After nine months of revision discussions, the Cloverdale City Council approved the first reading of the revised cannabis ordinance on June 26. The ordinance was approved in a 4-0 vote following a public hearing, with Councilmember Mary Ann Brigham recusing herself.
Changes in the ordinance include: provisions for special events; clarification regarding setbacks; updates to license types per changes to state law; maintaining a maximum of two dispensaries; additional clean-up items with regard to language and phrasing.
During the public hearing, one speaker got up to request that the rules pertaining to public events be more detailed when it comes to how many cannabis-related events can be approved.
“What we would need to do is come back to the council with a special cannabis event application that would set forth requirements,” City Manager David Kelley said.
Because the primary available space in town to host a cannabis-related public event is the Cloverdale Citrus Fair, Mayor Melanie Bagby said that she doesn’t see a reason to limit the number of events before there’s an evident need to.
“To me, limiting events in an existing event center just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” she said once the discussion moved back to council. “I think if we were inundated with them, then the council would want to come back and say ‘we are having a huge festival per week, it is impacting people’ … then I think it’s going to become an issue.”
The rest of the council agreed, and indicated that if the number of events does become a problem, they can change the permit process without amending the ordinance.
Amendments to the original ordinance
When the original ordinance was adopted, special events weren’t addressed within it. Changes in California’s cannabis law led the city to address them in its own ordinance. Per the adopted amendment, the ordinance allows the city manager to approve temporary cannabis event permits, and gives applicants the ability to appeal denied permits to the Cloverdale City Council.
One of the most discussed points of the ordinance is how setbacks, specifically school setbacks work.
People have expressed wanting setbacks from schools and child care centers to be greater than they are, as well as clarity regarding how setbacks work for different types of cannabis businesses. While no changes to the setback amounts were made, the city did add additional information to the ordinance that specifies how setbacks are measured — in the case of dispensaries, setbacks are measured in a straight line from the entrance of the site to the nearest property line of the protected site.
The amended ordinance also includes a “setback waiver,” which states that location requirements can be waived by the planning commission during a public hearing, if an applicant can show that an “impassable physical separation exists between land uses or parcels.”
The final setbacks put forth in the ordinance are: outdoor commercial cultivation, indoor commercial cultivation, dispensaries and micro businesses to be 600 feet from schools/daycares, 200 feet from parks/libraries/youth centers and 100 feet from residential zoning.
While the revised ordinance brought to the council on June 26 outlines an increase in allowed dispensaries from two to three, the increase was shot down in a 2-2 vote (Vice Mayor Gus Wolter and Councilmember Jason Turner in favor, Bagby and Councilmember Marta Cruz against).
Wolter expressed a desire to increase the number to three dispensaries so that, if the council wanted to allow a third dispensary in the future, the ordinance wouldn’t have to be amended to do so.
“By settling on two dispensaries, the council knowingly decided to overestimate the number of dispensaries that our city population and our trade area could support,” Bagby said, citing a packet from when she was elected that outlined how many dispensaries an area could support at 10,000 people per dispensary. “Since our population hasn’t changed that much, and we’re already over by about 11,000 on the estimate, I think it’s wise and prudent for us to stay with the two licenses right now.”
The city initially adopted a cannabis ordinance in September 2017, but it was brought back on Sept. 25, 2018 for revisions based on the suggestions of city staff. A revised ordinance was brought to the council on Nov. 13, but was brought back again on Jan. 22 because of two new councilmembers being sworn in. After a final review by the council on March 13, the revised ordinance was sent to the planning commission on April 4 and May 7.
Since the council made no further revisions to the ordinance on June 26, it will come back for a second reading, most likely on the consent calendar, at the July 24 council meeting.