County Council committee to consider marijuana-zoning legislation starting tomorrow

Following up on the surprise vote three weeks ago for a four-month moratorium on new marijuana businesses in unincorporated King County, the County Council starts its closer consideration tomorrow. The announcement:

Two special meetings of King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee to consider legislation impacting zoning for the production, processing and sale of legal marijuana in unincorporated King County.

WHO: The Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment committee (TrEE).

WHERE: King County Courthouse, 10th floor, 516 Third Ave, Seattle 98104.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016, 9:00 am and Thursday, June 16th, 2016, 9:00 am

BACKGROUND: In 2013, the King County Council adopted initial zoning regulations governing the production, processing and sale of legalized marijuana in unincorporated King County. Since adoption of these initial zoning regulations, King County has received and processed numerous applications for marijuana-related land uses.

Some residents have expressed concerns regarding the existing regulations for marijuana production, processing and retailing. In order to review these concerns in rural areas, as well as consider an Executive proposal to regulate clustering of retail locations, the King County Council voted to pass a four-month moratorium on the acceptance of applications for or the establishment or location of new marijuana producers, processors and retailers on April 25th, 2016.

Two ordinances have been introduced. They are Ordinance No. 2016-0236 and Ordinance No. 2016-0254. Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski, chair of the TrEE committee, says it’s his intention “to review the legislation at this first special meeting and move expeditiously to consider any amendments to the existing marijuana zoning codes, so that the Council can make any changes to the code that are appropriate, and lift the temporary moratorium on this legal industry as soon as possible.”

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12 Responses to “County Council committee to consider marijuana-zoning legislation starting tomorrow”

  1. Question Mark Says:

    There is currently a significant question whether the moratorium currently in effect has any bearing on any of the 16 retail marijuana stores currently licensed by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in unincorporated King County.

    Should it be found that the 8 stores now licensed in White Center/Top Hat and the 5 stores now licensed in Skyway must be grandfathered in as conditional uses (conditional on the maintenance of their state license and on not abandoning their business location for 6 months or more) then the entire proposal to regulate clustering of these stores will be rendered moot.

    That is not to say that eventually it would be expected that now-clustered licensees may seek to move their location either within White Center, Skyway or out to some other unincorporated location, and then clustering regulation would have an opportunity to make a difference. However it might take years for the first such move to be made. No one with a current ticket into the state’s brand new marijuana industry is expected to give that up without seizing the opportunity to get started in the business first.

    Few in White Center/Top Hat or Skyway really want to be a guinea pig for the effects the excessive number of retail marijuana stores on the community. Most would rather see the industry start with a more normal number of such stores, just as most communities and neighborhoods around the state will have the opportunity to experience.

    So long as land uses for existing stores are grandfathered for marijuana stores that became clustered before new rules come into effect, there needs to be additional mitigating regulation at the local level to bring some fairness to the community’s experience in the coming years even in the midst of an unfair distribution of these stores.

  2. Mark Ufkes Says:

    Let’s make an issue where there isn’t one. How many alcohol related businesses are in White Center? One just had a shooting in its parking lot. Why aren’t you discussing this more dangerous issue?

    Some one is being a hypocrite. And you imply in your comment that you speak for us “guinea pigs”. And “most”.; oh thank you Question Mark for sharing your wisdom and speaking for us guinea pigs.

    Aren’t you one of the folks who doesn’t even live in White Center? Yet you speak for all off us . . . Like I say, in America, even the do-nothing’s get a voice”.

  3. Question Mark Says:

    Mark, the issue is — in an adult industry regulated under state law — that regulation has been extremely uneven to date. And the fact that the impact is being visited on two economically struggling and ethnically diverse communities would be laughable happening on Saturday Night Live, but is sad to see happening in real life in my neighborhood under the regulation of a state agency.

    If you think alcohol sales has risen to be such a threat in White Center, why haven’t you started a campaign against it?

