marijuana for commercial sale and distribution. The vote was unanimous.
On Nov. 15, the council extended this temporary ban by approving a resolution to reset the ordinance's expiration to Sept. 30, 2017. The extension gives the council time to see how state agencies and other cities and towns respond to the measure's passage, council members said. The extension also allows the council to hold a study session to allow the public to say what it might want.
Communities had a window of time before the election to approve a place-holding ordinance that, should Prop. 64 pass, gave local governments the right to adopt regulations that may exceed those set forth in the proposition.
It's important to note that the council did not and cannot ban cultivation indoors of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. (A greenhouse is considered indoors, according to a summary of the new law published by the League of California Cities. Woodside Town Attorney Jean Savaree said she did not disagree with the League's conclusion.)
There are at least 19 properties in Woodside considered as farms, according to an agricultural production directory published by Dun & Bradstreet Inc. Some are vineyards, others involve horses, but perhaps marijuana cultivation could find a place alongside them.
A resident who did not identify herself said on Oct. 25 that she worried about a nearby vacant lot being planted with marijuana, followed by "a little stand" going up, with people "coming and going at all hours."
"I think that can (cause) some irreparable harm to our community if we don't think carefully about how it will be managed," she said.
At the Nov. 15 council meeting, a few people spoke, all in support of Prop. 64 but skeptical about local regulations. "Let's be real," the high cost of land in Woodside would weigh against starting a commercial operation, one person said.
The point of the ordinance, Ms. Savaree said, is to allow the council to hear from the public. The council could see draft regulations sufficient to engage a study session as soon as January.
Councilman Daniel Yost said that while he "happily" voted for Prop. 64, he had not formed an opinion on what local regulations might say. "A large scale industrial (operation) going up may not be appropriate," he said.
Councilman Tom Livermore noted that getting feedback from the community is the normal process in developing regulations.
Mayor Deborah Gordon said she's been getting "lots and lots and lots of calls" from residents wanting to know what's ahead for marijuana cultivation and use. "There is hyperbole all around us," she said. A study session "would be an opportunity to discuss it sanely," she said.
For the record, other local vote counts in favor of Prop. 64 were 68 percent in Menlo Park, 65 percent in Portola Valley and 57 percent in Atherton, according to unofficial results from the San Mateo County Elections Office.