Neighborhood Assns Weigh in on City Issues
By Dianne Anderson
As San Bernardino struggles to stave off the $11.2 million deficit, some hold out hope for what marijuana revenue could bring to the table.
At his next meeting, Carlos Teran wants to get the marijuana commissioner to come out to address his neighborhood association member concerns. He wants to know more about how the city is enforcing oversight on landlords with tenants operating underground weed shops out of residences.
Teran, president of the Mt. Vernon Neighborhood Association, feels the city could deal with its proliferating pot shops and make more money by hitting the landlords that are harboring illegal weed dispensaries on the Westside.
“Try to go after stiff fines on landlords who are renting out places where illegal activity happens. Get more money from the dispensaries that are legally cited,” he said.
He feels that fines or the threat of jail time for landlords could make all the difference. Any revenue generated from legal and illegal dispensaries could go back to help the areas that now suffer the heaviest impact from the dispensaries, like the Westside.
“It could go toward streets and lighting for the community to make it better,” he said. “That’s why I’m inviting the cannabis commissioner to explain that to us.”
Around the city, some places make thousands of dollars each night, he said, and are obviously illegal.
“They say they keep shutting it down, but it’s up every day. They’re making a killing off Highland and Western. The dirt parking lot is always full of people,” he said.
From what he sees, the landlords renting to people running the illegal weed shops only care about getting their rent.
Potentially, another source of revenue could be hitting the big rigs harder for parking on residential streets. He said the fine is $54, even as the city slams down residents with extremely high fines for not watering their grass.
Mainly, he said it’s sad to see the city facing the same money problems as during the bankruptcy. Now, it’s back to square one.
“We have to start all over again. Yet, the city council meetings haven’t been constructive, mostly it’s who can win the best argument,” he said.
Local governments and everyone else can now easily check if a pot dispensary is legal at www.capotcheck.com, a site of the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
Lately, the BCC is outreaching its Get #weedwise campaign, where they warn users that illegal weed has been found to have contaminants, such as fecal matter, mold or other dangerous chemicals.
On San Bernardino’s city website, they announced that as of June 17, they have released an RFP for Cannabis Management Services, which is open until July 17.
Charle Jacobs, president of Terrace West Neighborhood Association, is also watching the cannabis situation, and concerned at the lack of reporting and follow through for the illegal shops.
As for the city’s current financial quagmire, she is willing to exercise patience. A lot of people are negative about the situation, she said, but she doesn’t think it’s wise to jump to conclusions too soon.
“We didn’t do that for Davis or Morris,” she said. “I get it. I want to see change, but it doesn’t happen overnight. We were eight years in bankruptcy. And Nicholson has been closed for ten years.”
Jacobs, also a parks commissioner, has been trying to call attention to the need for more services for Nicholson Park. At this point, she doesn’t see a direct money impact to parks and recreation, except that it came up that the Ho-Ho parade and some others may not be funded, although there is no definite decision.
In her area, she is excited about gearing up to partner with Pastor Paul Jones COGIC church for a monthly food giveaway. The upcoming giveaways are BYOB (Bring your own Bag) for the food distribution.
“It will be a boost for Nicholson to see something positive is happening over there,” she said, adding that the good news lately is that no one is sleeping in the park.
“I can’t say that they’re not in a vacant lot further down, they’re not necessarily in the park,” she said.
Recently, 11 neighborhood association members returned from the Neighborhood U.S.A conference in Palm Springs.
Amelia Lopez, president of the Neighborhood Association Council, said through donations, they were able to send members to learn how to implement special projects, and work with local government.
In the coming weeks, they will go back to share some of the knowledge with fellow association members.
Lopez said that in speaking as a resident, she also feels the current city administration has inherited many issues from ongoing and the prior administration, but it was still a shock to hear how deep the city is in the red.
“If this city falls again into bankruptcy, we are dead, that is it. $11 million was shocking,” she said. “I was one of the residents who thought we were doing much better.”
It’s hard to say who is to blame, she added. Since the end of bankruptcy, she emphasized that people expected too much, thinking that the city was somehow suddenly financially secure.
“It [bankrupcy] just meant the court accepted our plan that we couldn’t pay all vendors, and they had to accept something way lower or get nothing,” she said.
Building up city revenue is another topic that has not been at the center of discussions.
“What type of revenues are we getting so we could build up the city’s reserves to get back on track?” she asks.
Not long ago, her relatives who were born and raised in the city came out to visit from back east, and the first question was why the streets looked so bad with potholes and cracks.
Other concerns she hears from different neighborhood association members and leaders are around public safety concerns. She said she invited Chief McBride to come speak to the NAC group, and met with police officers, who were sincere about budget cut impact, and how it would not entail a direct loss of officers.
“Our understanding is that they had unfilled positions, and that was what was being cut. It wasn’t like the department was going to get more officers,” she said.
“I think most of us are in a holding pattern to let’s see, it’s fairly new,” she said. “We’re all at the same time trying to let the Chief know that we want to be in and informed, and help with eyes on the street.”
To file a complaint against illegal potshops https://cannabis.ca.gov/file-a-complaint/
For the RFP bid opportunity http://sbcity.org/services/request_for_bids/all_bids.asp