When Montebello Mayor Vanessa Delgado resigned in August to become a state senator, it looked like the council was going to be deadlocked over bringing marijuana businesses to town.
There’s no question now that’s the case. The council voted 2-2 on Councilman Bill Molinari’s proposal to delay any further decisions on the issue until after the March special election to fill her seat.
Molinari asked the council Wednesday to wait until Delgado’s replacement is selected.
“We should hold this matter over,” Molinari said. “Obviously, nothing is going to happen. The community should be allowed to have a discussion over this.”
Molinari and Councilwoman Vivian Romero supported waiting until March; Councilmen Art Barajas and Jack Hadjinian voted against it.
The council make-up could change in the Nov. 6 election when Barajas, Molinari and Romero’s seats will be on the ballot. The three are among 10 candidates.
The City Council voted 3-2 in February to allow commercial indoor cultivation, manufacturing and testing of marijuana. In May, by the same vote, council members agreed to allow home delivery businesses in the city.
Since then, the process of reviewing the 38 original applicants — the number is now down to 34 — apparently has bogged down. The City Council hired Diamond Bar-based HdL Companies in June to do that job of reviewing the applicants.
Then, acting City Manager Andrew Pasmant hired Los Angeles-based Tierra West Advisors to finish the first round of review when he felt the work wasn’t getting done.
There could be more disagreement ahead when Pasmant had Tierra West do more work for the second round.
In a discussion over the issue Wednesday, Romero questioned why Pasmant was using Tierra West, instead of HdL when the council had never approved a contract with the company.
Pasmant responded that HdL wasn’t getting the job done fast enough.
“The bottom line is that we needed to get these things reviewed,” he said, referring to the applications. “Staff had been chastised about we hadn’t completed the review.”
But Romero asked why city staff is “rushing” to finish the process..
“What is the urgency about bringing marijuana into the city that you had to bypass direction from the council?” she asked. “Why are we railroading this thing into the city?”
City Attorney Arnold Glassman objected to the term, “rushing,” saying if that was the case, licenses already would be approved.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Pasmant said he now expects HdL to finish the review by November, with a report going to the council in December.
Officials from HdL didn’t return a call for comment Thursday.
However, Romero said Matt Eaton, HdL’s cannabis compliance manager, had told her that his company was given only six days in July to review the applications – and that wasn’t enough time.
Pasmant said that HdL had months to review the applications and wasn’t getting the job done.
Hadjinian objected to Romero’s complaints, saying she was doing it because “it’s an election year.”
“You’re grandstanding,” he said.