The Sacramento County Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, city officials and the region’s top law enforcement representative are beginning to plant the seeds for both complying with and addressing potential impacts from the legalization of marijuana under the passage of Proposition 64 in November.
On Monday, March 27, the County Planning Commission will be finalizing recommendations for zoning changes that, if adopted by the full board of supervisors at its April 11 meeting, will officially ban all commercial sales of marijuana in the county, effectively criminalizing the establishment of so-called pot dispensaries, as well as pot sales through delivery services, commercial growing, and other means. It’s a bolstering of laws already in place, but necessary for the county as other changes under the law take effect.
In addition, the full board of supervisors will be discussing cleanup language for existing zoning laws now governing medicinal marijuana use and cultivation in private residences in order to bring county codes into compliance with laws now permitting the recreational use and cultivation of marijuana under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).
With its passage, the law makes it legal for all adults 21 and over to now grow up to nine pot plans inside a private residence or accessory unit, such as a small green house. The county previously amended zoning laws to allow for the personal use and cultivation of medicinal marijuana, however existing “permissive zoning” code on recreational pot use and cultivation still prohibits it.
“We’ll be taking up the zone amendment and talking about clean up language in order to come into compliance with the new law and take measures to deal with commercial marijuana use and growing,” said County Supervisor Sue Frost.
The AUMA puts the state of California in charge of governing the licensing process for commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana and it has until January 1, 2018 to accept applications for that process. The state, however, is leaving it up to the local municipalities to adopt and enforce local ordinances aimed at either regulating or, if they chose to, as Sacramento has, prohibit all commercial marijuana sales “activities.”
Once zoning code amendments are in place, the county supervisors will also likely have to contend with the thorny issue of compliance with the new law and enforcement of violations and related crime as they may or may not come into conflict with laws set by the federal government, which still classifies marijuana as an illegal Class 1 controlled substance.
“I can only speak for myself, but we may be having conversations at some point about crime and other issues, and I want to proceed very carefully because we do not jeopardize the funding we get for several programs from the federal government,” Frost said. “Marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance and is still illegal as far as the federal government is concerned.”
That said, Frost added she has also begun talking with local law enforcement about the likely future impact on local crime and other issues by the legalization of commercial marijuana sales in other counties.
“It’s bound to spill over,” said Frost. “But, I’m from Citrus Heights, and here we weigh out all of our options very carefully before we make any decisions. That same principal will apply here as far as I’m concerned. I can’t speak for the entire board, but that’s my approach.”
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she has already made it clear she sees a through line between the passage of Prop. 64 and Prop. 57, which allowed for the early release of some convicted felons on incarcerated for what are considered “lesser crimes,” many drug- and alcohol-related, and the potential myriad problems to come with the new laws on pot use in the state.
“I’m planning to be there at the meeting on the 11th to make sure the board of supervisors understands all of our concerns about what this passage means with respect to crime,” said Schubert. “What this law effectively does is not only makes it a misdemeanor for having just a little over the limit, but it’s still just a flat misdemeanor even if you are caught growing mass quantities over the limit.”
In addition, said Schubert, there are the potential side-effects impacting community services and its residents, including a likely uptick in the number of DUIs on marijuana, underage use of marijuana, emergency room visits, car accidents, and spikes in crime.
“I am concerned about crime going up, I’m concerned about hospital visits going up due to accidents, the number of DUI offences under the influence of marijuana going up, and all the things that relate to that,” Schubert said. “Now, we are going to comply with the laws are they are written, but we also want to figure out how we are going to effectively plan for these other issues going forward.”
Beginning April 1, 2017, sales of lead-acid batteries will be subject to two $1 fees. Manufacturers will pay a $1 fee for every lead-acid battery sold to a retailer, wholesaler, distributor, or other person for retail sale in California. Consumers will pay a $1 fee on each purchase of a replacement lead-acid battery.
As signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, the Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Act of 2016 requires retailers to register, collect, and remit the fee to the Board of Equalization (BOE); and manufacturers to register and remit the fee to the BOE. Manufacturers who are considered retailers are required to collect the $1 California battery fee as well as pay the $1 manufacturer battery fee. Retailers who purchase and import lead-acid batteries from a manufacturer who is not subject to the jurisdiction of California must pay the $1 manufacturer battery fee.
