Digging Deeper

Let’s dig a little deeper regarding our previous post.

According to the November 17 Staff Report, “Staff recommends that the City Council consider the second “RFP” process after receiving tax data/reports following a 6-month operational/finance reporting period. This would allow the City Council to not only determine the fiscal benefits of authorizing a second commercial cannabis business to operate in the City, but also provide adequate time to evaluate any community-wide benefits or impacts associated with the use. Staff anticipates being able to report back to the City Council in Fall 2022 regarding any potential impacts and would return to the City Council for direction on the timing of the release of the RFP, ostensibly prior to the end of the calendar year.

So, according to Staff, the RFP will not go out after six months from sparc’s opening (likely in August, 2022). Rather, Staff won’t even report to the council until roughly a year from now. Then perhaps an RFP will be issued before the end of the year. And, if the RFP is finally issued, it will be another year of process and permits. There will likely be no second retail outlet for another two years from now, if at all.

Given the history of the city council on this issue over the past five years, we are very dubious of its stated intent to move forward in the fall. There is a lot to the story.

As we reported in the previous post, on September 8, Erich Pearson of sparc asked the Sonoma City Council to place what in essence is a de facto moratorium of one year on any new dispensary. Though the city council did not give Staff the direction to do so, it made a recommendation to that effect on November 17.

There is little doubt that Mr. Pearson and his lobbyist, Amy Jenkins, have been working to influence the city council on this matter.

Meanwhile, leading up to the November 17 meeting, a huge postcard campaign was mounted by the 200+ members of SVCG in support of moving the second dispensary process forward without further delay. Over 160 individual cards were sent by US mail, over 40 to each of the four sitting city council members. Though this most likely was the biggest campaign of its kind in the history of the city council, no member even acknowledged it.

We were blindsided by the sudden, unforeseen recommendation from Staff to postpone the process. It was inserted into the Agenda at the direction of someone behind closed doors. None of this may be illegal, but appearance is everything.

We have made a Public Records Act request for all documents and communications regarding the second dispensary.

We have a number of questions we’ll explore in upcoming posts. Stay tuned…


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