By Nick Goodrich
The Antioch City Council met on Election Night, Tuesday, November 8th, for its regular meeting, and approved an interim moratorium on non-medical marijuana in the city, as well as improvements to the Prosserville Park playground.
Interim Non-Medical Marijuana Moratorium
With the expected passing of Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in California that night, Antioch was forced to reevaluate its take on the legality of non-medical marijuana, and take action to either reinforce its current stance or align with the state.
As an urgency ordinance it required four votes to pass. But, in a 5-0 unanimous vote, the Council stuck to its guns, choosing to approve of an interim moratorium on non-medical marijuana use in the city. The state ballot measure passed by 57-43%.
A Council decision in January of this year banned the cultivation of marijuana within city limits for any purposes, including for medical use. However, after Prop 64’s approval by voters, the state of California made it legal for individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use, beginning on November 9th. The sale and taxation of marijuana for recreational use was also legalized, but will not go into effect until January 1, 2018.
In the meantime, the Proposition allows for cities to regulate certain aspects of medical and non-medical marijuana, City Attorney Michael Vigilia reported.
“It really depends on which way the cities want to go,” he told Council, noting that surrounding cities like Pittsburg, Oakley, and Brentwood have enacted similar moratoriums to that approved by Antioch.
In Antioch’s case, the moratorium prohibits any commercial activity involving marijuana that the state could issue a license for, including outdoor cultivation for personal use and indoor cultivation for personal use that does not comply with state law.
According to the staff report on the agenda item, “the following commercial non-medical marijuana uses are prohibited by the moratorium: cultivation; manufacture; testing; retail; distribution/delivery; microbusiness; and any commercial marijuana activity that may be licensed by the state.”
However, the moratorium only lasts 45 days unless the Council has another voter to extend it. The ordinance reads, “This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon its adoption by not less than a four-fifths vote of the Antioch City Council but shall be of no further force and effect 45 days from its date of adoption unless the City Council, after notice and public hearing as provided under Government Code section 65858(a), (b) and adoption of the findings required by Government Code section 65858(c), subsequently extends this Ordinance.”
That will end in 2018, when Prop 64 goes into full effect, at which time Antioch growers will be free to cultivate the plants in their homes for recreational or medical purposes.
Prosserville Park Playground Improvements
The Council held an additional public hearing on the proposed playground improvement at Prosserville Park, and approved the plans in another 5-0 vote.
The resolution approved by the Council includes $50,000 to be directed to the project from the city’s Delta Fair fund, to help complete the purchase order with Oakland-based Miracle Play Systems, which will design and implement the plans.
The project cost, just north of $300,000, includes a $40,000 grant from Miracle, which is in the midst of conducting a statewide grant program to help fund improvements to California parks and play structures.
The $40,000 grant to Antioch was the largest of Miracle’s current grant cycle, city staff reported.
Members of the East County Regional Group (ECRG), funded by California’s “First Five” children’s health initiative, showed up Tuesday night to support the project and offer their voices to Council.
Nikita Crawford, Co-Chair of ECRG, said that families living near Prosserville Park are eagerly awaiting the improvements.
“The children that live by the park deserve a nice playground, not the old, unsafe one that is there now,” she said.
Crawford also noted that the idea of converting the tennis courts at Contra Loma Estates into basketball courts, which would not be possible until next year, would be good for the community as well.
“It’s what we want, and it’s what we’re interested in…it teaches good sportsmanship and teamwork, which helps you be successful later in life,” she said.
Antioch resident John Jones, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Childcare Council and a Chairman of the First Five Commission, also spoke to Council in support of the improvements.
In Jones’ opinion, parks bring more to the community than just a place to play.
Safe parks and playgrounds help children stay active and get outdoors in an age where videogames are becoming the norm, he said. They also provide a gathering place for the community, which inspires a more neighborly society and safer community for everyone.
“Having something local, safe, and clean is very important,” he concluded.
Other ECRG members spoke on the current status of the park, saying that it has become unsafe due to drug use and other illegal activity.
Better parks will help to revitalize the downtown community, they told Council, and give parents confidence that their children will have a safe place to play and have fun.
In the end, the Council wholeheartedly approved of the project, and granted the needed $50,000 to execute the purchasing agreement with Miracle Play Systems. They also directed city staff to look into funding for the Contra Loma Estates basketball courts conversion when that project becomes available.
Residents can expect the Prosservile Park improvements to begin next year.