SAN JOSE -- Expressing frustration with state and federal governments' lack of guidance on immigration and marijuana, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors moved Tuesday to help house undocumented immigrant kids left stranded at the Mexican border and to ban medical cannabis dispensaries.

The board voted 4-1 to formulate a plan that would temporarily house the immigrant children currently being placed in barracks-like detention centers as they await a court hearing to determine whether or not they have to leave the country.

Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who represents the large southernmost swath of the county, was the sole dissenting vote. He questioned the need for the county's involvement in a federal issue, and agreed with a number of his constituents who spoke out about keeping an altruistic eye closer to home.

"I cannot in good conscience vote to create a new program stretching our resources when we already have so many unmet needs in our county," Wasserman said.

County officials will research ways the county can work with nonprofits such as the Bill Wilson Center and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, which would place kids temporarily through a "host family" model.

"Part of our objective as political leaders is thinking about the weakest among us, irrespective of their origin," said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. "We all have to live on this planet together."

She added that it is important that involved organizations can demonstrate to concerned citizens that additional activities related to immigrant housing won't hurt existing services.


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"I know your heart is in it, but that transparency will be very important going forward," she said.

The supervisors voted unanimously to ban marijuana dispensaries. There were only a handful of possible sites outside city limits where county zoning would have allowed a cannabis collective, and deputy county executive Sylvia Gallegos said those rules, drafted in the late 1990s, are too outdated.

While the board nixed the regulations and enacted a ban, officials insisted that it doesn't mean there can never be a pot club in unincorporated areas governed by the county board. As part of the directive, staff will monitor what happens in San Jose and revisit the matter should the number of dispensaries dip below 10. There are about 70 in San Jose now, but new city regulations are expected to force many to close.

Cannabis advocates in attendance had hoped the county would extend a moratorium instead of stripping the zoning regulations and going with the ban.

"The only way you can control the market is by putting reasonable regulations in place to get a handle on it," said Dave Hodges, owner of the All American Cannabis Club. "Without that, you are empowering drug dealers and creating a black market."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.