Friday, September 8, 2017

Let States And Cities Establish Their Own Cannabis Laws

Throwback to Summer 2013: I was one of 18 U.S. mayors that co-sponsored a resolution calling on the federal government to respect state and local cannabis laws. The resolution was presented at the annual meeting of the US Mayors and adopted with bipartisan support. 
I was quoted in press reports stating: “The prohibition on marijuana has been ineffective and counterproductive. Voters in states and cities that wish to break the stranglehold of organized crime over the distribution and sale of marijuana in their communities by legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana should have the option of doing so.”
The need for local control is even more imperative today. The restraint established by Congress in 2014 on the Department of Justice from destroying patient access to medical marijuana by criminally prosecuting cannabis cultivators and dispensaries nationwide expires at the end of September 2017.  This article explains what's happening:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How California Women Won The Right To Vote: Lecture by Elaine Elinson

In 1911, California passed Amendment 8, granting women the right to vote in state elections almost a decade before the 19th Amendment provided women's suffrage throughout the U.S. On August 26, 2017, in San Leandro, noted author Elaine Elinson spoke on How California Women Won The Right To Vote as part of the Women's Equality Day Celebration at the San Leandro Museum and Casa Peralta.

Elinson is the co-author of "Wherever There's a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California." The book tells the story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. You can learn more about the book and Elinson's other writings at The event was co-sponsored by the San Leandro Public Library, Community Impact Lab and OSIsoft. I recorded the video.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Come To San Leandro For The Best Craft Beer in America

Love craft beer? There is a small but mighty city in the East Bay I want to introduce you to. It's called San Leandro. 

You have to come visit us this weekend (Sat. Aug. 26th). Both Drake's & 21st Amendment are hosting celebrations.  

For details visit

And while you are in town, also stop by Cleophus Quealy.

Friday, August 18, 2017

San Leandro Should Honor Former City Council Member Surlene Grant

San Leandro City Council July 1, 1998, with its first African American member Surlene Grant.

The national news can be so disheartening. Hatred and prejudice against African Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants and transgender persons (to name but a few groups), while always present, are like types of cancers that have metastasized across America this year.

Let’s act, right here in San Leandro, to change this storyline. Specifically, I support the effort to name a public plaza or other location in honor of former City Council member Surlene Grant. This proposal was first raised by community leader Bernard Ashcraft and advocated by former City Council member Ursula Reed at several City Council meetings in 2016.

The first African American elected to the San Leandro City Council, Grant’s election set an important precedent, opening the doors of City Hall to persons historically disenfranchised. Today, the majority of City Council members are persons of color. Grant spearheaded the city’s first ordinance requiring affordable housing in the construction of new, for-sale residential housing. More recently, Grant co-founded and serves as a leader of Unity in the Community, a coalition of San Leandrans that celebrates our differences while focused on erasing racism and bigotry in San Leandro.

As current events show, how a city memorializes its past can send a profoundly negative message to certain segments of its population. Alternatively, building and place names, statues and other public art can send powerful, positive symbolic messages.

This is why I was proud to join with other San Leandrans in successfully lobbying the school board in 2009 to name the new campus near San Leandro High School after Fred T. Korematsu. He was an ordinary American wronged by our government who showed extraordinary courage and became a national civil rights hero. Furthermore, despite deeds prohibiting the sale of houses to non-whites which prevented Korematsu and his wife from purchasing a home in the City of San Leandro after World War II, Korematsu loved our community and showed his dedication to San Leandro by being a member of San Leandro Lions Club for 30 years.

The Mayor and City Council should take similar action and recognize another notable San Leandran who has helped make our city a more tolerant community. By dedicating a public location in Surlene Grant’s name, we show that San Leandro acknowledges the racism of its past, embraces its diversity of today, and is a welcoming community for all in the future. Through our words and actions, let’s be a shining beacon of positive energy, mutual respect and tolerance for our state and nation.


Please feel free to share this page with others. If you agree with this effort, please share your views the Mayor and City Council by contacting them by email message to

Only by many San Leandrans stepping forward and contacting the Mayor and City Council will this proposal become a reality. The power to make change in our city rests in our hands. We simply need to act in unison. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Contradictions in San Leandro's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Process

