Council considers cannabis ordinance, jobs, new garbage rates tonight

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez City Council will introduce an ordinance tonight that would regulate personal-use cannabis cultivation, then turn its attention to a proposed increase in garbage rates.

Currently, the city has an ordinance that prohibits indoor cultivation of both medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana except under the conditions established by state law, wrote Christina Ratcliffe, Community and Economic Development director, in her report to the Council.

Also banned are all commercial cannabis activities except for a pending application from Firefly for a medicinal dispensary, she wrote. Outdoor cultivation of cannabis for any use also is prohibited.

The moratorium on such activities was placed to give city employees time to draft ordinances that would let the city regulate them.

The ordinance that will be presented for Council and public consideration tonight is based on comments and directions from the Council, Ratcliffe wrote.

“This ordinance is not intended to interfere with a patient’s right to use medicinal cannabis pursuant to state law, nor does it criminalize cannabis possession or cultivation otherwise authorized by state law, and it would not give any person or entity independent legal authority to operate a cannabis business,” she wrote.

“Rather, the ordinance is intended solely to impose regulatory restrictions regarding personal cultivation of cannabis in the city,” she explained, adding that outdoor cannabis cultivation for personal use would remain banned.

Under the ordinance, marijuana could be grown for personal use in any private home as well as a home’s accessory structures within all the city’s zoning districts, she wrote. However, the city still would require the activity to meet specific minimal standards.

Among them would be limiting the quantity to six plants to be grown indoors by qualified individuals who live in the private residence. All growing must take place in fully enclosed and secured buildings, that meet applicable zoning, building, electrical and fire codes that have been adopted by the city as well as those of the California Building Standards Code.

The growing of marijuana plants can’t interfere with the primary occupancy of the building, which must have a ventilation and filtration system installed to prevent cannabis odors from leaving the inside of the building, nor can there be any “exterior evidence” of the cultivation that could be seen from the public right-of-way.

During a Planning Commission airing of the proposed ordinance, no member of the public commented, and the panel unanimously recommended its passage.

However, some members of the Commission said accessory structures used for personal cannabis cultivation might need greater security, and they wanted their concerns about cultivation being discernable from neighboring properties to be shared with the Council.

The city’s legal staff has proposed options for Council consideration and has made a few changes to the original draft of the ordinance, based on the Planning Commission’s recommendation, but Ratcliffe wrote that the changes are clarifications and none is a substantive change.

Cultivation is defined as any activity related to planting, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, grading and trimming of marijuana, and within the definition of the appropriate structures, the proposed ordinance would require a building has a complete roof enclosure supported by connecting walls extending from the ground to the roof fastened to a foundation and accessible only through lockable doors. The walls and roof must be solid that can’t be easily broken through and must be of non-transparent material, and the growing is limited to private residences or a home’s accessory structure.

The cannabis cultivation can’t be considered a home occupation, according to the proposed ordinance. No more than six plants can be cultivated per residence by an individual older than 21 that is neither a qualified patient nor primary caregiver, no matter how many people live in the home.

The home must remain a residence, with legal places for cooking, sleeping and sanitation, and cultivation can’t take place in those spaces. The cultivation areas can’t be accessible to those younger than 21, unless that person is a qualified patient or primary caregiver. In those cases, the marijuana must be used solely for medicinal purposes, the proposed ordinance said.

Cultivation can be done only by a property owner, tenant or property resident, and the property owner must provide written consent for tenants to engage in the activity.

Any cannabis waste must be ground until it is unrecognizable, and it must be mixed with at least an equal amount of other types of waste.

Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell will ask the Council to approve a list of jobs and salary ranges for the current budget year.

In her report, she is asking the Council to approve the positions of a new police lieutenant, with more modern descriptions of the job.

She also is asking for approval of job specifications for a senior accountant, water plant maintenance manager, water operations supervisor, water treatment plant operator in training, a permit technician Level One, an information systems specialist and an additional information technology administrator.

At the same time, she will ask for the Council to eliminate the job specification for assistant water superintendent. The Council also will consider salary ranges for the senior accountant and water plant maintenance manager and whether to modify the budget to accommodate the changes.

The Civil Service Commission approved the job specifications Nov. 7, she wrote in her report.

Also on the agenda is a public hearing of a proposed increase in rates as part of an amendment to the solid waste and recycling franchise agreement with Allied Waste Systems, also known as Republic Services of Contra Costa County.

In a report by Michael Chandler, deputy director of Administrative Services and Rica Guidry, executive assistant to the City Manager, the maximum residential, commercial and industrial solid waste collection rates would increase by 3.84 percent starting Jan. 5, 2019.

Other changes to the agreement would affect monitoring and reporting of oil and liquid spills from the franchisee’s vehicles, since some residents have reported seeing some of the trucks leaking liquids, according to information presented to the Franchise and Infrastructure Subcommittee during its Nov. 20 meeting.

That subcommittee agreed with recommending Council passage of the amendments.

The rate-setting process and methodology was created by rate consultant Crow Horwath and adopted by the Council in January 2000 and was revised in May 2011. Adjustments are calculated as 90 percent of the August to August change in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers in the area, and is capped at 4 percent, the pair wrote.

The hauler can seek increases at the maximum allowable rates, they wrote. Allied Waste made its request in July and revised it in November, they wrote. The CPI experienced a 4.27 percent change during the August-to-August period, of which 90 percent is 3.84 percent.

If the Martinez City Council agrees with the changes, it would mean increases of 75 cents to $1.50 in the rate that customers pay.

For the 1,387 residents with 20-gallon garbage cans, rates would go from $23.99 to $24.91 a month. Older residents get a discount; the 795 “senior” customers would see rates go from $19.43 to $20.18 a month.

The 3,021 customers with 32-gallon containers would see bills rise from $34.36 a month to $35.68; the 1449 with senior rates would see bills go from $24.26 to $25.19 a month.

Monthly rates for the most popular size container, 64 gallons, would rise from $39.55 to $42.07 for the 3,533 with regular accounts. The 662 senior accounts would rise from $29.68 to $30.82 a month.

Only 150 use 96-gallon bins. Their rates would go from $80.48 to $83.57 a month.

On the commercial-rate side, rates are based on the number of yards of materials that are removed once a week. Republic has 54 customers that discard one yard a week; that rate would go from $173.86 a month to $180.54.

For two yards, which has 58 subscribers, rates would go from $307.77 to $319.59 a month; for three yards, which has 20 subscribers, the change would be from $394.57 a month to $409.72.

The 30 producing four yards of trash would pay $479.18 instead of $461.46; the six five-yard subscribers would pay $558.97 instead of $538.30; the six producing six yards a week would pay $661.15 instead of $636.70; and the three producing eight yards a week would pay $798.30 instead of $768.87.

The staff report also mentioned customer complaints about missed pickups and the smaller number of calls about fluids spilled from Allied’s vehicles. While the company admitted it is falling short of its goals to hire and retain drivers, the report said Allied has made some strides to address customer service. Both the city and Allied have agreed to follow-up meetings with the Franchise and Infrastructure Committee in six months for a progress review, the report said.

Meanwhile, the company also has participated in a pilot homeless encampment abatement program, during which more than 12 tons of materials were removed at a cost of $55,000.

Chandler and Guidry wrote that a 1 percent increase would provide $90,000 to continue the program, but that staff doesn’t recommend adding the cost of cleanups to the rate base increase. Instead, Martinez Police and Martinez Public Works will focus on early intervention to manage encampments.

Allied Waste also agreed to free plastic foam (Styrofoam) recycling collections on a trial basis starting with the October 2017 Reuse Roundup at Alhambra High School, when nearly 60 pounds of the material was collected, they wrote. A post-holiday collection gathered nearly 100 pounds of the foam and another 600 pounds of cardboard, and other events have taken place throughout this year, they wrote.

The company has agreed to provide two post-holiday recycling collections in January at Alhambra High School and Hidden Valley Park and will include plastic foam collection at the March and August compost giveaways and the October Reuse Roundup.

In addition, nine special free pickups are available for residents – four recycling and yard waste collections that includes household batteries, cell phones and compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs; two refuse collections with up to three cubic yards allowed, two bulky item collections for such articles as mattresses, furniture and appliances; and one preschedule “spring cleanup” day.

Additional recycling and yard waste carts are available at no charge. Those living in multi-family residential complexes get three special pickups each year, two for refuse and one for recycling, the pair wrote, and those changes have been taking advantage of those opportunities.

Both City Manager Brad Kilger and Cardwell will submit an update on the Public Works Assessment Implementation Plan and request the Council to approve $90,000 in budget amendments for water system priority projects.

This, like some of the employee position modifications, stems from the plan presented Sept. 5 with the goal of improving and modernizing the Public Works Department. That plan was developed after an assessment of the department was completed and presented to the Council in June.

In the update, Dan Corinovis is described as a qualified expert in water and wastewater capable of developing a comprehensive operations plan and manual for the water treatment plant, a $19,200 job.

It lists the near-term needs of the water treatment plant, updates the specifications for assistant water superintendent, operation supervisor and several other Public Works positions; establishes a Public Works succession plan; and describes progress on developing a computer maintenance management system for the Corporation Yard and Water Treatment Plan.

Among the priority projects listed in the report are a review of the ozone generation system components and the timeline for addressing those components nearing the end of their useful life; replacing the network bridge multiplexer that would permit report operation of the plant; and adding to the city’s portable emergency generators for pump stations to handle such disasters as wildfires.

Replacing the St. Mary’s pump station hydro pneumatic tank is another item that could be incorporated in the system’s upgrade capital improvement project.

Cardwell also will give a report tonight on an update of the city’s electronic media use policy, indicating that all emails would be archived for 24 months in case the city receives a request under the Public Records Act. However, no email more than 90 days old would be stored on its server.

As a result of a recent court ruling, employees are being told that they may be asked to search their personal email accounts and texts for city-related business in response to public records act requests, she wrote in her report.

On the Consent Calendar, the Council will consider adopting the portions of the Contra Costa County Operational Area Hazard Mitigating Plan that apply to the city; suspending parking meter fees during the winter holiday shopping season; amending the Management Compensation Plan and salary schedules for 2014 and 2015; authorizing consulting services agreements for the design of the 2019 Senate Bill 1 paving project and for on-call engineering and surveying services; approving agreements with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration for implementation of the city’s Transaction and Use Tax; authorizing agreements for the preliminary design for the Ozone System Improvement Project and for on-call water system-related engineering services; and approving agreements with Hinderliter, de Llamas and Associates for transaction and use tax audits and information services.

The Martinez City Council will meet at 7 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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