The Galt City Council voiced support Tuesday night for an ordinance that will temporarily prohibit the location or operation of marijuana-related businesses in the city limits.
The catalyst for the ordinance is the possible passage of Proposition 19. It is a statewide initiative that would allow people who are over the age of 21 to possess one ounce or cultivate marijuana on private property in an area up to 25 square feet.
If passed, the proposition goes into effect immediately, so that means commercial vendors could start selling on Nov. 3, City Attorney Steve Rudolph said.
The council plans to pass the ordinance at its Oct. 19 meeting. By voting on it then, it will ensure that the 45-day urgency ordinance continues past election day.
It would be too hard for the city to draft zoning regulations on the businesses before the election, Rudolph said. Instead it is easier to temporarily ban the vendors until the city can come up with a permanent ordinance.
"It is just an effort to preserve local control," Rudolph said.
Galt could be one of the first cities to pass a temporary ban on marijuana businesses before the November election. Rudolph said he was not familiar with any other cities passing similar ordinances.
The council members said they are supporting the 45-day ban because the city is being proactive.
"I would like to commend our city attorney and city manager, so we are planning instead of reacting to whatever happens," Councilwoman Barbara Payne said.
Part of the problem is the state initiative is unclear, Rudolph said.
While it does allow cities to regulate commercial activities surrounding marijuana, Rudolph said it is not clear whether local restrictions should be in place before the proposition is potentially passed by voters.
If a business did open and the council drafted restrictions later that month, the business could argue that the limitations do not apply to them because it was not in place when they opened, Rudolph said.
The council also voted to move forward with a solar farm project at the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Earlier this year, Terry Peterson, owner of Cal Valley Solar, approached the city with the idea of putting up solar panels to help offset the cost of running the wastewater plant.
He suggested the city make lease payments on the panels in exchange for use of all the power.
City staff studied the proposal and decided they instead want to receive bids from companies on a power purchase agreement.
With this option, the city will buy the power at a negotiated rate over most likely a 20-year period, instead of making lease payments, principal planner Sandra Kiriu said.
As the first step of the project, the council unanimously approved spending $96,250 to hire MWH consulting firm. It will to do a feasibility study to make sure the solar project will pay off and request bids from solar companies.
Once a contractor is selected, MWH will monitor and assist with installation of the panels.
The city used wastewater funds, and the money will be paid back with the savings the city will receive from using solar power, instead of buying power from Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
Resident John Slaughterback objected to the plan, questioning whether the city should use settling ponds at the wastewater plant for the project. He also worried about the cost of the consultant.
"The citizens of Galt should not have to subsidize solar power," he said.