With less than two months before Election Day, a committee to combat a medical marijuana measure on the Imperial Beach ballot was formed Tuesday, according to City Clerk Jacqueline Hald.
The group called Citizens Against Prop S was created by former Imperial Beach Mayor Diane Rose and Dee McLean, a South Bay Union School District trustee for 12 years and wife of former councilman Fred McLean.
Rose called the Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach “an assault to our quality of life” and “the biggest threat to our economic development and quality of life since the Brown Field air cargo proposal.”
Many people will begin to vote within a month, as mail ballots begin to go out. Some mail ballots have already been sent.
Rose acknowledges there is little time left, but said, “I truly believe if we can get the word out to the community on what this would really mean that the people of IB will do the right thing.”
The former two-term mayor believes dispensaries would derail economic development in IB at a critical time before a new hotel, Pier South, opens on Seacoast Drive.
If passed, Proposition S would repeal current ordinances that prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries and would allow dispensaries in commercial or industrial zones as long as they are 300 feet from each other and 600 feet from a school.
Analysis by city staff found that potentially 20 or more dispensaries could open in IB on Palm Avenue, Seacoast Drive and possibly on 13th Street.
Last week, Rose spoke to a gathering of about a dozen members of the Seacoasters, a business and residential group She intends to reach out to PTAs and other groups to find more people who oppose Prop. S.
“Nobody is challenging the value of medical marijuana when it’s properly used,” said Robert Miller, who founded the group earlier this year.
“The issue is that our little town was targeted because it’s easier to get it on the ballot here. I mean there’s no debate among the Seacoasters. It’s a flat out no.”
Meanwhile, the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce said it takes no stances on political issues.
Supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries have argued patients should be able to get marijuana in IB.
But Rose said Americans for Safe Access, Campaign for a Cause and people who have given financial support to Prop. S are outsiders who do not have IB's interests at heart.
“These are outside special interests trying to exploit our community,” Rose said. “They’re pumping thousands and thousands of dollars into this, and why do you think that is? Cause it’s very profitable to them.
“I have to believe that the citizens of IB won’t be hoodwinked into [buying] what they’re selling.”
According to campaign finance documents, more than $45,000 was invested in Yes on S efforts from Jan. 1-June 30 to pay consultants and some signature gatherers, before the initiative was approved to appear on the ballot in July.
ASA Vice Chair Marcus Boyd, who helped craft the Safe Access ordinance, and signers of the original petition are from Imperial Beach, but the majority of donations to the campaign have come from outside Imperial Beach.
Rose was joined by Mayor Jim Janney, former council members Mayda Winter and Patricia McCoy and sheriff’s Lt. Marco Garmo in signing No on S arguments and rebuttals that will be in voter information packets.
Aside from Mayor Janney, none of the No on S signatories attended City Council meetings this summer when dispensaries were discussed.
Public comments in favor of Prop. S greatly outnumbered no on Prop. S speakers at council meetings.
Rose said she watched the meeting on television at home, and was surprised that the council allowed Prop. S to appear on the November ballot. She didn’t begin to get organized until the council voted down its own competing ballot initiative in August.
“And I don’t think I knew then what the initiative said, what it would really mean,” she said. ”I think it’s just human nature that there’s not going to be a huge outpouring before something happens.
“Now that it’s on the ballot, I think we’re going to see a lot of people coming out against it.”
_San Diego Democrats_ endorsed Prop. S, while Republicans decided last week to oppose the ballot measure.