Upland seal

By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 05/02/16 – 4:26 PM PDT |

UPLAND >> Upland has a new ally in its battle against the California Cannabis Coalition: the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Known more for suing cities on behalf of taxpayer’s rights, the association is now representing Upland in its lengthy legal battle with the coalition.

In a petition filed last week, the association’s legal arm asked the state Supreme Court to review an appellate court ruling, claiming the decision has created a loophole that could circumvent the public’s right to vote on new taxes.

“We were alarmed by the opinion of the court of appeal’s ruling because it’s a disastrous opinion for the taxpayers,” said Timothy Bittle, director of legal affairs for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association. “If a tax was proposed by initiative, a city council or a board of supervisors could adopt it without holding an election. There would be no voter approval ever.”

The legal dispute stems from an effort by the California Cannabis Coalition to put before the voters a ballot measure proposing to amend Upland’s current ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, allowing three in the northwest part of town. The proposed law would also require dispensaries to pay $75,000 in annual licensing and inspection fees.

Despite gaining the necessary signatures to place the initiative on a special ballot, Upland opted to wait for the next general election — this November — because elected officials believed the $75,000 in fees was essentially a tax.

In an unprecedented move, an appellate court released an opinion in March siding with the California Cannabis Coalition, finding that Upland is obligated to hold a special election, that the fees weren’t a tax.

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