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Councilman Randy Rowse Makes One More Plea to Block Retail Marijuana Stores

Santa Barbara City Council Reaffirms Up to 5 Retail Dispensaries, Some Possibly on State Street, Milpas Street

Despite strong opposition from Councilman Randy Rowse, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve up to five retail marijuana outlets in the city. Click to view larger
Despite strong opposition from Councilman Randy Rowse, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve up to five retail marijuana outlets in the city. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

In a dramatic meeting, Councilman Randy Rowse made one last plea to his colleagues on the Santa Barbara City Council Tuesday, urging them to reject retail marijuana dispensaries and instead approve a fulfillment center that makes home deliveries.

He failed.

“It’s only about revenues,” said Rowse, who owns the Paradise Cafe. “You can’t point to a community that is suddenly better because of these things.”

Although the council approved up to five retail marijuana outlets at its meeting two weeks ago, Rowse pulled the item from the routine consent agenda and said, “I am going to beg the council’s indulgence.”

Rowse said the council rushed through approval at the meeting before Thanksgiving.

“We blew through it like water coming out of a firehouse,” Rowse said.

The City Council voted to allow five recreational storefronts, an unlimited amount of wholesale cultivation centers, and up to six plants for personal use at home, with only one allowed outdoors.

The retail centers could be located on State Street.

Recreational marijuana will become legal in California on Jan. 1.

Rowse said he doesn’t want marijuana stores on State Street and people shouldn’t be allowed to grow the drug outdoors either.

“If we allow neighborhoods to grow marijuana outdoors, we might have people sensitive to those odors,” Rowse said.

Rowse forced the council to take roll call votes on each item and the council voted the same way each time: 5-2, with Rowse and Dominguez in opposition.

Dominguez, who represents Santa Barbara’s Eastside, is opposed to a concentration of retail outlets on Milpas Street, where a medical dispensary is already permitted.

He also wants to push the minimum distance of a retail center from 600 to 800 feet away from schools.

Dominguez’s district includes Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara Junior High School, Franklin School and other schools.

The councilmen had backing from Pete Dal Bello, a Santa Barbara-native who owns property on Santa Barbara’s Eastside.

Dal Bello has been a vocal critic of an approved medical dispensary at 114 N. Milpas Street. Now there’s the potential for retail dispensaries, he said.

“What if the dispensary on Milpas was in your neighborhood,” Dal Bello asked the council. He also called out Councilman Frank Hotchkiss for supporting retail marijuana.

“I never thought a Realtor would help lower my property values,” Dal Bello said.

Dal Bello said he’s tired of Milpas and the Eastside being a dumping ground.

“The anger on the Eastside is growing, including among people a lot tougher than I am, some of whom, I don’t even know,” Dal Bello said.

Santa Barbara resident Bonnie Raisin agreed.

“I am totally against the ingestion of marijuana,” Raisin said. “I am opposed to dispensaries of any kind, of any number on Milpas Street.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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