From the Mayor's Desk - December 2013

Unless you’ve been out of the country for a while you are probably aware the city has been working to create a Public Development Authority (PDA) for the express purpose of applying for a retail marijuana store license. There are a number of reasons we have undertaken this effort. Foremost among them is our belief a PDA will place more emphasis on fulfilling the goals of I-502 rather than focusing solely on the financial bottom line. Those goals include public health and safety, substance-abuse prevention, research, education, health care funding and law enforcement services.

The idea of forming a PDA has been a topic of discussion at our City Council meetings dating back to our September 10, 2013 meeting. We held a Public Hearing regarding this issue at our November 12, 2013 meeting and it has been a recurring theme during Public Comment at virtually every council meeting for the past couple of months.

The council voted to approve the creation of the PDA at the November 12th meeting and voted to approve the appointment of a board of directors to oversee the activities of the PDA at a special meeting on November 19th. The PDA board consists of Rachele Rice, Chuck Green, Dan Smith, Tim Dudley, and Steven Grimsrud. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for volunteering to take the lead in this effort. This is a groundbreaking endeavor and I feel the composition of this board provides our city with a diverse group of intelligent, dedicated individuals who are willing to volunteer their time and energies to help make this undertaking a success. There are any number of questions and concerns regarding the implementation of I-502 but due to space limitations I will just address a couple of the “biggies” that I’ve heard over the past several weeks.

Why is the city doing this? As a city we feel these challenges are best met head-on rather than from a reactive position. Sticking our heads in the ground and hoping for the best just doesn’t seem like a sound strategy.

Will this have a negative impact on our city and/or home values? With this being uncharted waters it’s impossible to say one way or another but we are not aware of any credible studies that would support those concerns. Will retail marijuana sales bring increased crime to North Bonneville? There is no reason to think so as the Washington State Liquor Board has prescribed far tighter controls over retail marijuana sales than those that pertain to alcohol sales. The PDA can also help supplement our current contract with the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office in order to increase patrols if this does become a concern in the future.

Will Gorge Days become Hempfest South? No. There are no plans to incorporate marijuana into Gorge Days.

If you have questions or comments about this or anything else regarding our city you can reach me at 427-8182 or via email.