The Riverbank City Council Chambers played host to a full house again with plenty of opposition from members of the public not wanting marijuana dispensaries in their city. All City council members were present for the Tuesday, Jan. 9 session including Mayor Richard D. O’Brien, Vice Mayor Leanne Jones Cruz, and council members Cindy Fosi, Darlene Barber-Martinez, and Cal Campbell. City Manager Sean Scully advised the council that there were no changes to the report as it was stated at the last public hearing.
With a vote of 5-0 the Riverbank City Council approved the Second Reading of the proposed ordinance for the development agreement between the City of Riverbank and Pacafi Cooperative, Inc., a California Cooperative Corporation that will be doing business as Flavors, which is a commercial cannabis dispensary.
At the Dec. 12 regular city council meeting several people came out to give their testimony; the majority was greatly in opposition but there were also a few comments that were in support of the dispensary. The City Council approved the first reading of the proposed ordinance.
Flavors will be located at 2213 Patterson Road; it is a 7,668 square foot building on a .76 acre parcel. The proposed site is zoned General Commercial. The dispensary cannot be within 600 feet of any school, day care facility or youth center.
The location has been cause for concern by many people that expressed their opinions during public comments, especially the people that manage Riverbank Martial Arts Academy which is in close proximity to the dispensary.
There were several concerned community members that expressed strong opposition for the commercial cannabis dispensary as well.
A citizen stated that the Karate school should be treated like a school and another citizen stated that this is not keeping with the plans for Riverbank to be safe and beautiful. A mother of three teenagers got a bit emotional explaining that she fights hard to keep her kids focused and making smart decisions and the dispensary would not be good. Riverbank resident Daryl Daniel asked the council how many cannabis businesses will be in Riverbank. Currently there are two proposed businesses, Flavors and the other is more of a medicinal type of business that will do business as Riverbank Cannabis Collective.
The public hearing for the Riverbank Cannabis Collective was also approved four to one with a ‘no’ vote from Fosi during the Tuesday evening City Council meeting.
Another citizen brought in a letter from Bill O’Brien opposing the location of the cannabis dispensary on Patterson Road.
The co-owner of Flavors spoke during public comments assuring the community that this dispensary will create a safe environment and will be a device to control the marijuana industry in the city by adhering to all the regulations. The permit can be pulled at any time for not following the regulations. He also stated that it is best that the local government make the decisions and not Governor Brown.
After the final public comment was made, the Mayor spoke and shared with the community that this has been a very frustrating and difficult process.
“We have many illegal grows right outside the city limits,” said O’Brien. “They are supplying contaminated marijuana to residents of Riverbank. There are 3800 of your residents using marijuana each year. They are getting it from dealers and pushers.”
California voted to approve Proposition 64 in 2016 which legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
“Every house here can now grow their own,” stated O’Brien. “Every household can grow up to six plants at a time. That is the law. We are regulating that but that is the law. We can’t stop it. It is a retail establishment in an area where retail is prominent. We looked at it very carefully.”
The dispensary will track their product with a lot number and sku. This way law enforcement will be able to find out where it was sold and possibly who sold it.
A regulatory structure for commercial cannabis was created in August and part of the structure established a commercial cannabis business must apply for a Development Agreement and conditional use permits. There will also be fees for the applicant, set performance standards with the city and set a timeline.
The dispensary will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week and will have approximately 30 employees. They will have a 24-hour security system along with security guards during business hours.
The funds gained will go into a security fund that has priorities like increasing the police force and establishing a code enforcement officer.
With approval of the second reading on Jan. 9, there will be a 30 day period before the business will be active. Scully explained that they still have internal tenant improvements to make to the building so this can extend that time frame along with a few other development agreement conditions.