The San Leandro City Council imposed a requirement on the Davis Street Wellness Center, one of the successful applicants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in San Leandro, to have its plans to open a dispensary approved the Board of Zoning Adjustments within a year of receiving its license. This made no sense, particularly because the same requirement was not imposed on the two other entities that received dispensary licenses.
Davis Street has been diligently looking at potential sites for the dispensary and submitted its plans to the City months ago. Finding an appropriate site given limitations under the City zoning code is not a straightforward process. Plus the review process takes time particularly if the Mayor and City Council members seek to influence the process.
If there should be any time limit, it should apply once a dispensary's plans to operate are approved. At that point, the opening of the facility is within the control of the operator. And it is in the City's interest that the facility open in a timely manner so that residents can obtain their medical marijuana and the city can collect tax revenue. 
This is not what has occurred with Harborside, the first entity to receive a medical marijuana dispensary license in San Leandro. Harborside's plans were approved a year ago. It undertaken no work at the commercial site it has leased to renovate and convert the building into a dispensary. Why would it spend the time, money and effort to secure a license and then not work diligently to open the facility? 
Here is a recent article on the situation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Recreational Cannabis Should Be Legal Under Federal Law

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is proposing a far-reaching bill that would both legalize marijuana at the federal level and encourage states to legalize it locally through incentives.
Adult recreational marijuana use will be legal in California next January, and a majority of states permit use of medical marijuana. Over 30 million Americans regularly use cannabis. 

Why are we still criminalizing its use at the federal level? 

I support this new legislation.

Transgender Rights: No One Gets Left Behind On The Path To Equal Rights

Flags are deeply powerful symbols. I flew the LGBT Pride Flag at San Leandro City Hall during the US Supreme Court arguments over marriage equality to show San Leandro's support for the full recognition of the rights of LGBT persons. Our action led Oakland, Berkeley and other cities to follow San Leandro's lead. 

Today, transgender persons are under attack by President Trump. To show solidarity with the transgender community the Dolan Law Firm, the law firm that I work at, is displaying the Transgender Pride Flags. Far too many transgender persons have suffered pain and emotional turmoil from being marginalized and treated unfairly because of their gender identity.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Why I'm supporting San Leandro Schools Measure B

Here is a message I sent to friends and neighbors on why I'm supporting Measure B and request that they do so too: 
I have always believed that strong schools make for a strong city. But from serving as Mayor of San Leandro, I came to appreciate fully that the safety, prosperity and quality of life in San Leandro are firmly linked to the quality of our public schools.
San Leandrans have benefitted tremendously by financially supporting our local schools. Overcrowding at the high school was eliminated, a beautiful theater used by students and the community was opened, and necessary seismic upgrades were completed. 
School bond measures, however, can only be used for the construction, renovation and modernization of school facilities. To generate local funds to attract and retain quality teachers, support core academic programs and reduce class sizes, school districts in California have only one option: a parcel tax. That is what San Leandro has done. 
Our local parcel tax, however, is soon expiring. Thus, the school district has placed before the voters Measure B which renews and extends the parcel tax to support our schools.
Please join with my family in voting YES on Measure B. 
We all benefit when our public schools succeed.
Thank you for your support.
All the best,
Stephen Cassidy

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Developer Again Attempting To Circumvent San Leandro Zoning Code

This message was posted on by Lindsay White on August, 1, 2017:
The proposed 73-unit apartment complex is 5 stories tall, has parking for 146 vehicles and includes 64 car stackers. It seriously violates the existing zoning code. This message is from Lindsay White and Dave Ruedi on Joaquin Avenue and Debbie and Evan Adams on Estudillo Avenue. We are the homeowners next to the property located at 1388 Bancroft Avenue, which is across Estudillo from Bancroft Middle School.
In 2016, a developer proposed building a 50-foot (think 5 stories) apartment complex with 51 units on this site. The proposal was opposed by many in the community. This year, the same developer has submitted a new proposal for an even bigger, denser complex, featuring 73 units and car stackers for parking. The City’s zoning code only permits a maximum of 31 units at the site.
The proposed complex towers over Bancroft Middle School and would be, by far, the tallest building in San Leandro between Bancroft Avenue and 580, creating the precedent for the construction of additional 5-story and taller buildings immediately adjacent to, or within, our neighborhoods.
The proposed complex includes parking for 146 vehicles and, because of the building’s massive size, the plans call for the installation of 64 car stackers. These are at least 13-feet high, mechanical devices that allow one car to be hoisted above another. A significant number would be placed next to our properties.
The morning traffic generated by 146 vehicles, combined with the existing middle-school traffic, will make an already bad traffic situation intolerable.
We support additional housing in San Leandro, including at 1388 Bancroft, but built in conformity with the City's current zoning code. As a result, we have a formed a community outreach group and created a website, , for the purpose of advocating to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager that development of 1388 Bancroft Avenue follow the City’s current zoning code.
What can you do? If you believe, as we do, that 1388 Bancroft should be developed in compliance with the zoning code (a maximum of 31 units), please join us by emailing and provide your:
phone number
We will keep your contact information private and use it for the sole purpose of providing you news and updates on the project, including any public meetings or hearings.
Lindsay White and Dave Ruedi
Debbie and Evan AdamsBanc

