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City Pot Dispensary Ban Moves Ahead; Skate Park Plan to be Reviewed

Council Wrap

Posted: February 27, 2008 1:48 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Sagan Lockhart, 20, of Saugus, listens to his fellow skateboarders speak to the City Council on Tuesday night. The skateboarders opposed the possible summer closure of the skate park, which they said would leave them with no place to skate.

The City Council Tuesday voted to move forward with an ordinance that would keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of Santa Clarita.

Also at the meeting, a swarm of skateboarders congregated at City Hall to demand that city leaders reconsider closing the city's only skatepark while they build a new one at the George A. Caravalho Sports Complex in Canyon Country.

The medical marijuana ban would not ban medical marijuana prescriptions but prohibit facilities that distribute the drug.

"Our high school seniors know exactly what doctors to go to and exactly what to say to get (medical marijuana prescriptions)," said Councilman Frank Ferry. "It's just a license to distribute it among their friends."

The council passed an urgency ordinance in 2006 in fear that a conflict between state and federal laws would allow for the setting up of medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Clarita.

Federal laws prohibit the manufacturing and possession of marijuana while a state law provides an exception if the marijuana is used for medical purposes.

The conflict makes it unclear whether such facilities would be legal within cities, so the authority to make that decision is given to individual municipalities. The city is looking to uphold the federal regulations until the conflict is resolved.

The ordinance will return to the council for a second reading at an upcoming meeting. If passed then, it wiould become a law.

Earlier in the meeting, about a dozen skateboard fanatics stepped up to the podium to plead to the city to let them skate.

"If you close this park, you're taking away a place to meet up with all your friends. They're like my second family," said 11-year-old skateboarder Tyler Pacheco, of Saugus. "There's countless places where you can play soccer and basketball or baseball ... There's not many places for us to skate."

The city is planning to close the existing 6,000-square-foot skate park and build a 20,000-square-foot park at another end of the property. The park could be closed for four months, according to City Manager Ken Pulskamp.

Local skate shop owner Mike Riederer said once the park is closed, kids will "start doing things they shouldn't be doing."

Although he was wearing a business suit, resident Sterling King said he learned to skateboard when he was 12 years old and could empathize with the kids.

Even Councilwoman Laurene Weste said she used to skateboard and said she can appreciate the sport.

Pulskamp said because of complications with the geology of the property, it would cost the city an additional $750,000 to work around the existing park during construction.

The council directed city staff to hold public meetings to hear the community concerns and inform the public of the city's plans. The matter will then return to the council in about one month.


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