After the successful referendum opposing the ordinance reducing cannabis-free buffer zones around schools, day care and youth centers, the Mount Shasta City Council repealed the ordinance in June. The state 600-foot buffer now applies. By law the Council cannot reconsider reducing the buffer zones for one year. But the City administration is trying through the backdoor to reduce the buffer zones again, this time by improper measurement at two schools, Sisson and the I AM School.
Why are we raising this issue now? At that June council meeting, the audience heard two unexpected statements. First, the CEO of Jefferson Soul, a cannabis industry business in town, stated his intention to subdivide his parcel on Ream Avenue through the middle of the building allowing the cannabis operation in the portion of the building purportedly just outside the assumed 600-foot buffer zone. Second, a representative of the nearby private school – the I AM School – submitted a plot map showing virtually all of the proposed cannabis building is inside the 600-foot buffer zone if measured correctly from the closest campus perimeter property line of the City-approved school campus. Through a Public Record Request, KCAfK discovered the City accepted an application from the CEO on July 17 for cannabis permits to operate in the Ream building, but the City has yet to make that application public.
A city website map shows buffer zones around public and private schools, day care centers and youth centers. https://mtshastaca.gov/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Restricted-Area-Map.pdf. On the map the high school and elementary school buffer appear to be correctly constructed to include the full school campus property perimeter in measuring the 600-foot buffer. But the buffer zones for Sisson and the I AM School are not properly constructed and have the effect of illegally reducing the mandated buffer zone. What is the City’s rationale in treating the Sisson and I AM Schools differently? The answer is surprisingly arcane. Their campuses comprise multiple parcels while the elementary and high school campuses each are contained on a single parcel. For Sisson and the I AM Schools, instead of recognizing the full campus perimeter boundary, the City chose to designate the beginning point of the 600-foot measurement from a property line much further inside the school campus perimeter. They are taking the extreme and unsupportable position that a "school" for purposes of measuring the mandated buffer zone is a building location in which a teacher conducts instruction. Thus, they exclude a large portion of the school's campus property including property and buildings used for administration, recreation, athletics, gymnasiums, parking, open space, play and other uses. Officials from Sisson School and the I AM School have raised the misapplication of the buffer zone with the city planner to no avail.
Especially in today’s environment, parents send their children to school expecting them to be safe anywhere on campus. KCAfK raised the question with the City Planner, what is your legal authority for not measuring the buffer from the school campus perimeter. The Planner’s response, “... the position of the City is that the radius is measured from a property with a school, daycare, or youth center facility that exists.”
Parents, most people and, indeed, most students use common sense and know being at school includes being on the campus and in school buildings, not just on one arbitrarily chosen parcel. They are not alone. The California State Constitution places utmost importance on safety of school campuses,
Article 1, Section 28
(a) The People of the State of California find and declare all of the following:
... (7) Finally, the People find and declare that the right to public safety extends to public and private primary, elementary, junior high, and senior high school, and community college, California State University, University of California, and private college and university campuses, where students and staff have the right to be safe and secure in their persons.
The California State Legislature requires schools to develop School Safety Plans covering the entire school campus. Proposition 64 listed “protect public safety” as one of its highest intents and purposes. Prop 64 did not distinguish between public and private schools nor between various types of zoning areas where schools may be found.
Why is the city so intent on ignoring public safety and allowing a cannabis business in this building on Ream which is inside the correctly measured 600-foot buffer zone? Is the purpose of shorting a buffer to allow a cannabis business to operate inside the true 600-foot buffer?
The KCAfK Coalition expects the city to correct its misapplication of the Prop 64 600-foot buffer zone which must be measured from the property line of the school campus perimeter, not from an arbitrary point well inside the full campus perimeter.