The Hanford City Council voted not to approve two additional storefront pot dispensaries, opting instead to revisit the issue each January. The vote was 5-0.
But first on the agenda was reorganization.
Council Member Art Brieno started off the process by thanking Mayor Sue Sorensen for a great job and bringing the council together. He then nominated Council Member John Draxler for mayor. There were no other nominations and the vote was 5-0 in favor.
Former Mayor Sorensen said that at times she wondered why she wanted to be mayor but that she had many more enjoyable moments than not. She added that it was an exceptional year and that the council was respectful and worked well together. “I hope it can continue in the future because it is better for the city when we all get along.”
Draxler said he had some big shoes to fill and thanked Sorensen for her work.
Brieno then nominated Council Member Francisco Ramirez for Vice Mayor and the vote was 5-0.
In other business, the city council considered adding two more store front recreational pot dispensaries because no one applied for the two delivery-only permits.
The staff recommended to not increase the number of cannabis business permits for the time being. Darlene Mata, Hanford Community Development Director, suggested that the council revisit the issue once a year when it could evaluate the success and tax revenues of the two currently permitted dispensaries.
Mata said that Hanford’s population was projected to grow to 75,000 in 10 years and that right now the city is not in need of four pot dispensaries. Hanford is currently at 58,000 and the recommended number of dispensaries is one for every 25,000 residents. She also suggested that the city keep the same ranking for the six retail pot applicants for 24 months, easing the process for the future.
The next two companies that came in third and fourth on the list of applicants were, in order, Herb and Joy and Elemental Wellness.
Brieno asked Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever for his input. Sever agreed with Mata about a yearly review and said that Caliva will be opening in February or March whereas Harvest of Hanford will be building from the ground up and might be open at the end of next year.
Mata said that Harvest will be on an aggressive construction schedule by employing some prefab elements into its building and will be open earlier than projected.
Mayor Draxler opened the floor for discussion and the third and fourth ranked applicants appealed to the city council to allow two more dispensaries.
Dwight Wilson from Herb and Joy said that because Hanford was going to have to wait a year for Harvest to open it should award his company a permit because his facility would be up and running quickly.
Devon Julian from Elemental Wellness pointed out that the population served will actually be 150,000 throughout Kings County and not just Hanford when taking into consideration the delivery aspect.
“This would drive tax revenue from the entire county directly to Hanford.” Because of Elemental’s vast experience in delivery, Julian said, “We could service all of the area surrounding Hanford with ease.”
“Delivery is a major part of our business in San Jose at 20%+ of total revenue. We are delivery experts having the fleet, software, security, and customer service all figured out and proven in the Bay Area.”
Concerning the recommendation of one dispensary per 25,000 residents, Julian pointed out that Grover Beach has 4 permits at a ratio of 1 permit per 3,407 residents and that all the cannabis businesses are thriving. Julian also cited Placerville, Marina, Lake Tahoe, and Morro Bay as having ratios of 1 per 3,645 – 5,318 residents.
Because the council was leaning towards not approving two more storefront dispensaries, Julian asked the council to consider Elemental for the delivery only permit. Draxler directed Julian to contact staff about the proposal.
Council Member Martin Devine agreed with the cautious approach but wanted an update sooner and suggested the staff get back to the council in six months on how well Caliva was doing.
Sorenson also agreed with taking it slower and suggested the council consider locations for dispensaries other than downtown.
Mata said her staff would plan on doing a review of Caliva in June of 2020.