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City Bans New Head Shops With Urgency Ordinance

An ordinance passed Tuesday will put a moratorium on tobacco shops for 45 days while the council considers whether to ban new head shops permanently.

The City Council voted to place a moratorium on new tobacco shops Tuesday in the wake of public uproar over the opening of a new head shop in the heart of .

The urgency ordinance passed in a 4-1 vote with Councilman Tom Adams as the lone dissenter. It bans the issuance of business licenses to new head shops for 45 days while the council considers whether to make the ban permanent.

According to some residents, the moratorium came too late. A new head shop, O.G. Smoke Shop, obtained a business license and will take over a storefront at 512 South Myrtle Avenue.

Several residents decried the shop's opening at the council meeting Tuesday, saying that head shops increase the availability of drug paraphernalia like glass pipes and bongs used to smoke marijuana, methamphetamine and other illicit substances.

Pam Fitzpatrick, owner of the toy store in Old Town, said a moratorium should be passed even though it wouldn't keep O.G. out.

"I want to send a message to O.G. Smoke Shop that people don’t want them here," she said.

Collin Spencer, listed as the owner of O.G. on its business license, did not return a message seeking comment on this story. The company's website boasts that its Azusa location carries "the largest selection of glassware in the SGV. Hand pipes, water pipes, specialty pipes, and hookah pipes."

Before the moratorium passed, Jamie Holes, parent of a student at , said the city should not just wind up confining smoke shops to certain zones. She wanted them banned outright.

"I’m concerned that we may be unsuccessful in dealing with a problem that we’re not directly addressing," Holes told the council. "We’re asking you to reduce access and availability of drug paraphernalia and synthetic drugs in the community and to our youth."

With the moratorium's passage, the city will now have 45 days before it must take up the issue again. The ban can be extended to one or two years following a public hearing, City Attorney Craig Steele said. That time would allow the council to determine whether to ban the shops entirely or relegate them to certain zones.

Three smoke shops currently operate in Monrovia, and they will not be affected by the ban, Steele said. But the moratorium does make a “pretty strong community statement about the nature of that type of business in the city and what the council’s feeling is...," he said.

In voting against the moratorium, Adams clarified that he was only against the use of urgency ordinances and would support a normal ordinance establishing a moratorium.

Kate K. April 08, 2012 at 06:33 AM
Thanks for the interesting info about the recruitment policies of our military: This is new to me, and enlightening regarding the military's perception of our current norms, what our young people are doing, and what is more or less important to the military in recruiting soldiers.
Tom Adams April 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
There was a similar "smoke shop" on Myrtle for a long time with no complaints that I ever heard but then no one was drawing any attention to it. That shop moved up on Foothill last year, several blocks from the other one on Foothill and no complaints that I was aware of. Just maybe the one that was on Myrtle so long with no issues survived because no one started the campaign against it? One thing is certain, not one child was harmed because they were there.
Chris Ziegler April 09, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Tom, Thanks for the insight! I've walked past the smoke shop countless times and have never seen a customer, much less a minor attempting a purchase. Seems like this is a well-intended but unnecessary distraction of our limited resources - I really hate to see intrusive governmental actions employed as a first course of action. Especially, when there is a record that indicates a non-issue. Ultimately, Monrovia consumers will determine how many and what type of business exist in our town.
Gayle M. Montgomery April 09, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I shopped in the other smoke shop. Not that I smoke ANYTHING, but it sold lottery tickets. I vaguely remember seeing other "smoking products" in there, though I may be wrong. I think I did because, at the time, it hit a somewhat discordant note with me, but I may be wrong. You realize, of course, what this controversy does, don't you? We've given them more advertising in this conveyance then they could have paid for at less cost. There's going to be a rash of individuals paying attention to something that otherwise most probably would have been ignored. Great for business. I personally have a problem with the "my values are better than your values" concept of this thread. When they knees used to let me, I walked up and down Myrtle with some regularity and poked my head in many of the shops. I don't remember the name of the place that was on the opposite side of the street from the Doll Makers, but it was an ethereal book store and merchandising place of things I considered rather "Oony Goony." I thought why would we need that on Myrtle? It lasted quite a while. I didn't protest, not that I thought no one would listen, and perhaps they would not have, but because, for some people, there is a niche for such things. I winced at the comment that said "at least we don't have casinos." If we had Native Americans, we would. For that matter, it would derive revenue. I don't need to go there, but they do make money and provide jobs.
Erin Thorn May 02, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Those statistics are much lower than the actual numbers. I have a current student and a recent grad and I hear things that make me feel like I had been walking around with blinders on. I'm not sure you would ever get the true numbers, but we should give that survey to seniors. Not sure what the impact of a "head shop" would be. I do know of a little market that was selling Spice within 100 feet of an elementary school, while "employing" teenagers. I do think he sold it because he knew there was a market here in Monrovia for it.

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