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Pomona demands more analysis on pot measure; delay keeps it off November ballot

Pomona city leaders have asked staff to analyze the full impacts of a residents-backed initiative that aims to overthrow the city’s ban on marijuana activity, a move that prevents it from making it on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The measure proposes to amend Pomona’s zoning code to allow commercial cannabis use by creating two zones: a self-described “safety access cannabis” zone in the middle of downtown and pockets of industrial areas throughout the city. The city banned commercial marijuana operations in late 2017.

The council had several options when it discussed the measure at Monday’s meeting: It could have chosen to place the initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot directly or adopt it as an ordinance, without alterations, making it effective immediately or within 10 days. By requesting the report, the council will miss the Aug. 10 deadline to place the proposed initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

In response, attorney Roger Jon Diamond threatened to take legal action. Diamond is representing Jacqueline Dilley, one of two Pomona residents pushing the measure.

By requesting the report, Diamond told city leaders, “You’re basically saying you want to stall the matter and delay it. That’s just going to cost money.”

Diamond has experience to back up that claim. A yearslong battle with Upland resulted with that city paying him $180,000 in legal fees after the council delayed a citizen-backed initiative until a general election. Diamond, representing the California Cannabis Coalition, argued the measure should have been placed on a sooner, special election.

The California Supreme Court agreed in an August 2017 ruling. Diamond was allowed to recover his fees.

Pomona, according to Diamond, already had a staff report prepared about the initiative when the council discussed it during the June 4 meeting.

“You don’t need another report. It just costs the taxpayers a lot money,” Diamond said. “You’ve already analyzed the issue. The only question here is will it appear on the Nov. 6 or a later ballot? By voting for the report, you’re really only saying you want to delay the matter.”

Verifying the signatures

Diamond alleged the city is delaying because officials didn’t count petition signatures correctly.

On May 15, the group Keep Our Community Safe turned over 8,970 signatures for verification to then-city clerk Eva Buice. According to the California Secretary of State’s Office, the proponents need 6,256 certified signatures of registered Pomona voters to qualify for the ballot.

In June, Buice said if the necessary signatures are verified the proposed initiative could go to the City Council in July for certification and placement on the November ballot. State law requires Pomona take no more than 30 days to review a sample of 500 signatures to determine if enough valid signatures were gathered.

According to a city staff report, the random sample resulted in insufficient number to qualify for the ballot. “Therefore, a review of all signatures was required until 6,257 valid signatures were verified,” the report said.

Pomona had 60 days to complete this process, according to state election laws. Pomona then asked the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for assistance. The registrar found:

  • 6,357 were valid
  • 631 were invalid
  • 67 were duplicate signatures

After reviewing the results Monday, the council also determined the number of signatures was sufficient to be certified.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Liset Marques on Daily Bulletin

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Published: August 07, 2018

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