In each of the four cities in The Tribune’s coverage area – Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Stanton and Westminster – a time of reckoning is approaching.
For Stanton, there’s a special election set for Tuesday, in which voters will get a to decide on a sharp increase in the “bed tax” on motels and hotels in the city and – separately – the power to set taxes for cannabis (marijuana) businesses in the city.
Now, there are currently no legal pot shops in town, but the direction of this is toward legalizing and attracting a major cultivation, processing and sale center such as Cookies in the Los Angeles County City of Maywood. A consultant has told the city council that such a development could bring in $1.4 million or more annually to a city perpetually tight on money.
There’s been no polling on either of these issues, but it’s probably a fair bet that most voters in Stanton won’t mind a tax increase paid by visitors to the city. Most of the hospitality business in Stanton is on Beach Boulevard, and many of those motels are – how shall we put it? –budget operations.
Looking toward the future, though, Beach is one of the busiest thoroughfares in Orange County and with an upgrade in its sometimes scruffy areas, it’s possible that could change.
More problematical is the cannabis issue. A million bucks or more a year is nothing to sneeze at. However, there are a couple of potential sticking points. Does Stanton really want to be known as the “pot city” of the OC? While California has legalized the possession and sale of marijuana, the U.S. government still considers it to be an illegal drug.
More immediately, the consultant told the council that the odors from such an operation could be reduced by 80 percent, meaning that neighbors could still get a hefty whiff of byproduct. Is that like we used to call “a contact high” at a rock concert?
As in all real estate, the key would be “location, location, location.” Voters who might approve of a cannabis plan in theory might be less thrilled with one anywhere near them.
The hunt for a home in Huntington
Location is also the key for Huntington Beach’s handling of the homelessness issue. Under a federal court order, Orange County cities can’t enforce their ordinances on overnight camping and loitering by the unsheltered unless they can provide a bed as an alternative.
That means a shelter, or “navigation center” as it’s more delicately known. Four possible locations have been brought forward and all four have been knocked down by community outrage and/or legal action.
What it comes down to is very few people want a homeless shelter anywhere near where they live, shop, send their kids to school or play soccer. On the other hand, very few people are happy with the idea of homeless folks on every median and in every parking lot begging for money, etc.
The new city manager, Oliver Chi, is of the opinion that there has to be an emergency shelter somewhere in town as a first step toward a regional approach with some larger facility that provides services which could help people get off the streets permanently.
Surf City’s path on this may be worth watching. Perhaps it’s inevitable that the price for tidier streets will end up being a shelter in most cities. But how long will it take before that realization takes hold and how long before a place for it is discovered?
Usually Reliable Sources is posted on alternate weeks. Next time, we talk about parks in Garden Grove and rancor in Westminster.