Danville council expands tobacco retailer moratorium to one year

The Danville Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend its temporary tobacco retailer moratorium for an additional 10 months and 15 days, banning any new tobacco-selling shops in Danville for a total of one year.

“I think we need to treat (tobacco) like alcohol has been treated over the years, we have to shield our children from it,” Mayor Newell Arnerich said during the hearing at the Town Meeting Hall.

First enacted by Town Council at its Feb. 20 meeting, the urgency ordinance places a moratorium on the establishment of any tobacco retailer, vapor lounge or hookah lounge within town limits. The moratorium grants the council additional time to both research the issue and consider additional regulations to these businesses.

“One of the statements in our motto is the outstanding quality of life. I think when you look at the concept of reducing tobacco retailers it is aimed at promoting health in the community and particularly among our youth,” Councilwoman Renee Morgan said. “This ordinance goes hand in hand with what we stand for as a town and who we are and what we want our town to be. This is the best ordinance we can do for Danville.”

The moratorium will allow the council additional time to piece together a more permanent ordinance that would limit the availability of tobacco retailing and products in Danville, particularly among youth.

City Attorney Robert Ewing said that hopefully the Town Council will have a more permanent plan towards achieving this goal it can present the Danville Planning Commission this summer or early fall.

“We’re not going to make it perfect for all time. The moratorium is worded pretty broadly, so I believe it covers everything out on the market but certainly people are inventive and there will be new things that come up,” Ewing said. “I cannot guarantee that everything we are going to adopt on a permanent bases will solve the problem forever, but we do try and stay vigilant about it and try to keep ahead of the game.”

The moratorium was first brought into question when two new tobacco retailers — Blue Clove Smoke Shop at 177 Hartz Ave. and Green Berries at the Crossroads Shopping Center — attempted to open in Danville. According to Ewing, the Hartz Avenue location, which would have been located less than 500 feet from San Ramon Valley High School, has apparently decided to not pursue the location.

“As we all know if kids want to drink at someones house they are going to drink at someone’s house we can’t stop that,” Councilman Robert Storer said. “If kids want to buy weed, alcohol, drugs, we can’t stop that. So we need to emphasize that it starts at home and the parents should be on top of all this. We are going to do everything we can to protect the community but it starts at home and that is where all the good work should start.”

In other business

* Tuesday night the council unanimously endorsed an amendment to Danville’s social host ordinance, adding marijuana to its list of prohibited substances.

The proposed new law would mean if minors consume marijuana products on private property with the owner’s knowledge, the owner could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of California law. Penalties can range from a fine worth thousands of dollars to a potential jail sentence of up to six months.

“Strengthening our social host ordinance to include cannabis and cannabis products sends a strong signal that we are all responsible for the health and safety of our youths,” said Patty Hoyt, alcohol policy coordinator of the San Ramon Valley Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention Team. “We are giving law enforcement the ability to cite those responsible and deter future violations.”

The ordinance will return to the council for final approval on April 17 and is expected to take effect the following month.

“It is illegal for children to use for a reason,” Hoyt added. “Studies show the vulnerability of the adolescent brain to exposure of cannabis, especially through regular use. It is also clearly associated with impaired driving and increased risk for driving accidents.

If a person under the age of 18 is found to be in possession of marijuana, they will be issued a citation to appear with a parent or guardian at the Danville juvenile diversion program.

* The council recognized April as National Volunteer Recognition Month. The council recognized the 917 volunteers who donated a total of 18,745 hours of community service to the town.

“What is really extraordinary when you think about it nearly 1,000 people from our community put that much time in,” Arnerich said. “It is the equivalent of almost 10 full time employees, it is absolutely extraordinary.”

*Lend a Hand Day 2018 is April 28 in Danville. Volunteers will help Danville’s senior neighborhoods with with a spring yard clean up. Volunteers must be 14 years old or over.

Published April 4, 2018. DanvilleSanRamon.com



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