The prospect of a state-certified marijuana dispensary in Portola Valley located at the Nathhorst Triangle – the intersection of Alpine and Portola roads – elicited dismay from some residents in October 2017 after the Town Council decided against measures that would have delayed or banned such a business there.
At the time, the council considered existing regulations sufficient for overseeing such a business, but asked the Planning Commission to look at possibilities for local regulation, which the commission has now done.
Tonight (Feb 7), the commission meets at 7 p.m. in the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road to propose an ordinance that would accomplish what those dismayed residents asked for: a ban on marijuana dispensaries at the Nathhorst Triangle, the only place in town that could have accommodated one.
The area is ill-suited for a marijuana dispensary, the commission says in a staff report, in part because students from both Corte Madera School and the Woodside Priory school gather there at Triangle Park after school.
In justifying the recommendation, the commission noted that marijuana dispensaries are illegal within 600 feet of a school or day care center, and that Triangle Park, because of its after-school role, is "an informal but functional part" of Corte Madera School.
The proposed ordinance would allow personal cultivation – by residents at least 21 years old – of up to six marijuana plants, either indoors or outside.
As for commercial cultivation, the ordinance would allow up to 12 plants grown in areas zoned as either residential estate or mountainous residential, a category that encompasses most of the town. Parcels in these zones are larger and are "best suited for minimizing impacts to adjacent properties," the report says.
"By limiting the number of plants to 12, the subcommittee reasoned single-family lots would not be converted to a commercial activity and instead could accommodate homeowners who desired to take up specialty cultivation or (cultivation) for friends or neighbors," the report says.
Regarding those neighbors, among the issues that commercial cultivation could visit upon them: security risks, intense water use, risk of fire associated with use of artificial light and electric power, a strong odor and "uncertain legal status and level of anticipated enforcement."
(The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency calls marijuana a Schedule 1 drug – along with heroin, LSD, methamphetamine and peyote – meaning that it has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.")
The ordinance recommends that the town offer a limited number of commercial cultivation permits, that they be for residents only, and there be no on-site sales or processing.
The ordinance would not restrict deliveries to residents by licensed operators. The report notes that 50 percent of medical marijuana is done through delivery services, a percentage that is expected to rise.
A subcommittee worked with the commission on the substance of the proposed ordinance. Listed as participants are Planning Commissioners Nicholas Targ and Jon Goulden, Public Works Director Howard Young, Fire Marshal Denise Enea of the Woodside Fire Protection District, Town Attorney Cara Silver and now-former planning director Debbie Pedro.