Medical marijuana dispensaries and revitalization efforts fail

COAST CITIES — Initiatives to revitalize downtown Del Mar and allow medical marijuana dispensaries in that city and Solana Beach failed in the Nov. 6 election. 

Proposition J, which would have adopted a specific plan for the commercial village area, was rejected by Del Mar voters 1,139 to 816, or 58 percent to 42 percent.

The plan reduced Camino del Mar, the main thoroughfare, from four lanes to two, added roundabouts and increased building heights on the west side. Proponents claimed the changes would decrease traffic and pollution and incentivized property owners to upgrade their buildings.

Opponents said the proposal would increase traffic and pollution, decrease property values, force motorists onto residential side streets and destroy the village charm and quality of life.

City officials have been discussing ways to revitalize the area for decades. The most recent effort began more than a year ago and included about 100 meetings, workshops and public hearings.

“We’re sorry it wasn’t approved but that’s what it’s all about,” outgoing Mayor Carl Hilliard said. “We put it out there and let the citizens decide.

“The package was so big and complex,” he said. “People found parts they liked and parts they didn’t. They voted no based on what they didn’t like.”

He said he and his colleagues “made the critical decision” to present the plan as a whole rather than piecemeal.

Hilliard, who did not run for re-election, said the new City Council will be faced with several issues. “Camino del Mar is a failed street,” he said. “They’ll need some plan to deal with traffic and congestion. There’s also the housing element.”

On a more positive note, Hilliard said he was “happy to see the pot initiative rejected.”

“It was poorly written,” he added.

Council members in Del Mar and Solana Beach were presented with an initiative this summer from the Patient Care Association of California, a nonprofit organization of medical cannabis collectives, that would have allowed regulated medical marijuana dispensaries in those cities.

The group collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for the ballots, giving city officials basically two options — adopt it as presented or let voters decide.

Some council members in Solana Beach, including all of those recently elected, said they favor the use of medical marijuana but oppose brick-and-mortar dispensaries.

In Del Mar, Proposition H was rejected 1,053 to 814, or by 56 percent of voters. In Solana Beach 3,193 voters, or 63 percent, opposed Proposition W while 1,882 people, or 37 percent, supported it.

Similar initiatives in Lemon Grove and Imperial Beach also failed.

“The results are surprising and very disappointing,” Cynara Velazquez, of Citizens for Patients Rights, said. “When we were talking to voters we saw just the opposite results.”

She said people may say they support the dispensaries because they don’t want to seem unsympathetic to cancer patients but their opinions change in the voting booth.”

Velazquez noted a competing, stricter ordinance developed by the Lemon Grove council also failed by essentially the same margin.

She said her group has no plans going forward. “We’re absorbing,” she said.



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