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Roseville City Council to consider pot ban, pension issues

Meeting takes place 7 p.m. tonight at Civic Center
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The Roseville City Council may ban outdoor medical marijuana gardens and will consider asking an employee group to pay their full pension share during tonight’s meeting. Residents have expressed concerns about backyard medical marijuana gardens in their neighborhoods, especially about the odor, said Dee Dee Gunther, spokeswoman for the Roseville Police Department. “We’re bringing a proposed ordinance for council’s consideration that may address many of the residents’ concerns,” Gunther said. “In addition to prohibiting outdoor cultivation, the proposed ordinance addresses other safety issues. For example, it prohibits the use of butane and similar flammable gases in processing.” The proposed ordinance also prohibits the conversion of homes, including vacant houses, for the sole purpose of marijuana cultivation. Jack Wallace, president of Cresthaven Neighborhood Association, said his group initiated the ordinance request. Wallace did some research and said he found that several other cities, such as San Diego and Rocklin, have similar restrictions in place. “It’s a public nuisance,” Wallace said. “Growing marijuana emits a smell much like a skunk. Neighbors who live close, some say they can’t use their backyards because the smell is so bad. One person couldn’t use their swimming pool.” Under Proposition 215, California patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation have the right to possess and grow pot for personal medical use. Cities can regulate how, when and where medical marijuana is grown. Marijuana dispensaries are not allowed within Roseville city limits. “The goal is to allow authorized patients access to medical marijuana as authorized by state law, while protecting the health and safety of surrounding neighborhoods,” Gunther said. Also during tonight’s meeting, the council will vote on whether to require International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) employees to pay their full 8 percent employee contribution to CalPERS, effective Aug. 6. The city says these changes will result in $450,000 savings in the 2011 calendar year. The city plans to negotiate similar concessions with the other employee groups. IBEW 1245, which includes about 130 water, sewer and electrical workers, has been unwilling to agree to what amounts to an 8 percent pay cut, as upper management, including Roseville City Manager Ray Kerridge, will get a 3 percent raise this year. Despite negotiating since October, the city and IBEW have been unable to reach an agreement. Waite said IBEW is “upset with the city’s lack of bargaining” and that some workers are considering seeking employment elsewhere. “We held 16 separate negotiation sessions and three (mediation sessions) over the course of nine months to help us reach an agreement, and it just wasn’t possible,” said the city’s Human Resources Director Stacey Haney. She said 80 other municipalities in northern California are in various stages of having employees pick up their share of CalPERS, as rising pension costs constitute an ongoing issue for government entities. The Roseville City Council meeting takes place at 7 p.m. tonight at Civic Center, 311 Vernon St. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.