Having received twice the applicants than anticipated for brick-and-mortar cannabis retail licenses in Redwood City, the council extended its contract with an agency tasked with developing its retail cannabis policy and now with sifting through applications.
The city has undergone a two-year process to permit storefront cannabis sales within city limits with support from the firm Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates. Despite the firm’s initial projections the city would receive about 12 applications through a Cannabis Business Permit Program, 28 were submitted, requiring additional support in reviewing the applications for completeness, weaknesses and strengths.
“All applications will be thoroughly reviewed by the city and HdL,” Assistant City Manager Alex Khojikian said in an email.
The total contract for HdL services will cost the city $722,677 including the contract amendment which called for an additional $105,000 on top of the $58,750 already approved for application review services. The city will be reimbursed for the cost of the amendment through the process application fees, said staff.
Councilmembers have previously expressed concerns the new shops could open in close succession or predominantly in underserved communities. To help slow the process, they suggested only the top applicants receive serious consideration.
In response, only the top 18 applicants scoring at least a 90% in the review process will be invited for interviews with a panel of city staff. Given the high number of applicants, the number of those eligible for an interview increased from 12 originally.
“The council has adopted a rigorous process to ensure that future cannabis businesses are an asset to the community. I understand we received many high-quality applications and I look forward to hearing more about the results of the selection process,” said Vice Mayor Giselle Hale.
As of Feb. 25, the city is no longer accepting applications for its Cannabis Business Permit Program. The 28 applications will now be reviewed by the city and HdL’s Cannabis Services team with the final selection of top applicants expected by July.
City Manager Melissa Stevenson-Diaz will make the final call for which applicants will receive permits using an eligibility list created by staff and the contractors, Khojikian said.
“The city manager’s decision will be based on the totality of the records, and an applicant’s numerical score alone will not necessarily determine the final results,” he added.
Once final selections have been made, Khojikian said the businesses could begin opening anywhere within eight to 12 months. Each would need to also apply for additional permits if necessary, pay applicable fees or complete state licensing requirements.
Various zoning districts would welcome the cannabis storefronts by right including neighborhood commercial, general commercial, mixed-use corridor, mixed-use waterfront and mixed-use neighborhood zoning districts. Stores smaller than 5,000 square feet would be permitted by right in the mixed-use transitional zoning district and stores smaller than 2,500 square feet would be permitted by right in the light industrial incubator zoning district.
The storefronts would also be conditionally welcomed in the industrial park and industrial restricted zoning districts only if the structures are 30,000 square feet or larger due to an existing general retail regulation within both districts.
On top of an annual permit renewal fee, each of the six cannabis store fronts will be required to pay $10,000 annually toward cannabis drug education for children. Each would also be buffered from other cannabis storefronts and from sensitive areas like parks and schools.
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