Costa Mesa officials are about to accept the first two proposals for a deluge of applications to open cannabis retail stores.
A proposed shop window on Harbor Boulevard and one on Newport Boulevard, the streets where nearly two-thirds of the 65 proposed businesses would be located, will pass before the city’s Planning Commission on Monday. If they are approved there, as recommended by the municipal staff, they will go to the City Council.
Unlike Santa Ana (formerly the only city in Orange County that allowed cannabis shops), Costa Mesa has no limit on how many permits it can grant: Santa Ana has a maximum of 30.
Also, unlike its neighbor, which relegates pot shops to mostly remote industrial areas, Costa Mesa’s new commercial businesses can be opened on any plot of commercial area.
This will make it easier for customers to find cannabis stores that will eventually open in the city and could be a major investment in some dilapidated properties, said Jim Fitzpatrick, a member of the cannabis working group at the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce. and a land use consultant in nine of the pending applications in the city.
“A lot of these projects were like 50-year deferred maintenance properties that nothing would come of and revitalize them,” Fitzpatrick said.
Monday can be considered Cannabis Culture Club, on Newport Boulevard south of Wilson Street, and 420 Central, on Harbor Boulevard south of West Bay Street. Both would sell pre-packaged, edible cannabis flowers, extracts and related items, and would follow detailed regulations that prohibit on-site consumption and require customer identification checks and security plans that include a 24-hour on-call guard.
The city drafted its regulations to ensure stores are safe and discreet, Costa Mesa councilor Arlis Reynolds said, so there are no flashing neon signs or customers passing outside. The location of Harbor Boulevard is in the district she represents.
Some residents he has heard have fears about the kind of clientele cannabis stores can attract, he said, but “I think when people listen to all the different requirements and especially the security requirements, that relieves a lot of worries.”
As of Friday, only one objection, from a pharmacy manager near the Harbor Boulevard site, was included with the Planning Commission materials on the proposed stores. And Reynolds said he hasn’t heard too many comments for or against the new stores, but few residents may know that applications are moving forward.
He encouraged potential store operators to contact the neighborhood before it’s time for a hearing on their permit application, he said. “I think what no one wants is to be surprised and worried when it’s too late to provide important information about possible negative impacts.”
One of the reasons why people don’t remember that cannabis shops will come is that almost two years ago Costa Mesa voters approved the electoral measure that allowed the shops and set a range of how many taxes the city can charge. in sales (currently 7%). ).
Even if the city grants the first permits soon, homeowners could take months to build their shop windows and open their doors, but that doesn’t mean the money isn’t coming from cannabis anymore.
Fitzpatrick said employers have paid tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in application fees in the city and had to secure a location even to apply for them, so some pay rent in an empty space.
He would like to see the city speed up the process, but Reynolds said several planning staff have already been dedicated to cannabis documentation and that the city is also busy with housing plans at the moment.
While more than five dozen stores may seem too good, Reynolds and Fitzpatrick said the market is expected to settle. Some applicants may see their funding run out before they cross the finish line, and if there are too many stores open in the same area, some will probably not last.
“I think because of the combination of market forces, the pure economy of the deal, not everyone will open up, and the best operator will win,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m., Monday, June 13 in the boardroom of Costa Mesa City Council, 77 Fair Drive. Meetings are also streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel.