Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Port Orchard Ponders Tightening Up Pot Zoning

The Port Orchard City Council will vote On June 24, on an ordinance to restrict marijuana retailers, growers, and processors from locating within 1,000 feet of home-based day care businesses. While there are restrictions about where marijuana enterprises can locate, home-based day cares are excluded under the state’s Liquor Control Board’s rules, while nursery schools and preschools are not.

On June 10, the city staff presented the revised ordinance for the council’s consideration. At that meeting, Development Director Nick Bond said the city wasn’t aware of the state’s omission of home day cares in May, when the council approved the current ordinance. What he meant to say, was HE was not aware of the omission — which isn’t surprising.

Bond is in so far over his head in what is his first job as a planning director, it isn't even funny. He’s barely worked as a planner, much less a planning department head. Makes me wonder if that isn’t exactly why Mayor Tim Matthes and puppetmaster Gil Michael picked him. His inexperience has allowed them to run amuck unchecked, proposing things any experienced planning director might recommend against. But that’s an entirely different story that deserves looking into.

On the surface, one would think passing this should be a no-brainer. Sadly, Councilman Fred Chang opposes it, saying in a Kitsap Sun article, that he sympathizes with daycare owner Terri Squires, who owns a home-based child care business inside the proposed 1,000 foot buffer, but said, “It sort of pains me a little bit that we might curtail activity in an industrial center where we have so little (industrial zoning.)”

Chang is obviously clueless about how economic development actually works, and/or the fact the city receives ZERO TAX REVENUE from marijuana enterprises. The Port Orchard Industrial Park is meant to be a place for businesses to locate that create jobs, and whose sales generate tax revenue for the city. Marijuana businesses do neither — and there are FOUR — yes count ‘em, FOUR — marijuana producers at the industrial park. The number of jobs created by marijuana enterprises in comparison to a manufacturing operation using the same amount of that scarce, industrially zoned square footage Chang is so worried about — including other businesses located at that industrial park — is laughable.

ALL the tax money marijuana businesses generate goes directly to the state, while local governments are forced to deal with the negative impact, and local taxpayers get to foot the bill. I’m not opposed to legalized marijuana, but do believe local taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to deal with the consequences of it while the state treats it like a cash cow with no responsibility for the outcome.

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