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City Council moves on marijuana, bikes and legal fees

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Sacramento city officials try to clarify when bicyclists are allowed on sidewalks

Pot, no. Bikes, yes. Legal fees, ouch.

Sacramento City Council members voted Tuesday night to extend a ban on commercial marijuana cultivation in Sacramento while they fine-tune proposed regulations. They approved a bike master plan meant to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians. And they allotted $500,000 to fight a lawsuit from developer Paul Petrovich over the stalled Curtis Park Village project.

Council members voted unanimously to keep commercial pot growing illegal within city limits for at least another few months while they work out details of licensing, including who will have the final say over cultivation permits.

The proposed cultivation ordinance was discussed earlier this month at the City Council’s Law and Legislation Committee, where some members expressed concern that final permit approval would rest with the city’s Planning Commission instead of with the ouncil. Once the plan is revised, council members could bring controversial permits before the council for approval.

The extended cultivation ban runs to September 2017, but Councilman Jay Schenirer, who has led much of the effort to regulate cannabis locally, said that he hopes to have an ordinance ready this fall and to issue licenses before September of next year.

Schenirer said Sacramento residents should expect to see more marijuana legislation in the coming year.

“We still have to get to delivery. We still have to get to manufacturing. But this is a big step along that path,” he said.

The city’s bicycle master plan and Grid 3.0 transportation study were also moved forward by the council. Those guidelines are aimed at making the city more friendly to automobile alternatives in the coming years, including making sure neighborhoods outside the core area are safe to cycle through.

“A lot of riders in my district are doing it because that’s their only mode of transportation,” said council member Eric Guerra. “For a lot of low-income people, that’s how they get to work.”

The council also approved up to $500,000 in legal fees for local law firm Meyers Nave Riback Silver & Wilson to help resolve a lawsuit filed in February by developer Paul Petrovich.

Petrovich is charging that the city unfairly refused a conditional use permit for Safeway to build a 16-pump gas station at the 72-acre former railyard he is developing between Curtis Park and Sacramento City College. It also alleges the city violated his due process rights and didn’t adequately respond to a Public Records Act request.

Lawyers for the developer say the city is doing an inadequate job of conducting its record search for emails concerning the Curtis Park project, including those sent or received by the mayor and council members.

In late June, Petrovich’s lawyers received permission from the court for the developer’s third-party IT consultant to help craft search terms for the city to use.

There was one more “no” on Tuesday night: no mayor.

Kevin Johnson did not attend the meeting. He has missed four of the last five meetings.

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