A lead-acid battery – the type commonly found in vehicles – is any battery that weighs more than five kilograms (11 pounds), is composed primarily of both lead and sulfuric acid, and has a capacity of six or more volts. Retailers will charge a refundable deposit, subject to sales tax, when a consumer purchases a replacement lead-acid battery and does not simultaneously provide a used lead-acid battery to the dealer.
The fee is expected to generate $26 million annually. Revenues collected will be deposited into the Lead-Acid Battery Cleanup Fund, where they will be used to investigate, evaluate, clean up, remediate, remove, monitor, or otherwise respond to any area in the state that may have been contaminated by the operation of a lead-acid battery recycling facility.
Beginning April 1, 2022, manufacturers will no longer be required to collect and remit the $1 fee. Instead, consumers will pay a $2 fee upon purchase of a replacement lead-acid battery.
After hearing heartbreaking stories of a mother’s grief over the loss of her daughter and a young man who suffered spinal cord degeneration and was confined to a wheelchair, both due to nitrous oxide abuse, members of the Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously passed Senator Jim Nielsen’s (R-Tehama) measure to prohibit smoke shops and head shops from selling these “whippits.”
“There is no legitimate reason for smoke shops to sell nitrous oxide,” said Senator Jim Nielsen. “Young people buy and inhale this gas to get ‘high’ because they mistakenly believe it is a ‘safe’ substance.”
Mary Anne Rand, mother of Camille Rand who was killed in a fatal car accident by a driver who was believed to be high on nitrous oxide, said, “My daughter’s life was cut short at the age of 26. I hope Senator Nielsen’s bill becomes law to reduce the chance of any other parent suffering the loss of their child.”
Nitrous oxide use is difficult to prove because it does not stay in a user’s bloodstream for long.
Ms. Rand added, “Because deaths and injuries are just ‘believed to be attributable to’ I am afraid the extent of the problem is underreported and not statistically available.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 631, if passed and signed into law, would prohibit smoke and head shops from selling nitrous oxide.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse recreational use of nitrous oxide can lead to “death from lack of oxygen to the brain, altered perception and motor coordination, loss of sensation, limb spasms, blackouts caused by blood pressure changes, and depression of heart muscles functioning.”
“My concern about whippits, and the damage they cause to the central nervous system, led me to reach out to Senator Nielsen and share my story. I view the abuse of this substance as a public health hazard,” said Mr. Patrick O’Brien, father of a 20-year-old whose spinal cord degenerated and was confined to a wheelchair.
Senate Bill 631 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee unanimously. It will now move onto the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development for its consideration.
Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at email@example.com.
California State Parks and Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) are proud to present a vibrant, educational and fun three-day event -- “Traders’ Faire - California’s First Mall” -- on Friday, April 7 through Sunday, April 9, 2017. Offered just once a year, this lively and highly anticipated interpretive event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and offers unique insights into the early days of the Fort when it served as a central and critically important trading post. Fort visitors will be delighted to see the recently completed restoration of the historic walls, gates and blacksmith shop plus have the opportunity to step back in time to experience what California’s first shopping mall was like in the 1840s.
While it is common knowledge that Sutter’s Fort marked the beginning of Sacramento, few people understand how the Fort served as a thriving commercial center in the early days of the Gold Rush. In fact, it was the only trading center on the way to the gold fields and literally thousands of gold miners passed through the Fort to purchase needed supplies from a variety of vendors hawking a variety of goods. Thus, Sutter’s Fort essentially became California’s first shopping mall. A score of merchants operated at the Fort, a sampling of which included Brannan and Co. general store; Hensley, Reading and Co. hardware store; Priest, Lee and Co. mining equipment; Peter Burnett, lawyer and real estate firm; Joseph Wadleigh, tinsmith and even a newspaper known as the Placer Times.
During the bustling Traders’ Faire three-day event and amid a lively shopping atmosphere, Fort visitors can watch artisans create pioneer goods for sale such as clothing, housewares, toys, beads and knives. Guests will also have the opportunity to make their own crafts, haggle with traders, hammer square nail and enjoy demonstrations of black powder weapons periodically throughout the day. In addition to the interactive opportunities, guests can also shop for artisan made hand-crafted items that make for treasured keepsakes, gifts and collectibles.
Admission to this special event at Sutter’s Fort SHP is $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6 to 17) and is free for children 5 and under. For more, call 916-445-4422 or visit www.suttersfort.org
Picture putting a paper bag over your head and trying to land a C-124, four-engine cargo plane in Iceland, in the middle of winter, with two engines down.
