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May 25, 2010 > 'Head shops' and a history of the moratorium

'Head shops' and a history of the moratorium

By Shavon Walker

Union City City Council voted unanimously to lift a moratorium on "head shops" and drug paraphernalia shops on May 11, 2010, replacing the moratorium with a new ordinance. Lifting the moratorium was the last step in a number of actions required to manage the location of these shops in Union City.

The moratorium was originally adopted because city staff needed time to research the city's requirements for drug paraphernalia shops and smoke shops, to prepare a zoning text amendment and hold a public hearing by the Planning Commission. The council also needed to consider the information before a review; either approving or voting down the item.

In September 22, 2009, the council adopted an emergency ordinance imposing a 45 day moratorium on operating or building new drug paraphernalia shops or head shops. This was done according to Government Code Section 65858. On October 2, 2009, the ordinance was extended to 10 months and 15 days, to expire on September 22, 2010.

After the two ordinances were adopted, amendment AT-07-09 was passed. This affected the regulation of the shops and retail tobacco stores. All references to drug paraphernalia and head shops were removed from the Zoning Ordinance, since this was already regulated by state and federal laws; it is illegal to traffic in drug paraphernalia under these laws in California. In addition, the distribution of tobacco within 1,000 feet of "sensitive use" areas, such as schools and churches, was banned.

Many bodies, such as the Economic and Community Development Department, the Planning Commission, the City Attorney's office and City Council undertook a great deal of research and evaluation to find methods to regulate drug paraphernalia, head shops, tobacco and smoke shops. Due to their hard work, all actions were completed, and the moratorium is no longer needed. The new ordinance will become law 30 days after its second reading, which is scheduled for May 25, 2010.

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