FAIRFIELD — Solano County will launch an outreach effort to get public opinions on possibly allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in some rural locations and under what conditions.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed staff to conduct the meetings. The dates and locations of the meetings have yet to be set, though a county report proposes offering them in Fairfield, Dixon, Vacaville, Winters and Vallejo.
Supervisors stressed they have yet to decide whether to allow the dispensaries. The Board of Supervisors has planning jurisdiction over unincorporated areas only, not within cities.
County staff has come up with a list of 24 rural places where dispensaries might fit in with county zoning plans. It whittled the list down to 17 by disqualifying locations within 1,000 feet of a school or church, though supervisors might decide to use different criteria.
Possible locations range from several sites in Suisun Valley, including Mankas Corner, Iwama Market and Gomer School, to vacant parcels next to Thompson’s Corner Bar in Cordelia to Birds Landing in the Montezuma Hills to Interstate 505 and Midway Road near Vacaville.
“We’re not proposing anything specific right now,” Resource Management Director Bill Emlen said.
Supervisors Jim Spering and John Vasquez at the July 30 meeting favored banning dispensaries, though the board instead decided to impose only a one-year ban while it looks at possible regulations for dispensaries. Vasquez represents the 4th District, which includes Dixon and parts of Vacaville. Spering represents the 3rd District, which includes parts of Fairfield and Suisun City, as well as Suisun Valley.
“I find it ironic that the supervisors that wanted to have the ban each end up with eight possible sites in their districts,” Vasquez said.
Spering suggested a supervisor who supports having medical marijuana dispensaries in rural areas should have a pilot dispensary in his or her district – then this supervisor could take the credit if things go right. He wondered aloud jokingly why county staff wants to keep dispensaries away from churches and schools, if the dispensaries sell such a great product.
“The feedback I’m getting from my constituents is, ‘Hell no, we don’t want it,’ ” Spering said.
Supervisor Linda Seifert has pointed out that a majority of voters statewide and in Solano County supported Proposition 215 in 1996 to allow medical marijuana. If the county goes forward with allowing dispensaries, it must make certain the regulations are quantifiable and enforceable, she said.
Suisun City resident George Guynn during public comments reminded supervisors that the prohibition of alcohol failed.
“I really think when you’re talking about medical marijuana, people have a right to control their pain,” he said.
But rural resident Christine Kenaston didn’t like seeing that Midway Road at Interstate 505 made the county’s list of possible sites for a dispensary, about a mile-and-a-half from her home. This area is a gateway to the English Hills and Peaceful Glen areas, where the rural county has some of its more expensive homes, she said.
“To me, having a dispensary downgrades property values there . . . people are going to move,” she said.
Every Solano County city except for Vallejo has banned the dispensaries, according to a county report. Solano County plans to contact leaders from the various cities to get their opinions on the county’s proposals, given the proximity of some of the possible rural sites to the cities.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.