“It’s called ‘zero-zero visibility,’ said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert J. McMurry, 96, who actually pulled off that landing and many other nail-biting missions during his 24-year career as an enlisted aviator.
McMurry and his daughter, Gail Spelis have co-authored his memoir, Proud Pilot: A True Story of Family, Wartime and Survival Against the Odds, which traverses his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, the middle and teenage years in the Bay Area, the events that led to in his enlistment and all things in between. Several chapters are devoted to the many white-knuckle experiences McMurry endured while serving in the air force, including that 1956 mission to an Icelandic refueling station, which he calls “the most harrowing of all.”
Seven years in the making, Spelis says the decision to help co-author her father’s memoir was divinely inspired, but as is the case with many of the close-call stories in the book, its fruition also had a lot to do with timing.
“I had heard my dad tell stories all my life about being a service pilot and I’d always wanted to write this book,” Spelis said. When the economy soured in 2008, her family real estate company took a heavy blow, which put her at a personal crossroads. “The recession came along and I did not know which direction to turn. I was at my desk, praying for guidance and I asked God to show me what he wanted me to do next.”
The creative spirit, says Spelis, came to her almost immediately, however, she began writing a very different book. “It was flowing out of me faster than I could keep up with,” she said. A short time later, as her father was recounting stories during a family reunion, it hit her: “dad’s memoir” was the book she needed to be working on.
“I knew that was it,” said Spelis. “I had my direction and I wanted to honor dad by writing this book to help give his life meaning and purpose,” Spelis said.
More than 50 years had lapsed between the military and the memoir, published in 2015. McMurry was 87 when they began the writing. Between the air force and civilian pilot employment, he clocked some 33,000 hours in the air. He’d survived cancer and other illnesses, and experienced the death of his wife, Jeanne in 2012 after 69 years of marriage.
But memory had a will, and through it all McMurry’s memory had a mission of its own. He is, after all, a member Mensa and, to keep his mind sharp, he works the crossword puzzle every morning. In ink.
“There’s nothing wrong with his memory,” said Spelis, who says she wrote as her father dictated. “I’d ask dad to start in and remember the next thing, and he’d just sit back, close his eyes, put his fingers on his forehead and he’d go right there.”
As a young man, McMurry wanted to be a professional trumpet player. In high school he had his own band, which even backed up a fledgling entertainer and former Burlingame High School alum, singer, TV personality and media mogul, Merv Griffin. “I was never really great at it,” recalls McMurry. “It was frustrating. All artists want to be great at what they do.”
Then, World War II broke out and, as an enlisted member of the National Guard, McMurry was called to active duty on March 3, 1941. Two months in, he found the hours of pulling army caissons and cannons over unforgiving terrain on horseback and sleeping on the ground nothing short of miserable. When a notice was posted announcing pilot training exams, McMurry jumped at the opportunity. He was the only member of his company to pass.
“World War II changed everything for me,” McMurry said.
Spelis said the core of the book was “on paper” in about six months, however, the collection of photos, editing and other finishing touches took seven years. Her passion for her father’s work and their unshakable bond, they both agree, made this “labor of love” a reality.”
“I could not be more proud of Gail, and I enjoyed the whole process,” said McMurry. “We worked for hours every day. We would get tired, and sometimes we’d even forget to eat.”
Proud Pilot, a True Store of Family, Wartime and survival against the Odds, is available online at: www.gailspelisauthor.com/product-page/book
The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced that Sacramento Public Library is among the 30 finalists for the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For 23 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families and communities.
“The 2017 National Medal Finalists represent the leading museums and libraries that serve as catalysts for change in their communities,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “It is our honor to recognize 30 notable institutions for their commitment to providing programs and services that improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. We salute them and their valuable work in providing educational opportunities to their community and celebrate the power libraries and museums can have across the country.”
Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. IMLS is encouraging community members who visited Sacramento Public Library to share their story on the IMLS Facebook page. To Share Your Story and learn more about how these institutions make an impact, please visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS.
The National Medal winners will be announced later this spring. The representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C. to be honored at the National Medal award ceremony.
To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit www.imls.gov/2017-medals.
Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Along partisan lines, Senate Democrats passed two legislative proposals that would make California a safe haven for convicted felons who are in the country illegally and provide free legal service for them.
Former chairman of California’s state parole board, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), and sheriffs across the state denounced the Democrat-controlled legislature’s actions.