Friday, July 14, 2017

Comment on the Misguided Negative Campaign Against Davis Wellness Center

Dear Friends:

When I served as Mayor from 2011 through 2014, by far the most consistent and outspoken opponent against San Leandro allowing providers of medical marijuana to open a dispensary was Council member Diana Souza. She voted against every any proposal involving medical marijuana claiming crime, reduced property values and youth drug addiction would all come with any dispensaries.

Fast forward to the present, one the greatest proponents of medical marijuana in San Leandro today is Ms. Souza.  However, her support is focused on one company that obtained a license for a dispensary in San Leandro and for which she serves as a consultant.  Ms. Souza has been vehement in opposing the effort by another provider, Davis Wellness Center, to establish its dispensary, and has repeatedly disparaged persons associated with the Davis Wellness Center and Davis Street Family Resource Center, a separate legal entity which for decades had aided the unprivileged in San Leandro and our surrounding communities with food, medical care, counseling, and other services. 

While the City Council has authorized licenses for three providers to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, including one issued almost two years ago, no dispensary has opened in San Leandro. This Monday night the City Council will be reviewing solely the license for Davis Wellness Center.   

I am concerned that Ms. Souza's negative campaign against the Davis Wellness Center based on an obvious conflict of interest has gained traction and support within some members of the City Council. For this reason, I am posting two recent letters to the San Leandro Times that were written in response to a recent critical letter by Ms. Souza.


I’m at a loss to understand Diana Souza’s (Letters, June 29) continual vitriol directed at Davis Street and at the Wellness Center (medicinal cannabis dispensary).

Ms. Souza asserts my relationship with the Wellness Center is for my personal financial gain. This is untrue. My role is to ensure the WC funds benefit local community needs.

And yes, Davis Street is the major beneficiary of their community benefits fund and the reason I’ve been involved with the WC. To secure a reliable stream of income for our non-
federally funded programs would mean those most basic needs (food and clothing) will never be subject to cuts.

Ms. Souza is connected to Blum. I can only believe that her anger directed at me, our programs and the new Wellness Center has something to do with her position with a direct competitor.

I support medicinal cannabis because of the experience of my daughter when she was diagnosed with lymphoma. I want anyone in my daughter’s position to have access to treatment
alternatives and I wholeheartedly welcome the Wellness Center, Harbors Side and Blum to San Leandro because my priority is and will always be to meet the needs of those with the most need
and least access.

- Rose Johnson, CEO

Davis St. Family Resource Center



In regard to Diana Souza’s letter questioning the integrity of our decision to apply for a Conditional Use Permit for the Davis Street Wellness Center, there is apparently a need for education about who we are and what we are setting out to achieve.

For more than a quarter century, The Davis Street Family Resource Center has been providing a myriad of social services for our neighbors in need. Our mission is to build on our clients’ own natural strengths to help them improve their futures and those of their families.

The formation of the Davis Street Wellness Center represents the same mission, applied to a larger, organization-wide scale. Just as we “help others help themselves” – we have opened our clinic, merged with other nonprofits, and are opening the Davis Street Wellness Center so we can stop depending on government funding to support Davis Street Family Resource Center and it’s programs.

Ironically, Davis Street is the region’s safety net yet, Davis Street is in need of a financial safety net of it’s own. It is up to us to find creative ways to pay for the programs and services to meet the ever-growing demand in our region. The Davis Street Wellness Center will both provide safe access to medical cannabis to the sick and provide a reliable, long term income stream to the Davis Street Family Resource Center through it’s community benefit program.

We are committed to providing vibrant and successful programming for our clients -- and that requires funding. If we are accused of doing everything in our power to see that Davis Street has a sustainable source of funding to continue – and even grow – the services that we provide for the region’s poor, we are blamable.

The reality is that someone in Ms. Souza’s immediate family works for a large dispensary, Blum, and her motivation for calling us out is a simple case of wanting to squelch a possible competitor. What she fails to realize it that the needs of our clients are great and that we are myopic in our focus to sustain Davis Street Family Resource Center.

We will not be deterred from our goal to fund our much-needed programs and services today and long into the future. We invite Ms. Souza and you to take a long, comprehensive look at who we are, go ahead and dig deep, our record speaks for itself.

- Gordan Galvan, President Board of Directors

Davis St. Family Resource Center