Emeryville City Council met for a Special Meeting on November 21st with significant developments including issuing the city’s first use permits for cannabis dispensaries. The meeting also saw the appointment of Councilmember John Bauters to a one year term as Mayor.
Resolution Authorizing Cannabis Dispensary/Retail permit for a storefront dispensary
The primary agenda item was the issuance of the City’s first permits for a cannabis ‘storefront’ dispensary. The process started after the passage of Proposition 64 during the 2016 state elections which allows California residents over the age of 21 to use marijuana recreationally.
On April 4, 2017, the City Council adopted the final reading of two ordinances to establish a local regulatory framework that would allow for commercial cannabis within the City. Ordinance No. 17-002 amended the City’s Planning Regulations to allow for all commercial cannabis activity, except commercial cultivation, subject to a conditional use permit from the City’s Planning Commission. The ordinance became effective on May 4, 2017.
Ordinance No. 17-003 repealed and replaced Chapter 28 of Title 5 of the Emeryville Municipal Code, and requires all commercial cannabis businesses to obtain an Operator’s Permit prior to commencing operation. This ordinance became effective September 1, 2017. The ordinance provides that Operator’s Permits for dispensary/retail businesses will issue pursuant to regulations adopted via resolution of the City Council. On September 5, 2017, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 17-135 establishing those regulations.
Also on September 5, 2017, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 17-136, authorizing the City Manager to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) related to issuing one Operator’s Permit for a storefront dispensary/retail business. The RFQ identified several goals to be achieved through deeming a business qualified to hold an Operator’s permit for a storefront dispensary/retail business. Of the interested companies that submitted responses to the City’s RFQ, several were deemed acceptable after tallying the scores. The scoring metric incorporated various criteria including local benefits, uniqueness of the business model and security capabilities.
Council reviewed the top applications and expressed appreciation for the work that was put into the process, including from Councilmember Martinez, who helped spearhead the effort. Several members of the community attended the meeting to voice their support for various applicants, with East Bay Therapeutics and Rochambeau getting multiple endorsements.
Attendee Sherac Patel expressed his personal endorsement of East Bay Therapeutics:
“Give the impact on the war on drugs on minority communities and Marijuana prohibition was felt heaviest in minority communities, I would advocate for the council to strongly consider the social equity component proposed by the groups applying and if Emeryville values the social equity component the permit should be awarded to a local firm with an established social equity component such as East Bay Therapeutics.“
Kirsten Macdonald, CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce voiced her personal support for Rochambeau:
“I felt strongly that I wanted to come here and state for the record Berkeley Patients Group [Rochambeau] truly invest in their cities that they are located in because they have long-term goals for that city and they plan to stay there for a very long time and they contribute to things on a macro level.”
Several Adeline Place residents expressed opposition to a dispensary in the ground floor retail of their building at 3801 San Pablo Avenue noting the presence of families, lack of parking and security issues related to the presence of nearby homeless encampments. They also noted the impact of the presence of a dispensary on homeowners insurance. Assistant City Attorney Andrea Visveshwara stepped in to remind Council that approval of the permit was not necessarily tied to a specific location in the city.
After hearing from the applicants and the public, the Council discussed and weighed what they each were looking for and which they thought could balance the many public concerns that comes with running a dispensary. Councilmember Bauters touched on this with his comments:
“I took a particular interest in this piece of the application and the council weighted it three times of all the other questions for a reason, so whoever is selected… I will be interested to see how closely you fulfill those promises you made in those because the community needs to benefit from you operating here.”
The Council voted 4-1 to give Rochambeau the first permit, with Council member Patz the lone dissenting vote. In addition, Mayor Donahue pushed for a second permit to be approved for East Bay Therapeutics, which was approved 3-1-1 with Councilmember Martinez abstaining and Councilmember Bauters dissenting. Rochambeau/Berkeley Patients Group’s proposed site is at the Andante Apartments on San Pablo Avenue and COO Sean Luse noted that they have already procured a lease at the space and the support of the HOA.
It was also stressed by Councilmember Martinez and Bauters that this is still the beginning and they will continue to look at the Cannabis business moving forward, including possibly issues equity permits to other businesses that want to enter the business space in Emeryville.
Next steps for the two businesses selected will be to get the required use permit (Planning Commission), Operating Permit (Police Department) and Business License (Finance Dept.). Once all the applicable permits have been obtained the City will work to find suitable locations for the businesses to set up shop. This has been a popular topic for municipalities throughout California as they look to strike a balance between fostering these businesses and listening to some public concern over safety.
In addition, the City will continue to evaluate the appropriate tax regulations that will apply to these businesses as Oakland did last week. The operating permits will need to be renewed annually to ensure applicants are upholding community standards.
Additional impacts of Proposition 64 that will need to be addressed include the allowance of residents to grow up to six plants at their home for personal use and the issuance of non-sales permits for uses including cannabis research & development and manufacturing.
View the Entire Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 1:28:30.
Study Session: Sherwin-Williams Public Park and Open Space Final Development Plan
On January 5, 2017, the applicant Lennar Multifamily submitted two Final Development Plan (FDP) applications for the project, one for the new buildings, and one for the parks and open space. FDPs are approved by the Planning Commission and are not considered by the City Council unless they are appealed. However, because the parks and open space FDP will create a City park, staff is seeking Council’s comments prior to Planning Commission consideration of approval. Planning Commission review is scheduled for the December 14, 2017 Planning Commission meeting.
The Planning Commission held a third study session in October and was generally pleased with the overall design and details, including the programming and diversity of spaces, tree and plant palette, proposed sculptures, furniture, play structures, pollinator garden, and placement of the public rest room. A majority of the Commission requested that the “sport court” be redesigned as a full basketball court rather than a half court.
Other requests from the Commission included an opening in the fence along the railroad tracks so that park users can see the trains passing by, more color variation in the concrete, a greater diversity of plant selection in some of the “districts”, and making the sidewalks along 46th Street as wide as possible. The Commission supported the placement of the applicant’s public art sculpture in the City park, which will require an agreement with the City for maintenance by the applicant, provided that the City Council agrees.
Overall the Council approved of the final design plan and did not have major issues with the aesthetics or included elements. Several council members agreed that a full basketball court could be beneficial given the other three public courts are all half court. In addition, there was general approval of a private sculpture being included if the City had the opportunity to select the piece and come to an agreement with the private group or individual where as the maintenance would not be paid for by the City. Lastly the Council asked staff to provide additional information on the question of a park fee credit which the applicant is looking to receive. The next steps for include a scheduled Planning Commission public hearing on December 14, 2017.
View the Entire Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 01:10.
Councilmember Bauters appointed to one year term as Mayor
A resolution was proposed and unanimously approved appointing serving Vice Mayor John Bauters to a one year term as Mayor succeeding Councilmember Scott Donahue. Councilmember Ally Medina was appointed Vice Mayor. Both will serve in their roles for one year as the City Council annually selects a Mayor and Vice Mayor from among themselves. Bauters served his first year on council as Vice Mayor which is generally a precursor to serving as Mayor.
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 2:34:46