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The Gray Zone in the Power of Local Municipalities: Where Zoning Authority Clashes with State Law | Author: Skye L. Daley

The Gray Zone in the Power of Local Municipalities: Where Zoning Authority Clashes with State Law | Author: Skye L. Daley

This article will explore the oft-overlooked area of police powers granted to local municipalities by the California Constitution through the lens of marijuana dispensaries. These dispensaries, and the obstacles they face, provide the perfect vantage point from which to survey the current status of zoning power in California. This article will consider the extent and limits of what is known as the “police powers” of local municipalities: the power of cities, towns and counties to regulate, restrict, and proscribe the way in which land can be utilized within its borders. If local municipalities are the creation of the state—indeed, an extension of the state government’s power, subject to its whims—then can a city, town, or county simply defy the expressed will of the state legislature? Or, in a parallel real example, how can a fast-food restaurant hoping to open a new location in Los Angeles be banned outright from an entire community, even though such restaurants are sanctioned by the legislature in Sacramento?

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