Mayor Miller and Alonso Ledezma outvoted
■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
In what came down to a 3-2 vote, San Jacinto City Council approved eight indoor and eight outdoor Commercial Marijuana Cultivation (COMC) regulatory permits for cultivators interested in the city’s development territories.
At the previous City Council meeting on Sept. 5, Councilman Russ Utz requested that City Manager Rob Johnson return to Council with a report of the current COMC regulatory permit activity, and possibly recommend adjustments to increase the number of indoor and outdoor COMC regulatory permits within city limits.
“I would really like to know between the time we said three and three was good, and now, what has changed,” Mayor Scott Miller outlined, as he opened the Council for discussion.
The city currently has conditionally approved three indoor COMC, and three outdoor COMC regulatory permits (with two pending). Each applicant is also in the process of working with the city on the Land Use Development Application for each project.
Applicants like Wayne Magnilia, Richard Wesselink, Micah Anderson, and potential cultivator representatives from GB Sciences, DigiPath Labs, Southern California Chamber of Commerce (SC4), and Seed to Soul Farms made presentations – some suggesting dispensary options – at the special cannabis workshop held the night before on Sept. 18.
Certain council members, namely Mayor Pro Tem Alonso Ledezma, had some choice words about the increase in permit allowances.
“The original idea was to try to see where we could go with those three [indoor and three outdoor], and if that was enough,” said Ledezma, expressing that the decision to add more permits makes the Council sound like they are collectively unsure of themselves. “I need to see what kind of revenue these three are making, before I can say yes to eight.”
City Council members Andrew Kotyuk, Russ Utz and Crystal Ruiz ultimately voted yes, while Miller and Ledezma voted against it. After the votes were tallied, Ledezma reportedly stormed out of the chambers while council was still in session.
San Jacinto has received two additional outdoor COMC regulatory permits, but has not yet collected each fee of $16,500.
The city specifically strategized to limit permit activity in order to get quality applicants, while also being able to monitor and assist those products. When the indoor and outdoor COMC ordinances were approved, Johnson determined that a minimum of some $2,710,200 could be realized in revenue to the city through taxation of the cultivation areas per permit issuance.
The increase in the number of permits that the city will allow may have effects like having the ability to collect $16,500 per permit application to offset processing costs and the ability to approve or deny the application, or the city being able to realize additional revenue in taxation of each COMC regulatory permit for each successful development application of indoor ($250,025 per 10,001 sq.ft.) or outdoor cultivation ($653,400 per acre).
So when can San Jacinto expect to see these cultivators open for business?
“The City has 10 days to respond to applications, then if the project is conditionally approved, it goes back to the developers to make land use applications for approval,” explained Johnson. “Then those projects can begin construction. That process typically takes about six months.”