“How many more lives have to be harmed before Sacramento politicians wake up and realize these policies are dangerous for our communities?” said Senator Nielsen. Nielsen represents the families of two sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty by a convicted criminal who was deported twice for committing several crimes, for membership in a drug cartel, and for entering the country illegally. “This is not about immigration; this is about enabling criminal behavior and activity that endangers our citizens.”
The California State Sheriffs’ Association stated in their letter to the author, “This bill creates a severe public safety problem.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 54 (De León), is a legislative proposal that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, school police and security departments from sharing information about criminals with federal officials.
The second measure Senate Bill 6 (Hueso) would provide free legal services to arrested individuals. SB 6 takes general fund monies from programs like scholarships for college students to give to organizations to defend criminals.
“California leaders must protect the safety of our citizens from convicted felons who are here illegally – not hire lawyers for them,” said Senator Nielsen.
To contact Senator Nielsen, please call him at 916.651.4004, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sacramento River Cats are excited to announce a cross-level scrimmage against the San Jose Giants, the class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The two teams will go head-to-head in a scrimmage at Raley Field on Wednesday, April 5, just one day before Sacramento’s Opening Day. Tickets for the game start at just $5 and are available now at www.rivercats.com.
This pre-season scrimmage is an extension of Spring Training and is likely to feature many of San Francisco’s top prospects. Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede – the system’s top two prospects – are expected to take the field for the River Cats while 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds (No. 4 prospect) may start for the San Jose squad. Other prospects likely to be involved in the game include Joan Gregorio (No. 7), Jalen Miller (No. 15), Heath Quinn (No. 17), and Sacramento fan-favorite Austin Slater (No. 22).
First pitch on Wednesday, April 5 at Raley Field is set for 6:05 pm. Gates for the game will open at 5:00 pm with parking lots to open at 4:30 pm. Parking will be $5.
General admission tickets start at just $5. There will be a $10 ticket option which includes a general admission ticket, a hot dog, chips, and a soda. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rivercats.com.
All River Cats season ticket members will have tickets to the exhibition game included with their plan. For more information please email email@example.com or call (916) 376-HITS (4487).
The County board of supervisors is preparing to weigh the options presented by developer Doug Ose to frame a renewed contract for his continued private-level management of Gibson Ranch County Park.
On Monday, Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost toured Gibson Ranch for the first time since Ose assumed management of the 325-acre nature reserve and events center in 2011. Due to steep financial losses, the county was on the brink of closing the park. After her tour, Frost said she supports a fast-track to renewing a contract with Ose before his current agreement expires April 30th. From her perspective, no one wants to see Gibson Ranch close.
“It’s a beautiful space and we want to do everything we can to continue to let the community have access to this wonderful space,” Frost said. She stopped short of discussing specifics in either Ose’s proposal or those the Sacramento County Dept. of Regional Parks have put on the table. “I am not sure what the board will ultimately approve or not approve, but we are set to discuss all of the items and ideas and make a decision very soon.”
For Ose, the clock is ticking. “As of right now, I’ll be out of here on April 30th unless we can agree on something better,” said Ose.
Ose said he’s asked the county to consider a 20-year contract that would likely include increasing the park’s entry fee from $5 to $8, adding as many as 50 full hook-up RV camp sites, and the designation of the park as an official graduation space for local high schools.
“The ground rules have changed, and now we are at a point where I think we all want to see Gibson Ranch continue to remain open, but I need to stop the bleeding,” said Ose, who asserts that, although he saw a $22,000 profit in 2015, monthly losses in 2016 mounted to roughly $20,000 a month, largely due to increases in labor costs.
Visitation to the park however, is substantial. According to Ose, roughly 100,000 visitors came through the gates of Gibson Ranch in 2016. There are currently 90 special events on the books for 2017, including 43 weddings. Nonetheless, Ose, who is also a former congressman, said the costs of maintaining the facility are outpacing revenues.
“I have to pay 14,000 hours a year to run the place,” Ose said. “Somebody’s got to paint, trim trees, take care of the livestock, answer phones and book events. But with the costs of labor, insurance and electricity going up since we took over, the deal we have with the county is simply no longer working,”
That deal involves payment by Ose of $1 a year for rent and half of his profits to the county. In turn, the county agreed to pay Ose $500,000 over the current life of the contract for deferred maintenance, a much lower amount, Ose says, than it would have had to pay if the county managed the park on its own, considering the labor-intensive work involved.
