The Fortuna City Council voted unanimously tonight to extend its moratorium on industrial hemp.
“The moratorium being in place until adequate regulations can be established is important because the regulations are in a state of flux, the city needs to have sufficient time to review those regulations and adopt its own policies,” city manager Merritt Perry said reading from the staff report. “and cultivation of hemp is indistinguishable from the cultivation of cannabis without expensive and sophisticated testing equipment.”
The move takes effect immediately and extends the moratorium for 180 days.
Hemp, a variant of the cannabis plant, is federally legal and unregulated, while marijuana itself is heavily regulated at all levels of government in California.
Hemp contains less than 0.3% of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes intoxication. Plotz noted that Humboldt County was one of 29 counties across the state that had implemented a moratorium on cultivation in the wake of the federal legalization of hemp through President Donald Trump’s signing of the Farm Bill in December 2018.
The council originally passed the moratorium in early June. That move was for a 45-day moratorium. The vote Monday night extends it for roughly the next six months.
The council voted 3-1, with Councilwoman Tami Trent dissenting and Mayor Sue Long recused, to move forward with a 56-unit housing development located near Redwood Memorial Hospital.
“It would be basically a gated community,” said Liz Shorey, Fortuna’s deputy director of community development.
The housing development is proposed to house individuals 55 and older and would be all rentals, according to the developer.
Prior to the final vote, there was a lengthy discussion about the proposed parking situation for the housing development, which plans for 121 spaces — slightly more than two spaces per home.
“Each unit will have a single-car garage,” said Shorey. “… Some of the units have parking in the driveway; others have parking areas nearby. They are not quite onsite, but they are near the residences.”
Councilman Dean Glaser said ironing out parking issues is vital because “the major problem we run into developments is insufficient parking.”
“It is intended for a senior development, so that has a little lower parking demand,” Shorey responded.
Councilman Jeremy Stanfield was impressed with the proposal.
“I think this is a neat project,” he said. “… I think you have adequately addressed parking. I’m excited about the project.”
Trent cited road issues as the primary reason for her no vote.
“I didn’t vote no for your project, I voted no for the road, but it’s still going so congratulations on your project,” she said.
Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.