Sonoma Planning Commission Makes 14 Recommendations for New Cannabis Ordinance

This past Thursday night (May 9, 2019) the city of Sonoma Planning Commission reviewed the proposed cannabis ordinances and made a number of useful recommendations, though it does fall short of the number and types of businesses the City Council is currently considering (see #1). For those who may be interested, the ordinances can be seen here in their entirety.

The above video is a very interesting 20 minute excerpt from the meeting. We thank Robert Jacob, a former Mayor of Sebastopol and owner of a number of cannabis businesses for his public comments during the meeting. In a lively back-and-forth, he took exception to Hdl Companies, the consulting firm the city hired to help it fashion the ordinances. HdL’s representative, Tim Cromartie, was present and responded to Mr. Jacob’s assertion that the ordinances were overbearing and prohibitive. Mr. Jacob pointed out a number of issues with the ordinances and made suggestions for a less restrictive approach. The Planning Commission adopted a number of Mr. Jacobs points (as well as some of our own) in its recommendations to the City Council.

The City Council is free to accept or deny any of the following recommendations:

1. Permit only 1 retail storefront (with delivery). No non-storefront delivery, lab, or manufacturer

2. No live video feed to City Manager or Police Dept (footage can be reviewed later if/when necessary), no armed security (unclear on if they should be uniformed)

3. Applicant should not be required to have lease in hand to apply for permit

4. Delete the Community Benefits paragraph

5. Restrict cannabis businesses to Commercial Zones only.

6. Buffer Zones
Figure 1: Add the commercial on the south side of Plaza to Prod buffer
Figure 2: All fine with that buffer
Figure 3: Include Safeway and southern portion of 5th Street West Center in buffer
Figure 4: All fine with this buffer

7. Regarding Proposal Review Process, fix language “An administrative rating system shall be created by the City Manager” to add “and approved by the City Council” (5.36.111)

8. Delete reference to “federal law” (Section 5.36.010. Purpose and Intent.)

9. Evidence of sufficient capital to start business: Majority agrees on deleting Paragraph (l) Startup Cost and Evidence of Sufficient Capitalization (5.36.110 Required Proposal Content)

10. Fix liability language

11. Only necessary to “buzz in” once, to enter dispensary retail space

12. Delete (c) from Section 5.36.420. Community Relations – Liquor stores aren’t required to provide outreach, so why cannabis, which isn’t even addictive?

13. Signage: Majority wishes to delete (4) and (5) from (f) Signage and Notices (Section 5.36.310. General Operating Requirements)

14. Delete all of Section 5.36.410. Promulgation of Regulations, Standards and Other Legal Duties