    I’d be right there with you …

  4. Mark Ufkes Says:

    Be clear, what is the impact? Legal businesses full of employees, retail spaces rented that have been vacant for years, and go ask the local food establishments. When I was the White Center Chamber of Commerce President for three years, I heard from many restaurant owners that the pot businesses were good for their business. And the one loud anti-pot restaurant owners have changed their tune and became a pot store. And they are corrent leaders in the Chamber and UAC. But back to your claim, what exactly is your problem with these stores? And be clear about where you live. And use your real name for God’s sake, if you are going to keep claiming that you speak for White Center residents. And when we at the Chamber pushed restrictions on fortified alcohol in White Center, where were you? And when we submitted annual alcohol use count reports to the Liquor Control Board, where were you? These were real problems linked directly to specific public enibriation in White Center. Again, what specifically is the problem with pot shops? You are making an ethno centric claim that you see a perceived social injustice; pot shops. Be afraid everyone, pot shops. Be afraid. You are no different then the voices arguing for prohibition. If you were really on the moral high ground, you would be talking about the yearly murder in White Center, the crime and dramatic increases in homelessness that were here before marihuana legalization, and the need for more affordable housing here. Find a real issue.

  5. Question Mark Says:

    What’s not to like, right?

    It’s an adults-only business, not family friendly.

    Who really believes that White Center needs 8 retail pot shops?

    If you’re trying to argue that this diverse community is poised to thrive because of this new industry, then riddle me this: why does all of West Seattle and Delridge have only two licensed stores?

  6. Mark Ufkes Says:

    Mr. Question (since you are unwilling to use your real name) You continue to avoid identifying an actual problem with the pot stores. Not family friendly you say. Well all our auto painting and auto repair businesses in White Center are not really “family friendly”. Neither is our casino or our many bars. Definitely not our three X-rated book stores. Are you arguing that they be closed too?

    Removing pot stores from White Center is not going to make our business district “thrive” (another of your silly generations) This business district was struggling long before pot was legalized. What does hurt any community, is a shallow voice claiming that the only reason for all our problems is “this one thing”. (Fill in the blank) In your case, pot stores.

    A thriving small business community has little to do with whether pot stores are located there. It involves legitimate business interests working together to advocate for investment. It requires property owners and business leasees to invest in their store fronts. It requires community policing (we don’t have enough King County Sheriff Deputies for this now) and a strong commitment in keeping the business district clean, well-lit, and free of graffiti. It involves a clear long-term vision for community investment and re-development. It involves a strategy for homelessness and low income housing investment. It includes almost continual community promoting events.

    And most important, it requires several business advocacy and community groups, each respecting and listening to the other groups, so that our many voices, often not in English, are heard and considered. White Center has none of this now. And you keep chirping “folks, it’s the pot stores fault”.

  7. Once again not impressed with the ramblings of Mr. Ufkes.

  8. The concentration of poverty here is the time that binds most of our problems. Everyone deserves the opportunity to improve.

  9. Mark Ufkes Says:

    Why is it that when ever anyone trying to do something good for White Center, and then politely goes to the UAC, they come away wondering why it is so caustic and condescending there?

  10. I will take a guess some people don’t realize how many people smoked cannabis recreational before I-502. The fact the on just about every block in white center and surrounding areas. There is or was at least one or more people that have ether sold smoked or bought cannabis. Now that these local dealers are closing up do to I-502. There is a need for these pot stores. When we have city’s banning shop’s it can actually give white center a upper hand. When people come to buy cannabis they also tend to stop for something eat at a local restaurant or grocery store. Since cannabis can be sold and used safely some people to do this day still can’t reized this. Some see what happened when the medical cannabis shop came in and did not do things completely correctly this is why the feds and police came in and closed down some locations. When this moratorium is over I hope this mark Johnson is held responsible for any lost in profits to unincorporated king county while this going on.

  11. Mr. Ufkes has a long history of being caustic and condescending to individuals and groups that do not agree with him. This is clearly evident from his comments on this thread including his unsubstantiated claims regarding the UAC.

  12. Question Mark Says:

    Mark, my name happens to be Mark, too. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to meet you in person some day.

    You are putting words in my mouth when you claim that I want to close all marijuana stores in White Center and Skyway. No, and that’s an inappropriate argument on your part.

    The issue is simply this: hundreds of communities and neighborhoods all across the state–all supposedly under the same standard of regulation–will have the opportunity to have a normal and prudent number of retail pot stores sited in their communities now and in coming years.

    But not White Center and Skyway, where the concentration of pot stores imposed by the State is far above the norm.

    Why is that, and why has regulation been so uneven in these very diverse communities? You do know the State regulator created these norms as a standard function of their regulatory expertise, in particular to make pot widely available so that legal stores displace black market sales to the greatest extent possible.

    The fact is, the State’s implementation of retail marijuana in unincorporated King County has failed to reach its own self-made goals.