Yucca Valley Drops Its Tight Restrictions On Home Marijuana Cultivation

The Yucca Valley Town Council unanimously consented last week to lifting the complex and expensive requirements the town had previously imposed on any of its residents seeking to cultivate marijuana within or at their domiciles.
The passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, conferred upon California residents aged 21 and over the right to utilize marijuana for recreational, i.e., intoxicative, purposes, subject to a host of regulations. The measure also conferred on those of the age of majority in the state the ability to cultivate up to one half dozen marijuana plants at any given time, pursuant to “reasonable” regulation by local governmental authority.
In San Bernardino County, the City of Fontana led the reactionary charge against the social liberalization the new age of permissiveness relating to cannabis seemed to represent. City staff there prepared, and the city council passed, an ordinance requiring residents seeking to grow their own inside their home to obtain a $411 permit from the city, pay for unconstitutional background checks, bring any arrearages on overdue city fees to a close, get not just permission from their landlords if they were renters but a notarized certificate of clearance from the property owner, and agree to allow city officials to inspect their homes at any time of the city’s choosing, 24 hours a day.
Mike Harris, a Fontana resident who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of California and the Drug Policy Alliance, sued the city. San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge David Cohn in November ruled against the City of Fontana, striking down its ordinance that virtually prohibited Fontana residents from cultivating their own personal stash, opining that “The City of Fontana has gone too far.” Cohn directed the city to redraft its ordinance in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Along the way, Cohn indicated that Harris was entitled to legal fees, given that he had to go to considerable expense to prevent the City of Fontana from walking all over him and his fellow pot smokers, violating their U.S. Constitutional rights to be secure in their person and effects, and their rights under the California Constitution and its attendant Proposition 64.
On February 6, Cohn offered up his tally of what Harris’s lawyers are entitled to: $106,916.
In the meantime, the Town of Yucca Valley had instituted its own ordinance.  The town’s regulations prohibited anyone from growing the weed on their premises without first submitting a cultivation application to the town’s development director on a form provided by the director, along with proof of payment of the permit fee. Cultivation applications required that the applicant provide, affirmed under penalty of perjury, the property address where the marijuana was to be cultivated, the name of each person owning, leasing, occupying, or having charge of any legal parcel or premises where marijuana was to be grown, the name of each person participating in the marijuana husbandry, a property owner acknowledgment of cultivation of marijuana at the subject property, affirmed under penalty of perjury, a scaled property site plan and a scaled diagram of the floor plan within the residence or fully enclosed accessory structure to be used for cultivation at the marijuana cultivation site, and an itemized list of measures taken to comply with regard to odor control, security, electrical, and building and safety provisions, as well as any equipment used for the agricultural endeavor. Marijuana cultivation was not to be visible from anywhere outside the residence or accessory structure and any odors, sounds or other emissions indicating marijuana cultivation were not to be detectable from surrounding properties.
Concerned that some town resident in league with an enterprising attorney would soak the town for as much as $100,000 in legal fees by successfully challenging the town with regard to the issue, town officials revisited the matter, having the planning commission review the ordinance.
The planning commission voted 3-to-2, with its members Mathew Thomas and James Henderson dissenting, to recommend that the town council rescind the permit requirements. Thereafter, on May 7, the town council held a hearing and vote on the matter. Without any public comment or show of opposition or controversy, the council approved the changes to the town’s ordinance on personal marijuana cultivation, eliminating the need for residents to secure a town permit prior to growing up to six marijuana plants allowed under state law.
“Parts of our ordinance would not pass muster due to that Fontana case,” Town Manager Shane Stueckle said.
Councilman Rick Denison said it was prudent for the town to reduce the risk of it being subject to litigation it would very likely lose.

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