“The primary difference between the government’s history of running the park and our tenure is that we can work seven days a week because we are not bound by government labor laws,” Ose said, adding that the county was losing roughly $5 million annually prior to his contract. “We’ve proven the theory that the county doesn’t have to lose $5 million a year. In fact now they are about $2.5 million ahead.
Regional Parks Director Jeff Leatherman did not return calls for comment. Ose said he’s not sure what Regional Parks wants for Gibson Ranch, but hopes they will see the value in the details of his renewal proposal.
The RV park idea, for example, claims Ose, could be one of the most viable options for ramping up revenue without significant changes to the park’s natural setting, something Regional Parks has had concerns about in the past. Ose said he’s had an engineer come out to evaluate the space available for the RV sites and, if approved, he thinks that piece alone could generate as much as $12,000 a month. Combined with event revenue and a hike in the entry fee, Ose says, things could easily turn around.
At the core of Ose’s proposal, however, is the request to lengthen his contract. A 20-year lease, as opposed to another five-year lease, he claims, would give him the time to implement significant revenue-generating programs and amenities.
“I have asked the county to consider a 20-year contract, something long enough to really put this private corporation to work,” Ose said. “We’ll see what happens, what the other ideas are, and hope for the best.”
A delegation of 18 members of the Sacramento Presbytery, ages 14 to over 70, spent spring break volunteering in Nicaragua. The team is a part of an ongoing partnership with CEPAD, an Ecumenical, Not for Profit serving the people of Nicaragua by building schools and supporting sustainability in its villages.
The volunteer team began their service at a CEPAD School in the colonial city of León. The team painted three classrooms but the highlight was presenting the school with 18 laptop computers generously donated by members of Davis Community Church.
“When the computers were first presented, there was a lot of confused chatter,” stated Rev. Jeanie Shaw, pastor of Eventide Community − a sister church to Grace Presbyterian in Sacramento − and mission trip leader, “the students had never seen a laptop before. After a student yelled out, 'Computadora,' [computers!] the whole assembly erupted in gleeful pandemonium.”
“Nicaragua is the second poorest country in our hemisphere,” said Dr. Grace Chou of Tahoe Donner and a mission volunteer, “and to empower these students with technology was the gift of a lifetime.” Dr. Chou also took the task of installing the computers for the school.
The team then visited the District of San Fransico Libre, a high desert region that ranks the poorest in the Nicaraguan. They visited the small village of Las Huertas where the entire village gathered at the home of their community leader and welcomed us.
“The village is comprised of only 29 families,” Pastor Shaw describes. “Their one and two room houses are handmade of adobe or cement blocks. Cooking is done over firewood in outdoor clay ovens. Floors are just packed earth.”
The village has no refrigeration or running water. Electricity was only introduced last year. And domestic animals roam freely everywhere; cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and dogs. Cattle are driven down the road twice a day led by men on horseback. Oxcarts take loads of firewood to sell into other nearby villages. But everything is clean in Las Huertas, dirt yards swept every day at dawn.
The leaders of the village had chosen water collection as the primary project this year and the Truckee team provided 8 families with large cisterns, tubing for gutters on the houses and plastic sheeting for a large catch pond for collecting water during the rainy season. The team also provided tools for the village and together with the villagers, dug out the collecting ponds.
As a pilot project, the team also brought five solar ovens and demonstrated how they worked to the villagers.
“There was real excitement when they learned that their rice would never burn again,” Shaw said.
“Nicaragua is a culture with beautiful formality,” Dr. Chou observed. “We were presented with beautiful, yet formal, welcome speeches and prayers.”
Spencer Edmundson and Jack and Tiege Wright of Truckee gave the Nicaraguan youth enough baseball equipment for the whole village and a game immediately got underway. Baseball is their national past time and the boys were quickly led to a sugar cane field where the villagers, wielding machetes, cut down the cane to make a baseball diamond. Ash from fire pits were spread to mark the lines and they yelled, “¡Jugar a la pelota!” [Play Ball!] Teams were chosen, and our youth pitched and their youth batted the balls skyward (almost lost in the sugarcane). Afterward, the laughter and high fives between teams needed no translation.
“We come from two different countries,” Shaw said in a formal thank you, “but we are all Americans − North Americans and South Americans. And most importantly, we are all one in Christ.”
The Mission Team shared their reflections of their experience on Sunday, March 12th at Eventide Community within the Fellowship Hall of the Arden Christian Church in Sacramento.