Commercial cultivation and the manufacture of marijuana — both medical and recreational — will be allowed in Baldwin Park, city leaders decided.
At a special meeting Thursday, the City Council voted 4-1 to preliminarily approve an ordinance which allows that specific pot-related activity in the city’s industrial areas. The move — which must be reaffirmed with a second vote — reverses a 2015 decision banning cannabis cultivation.
City officials estimated the measure could generate up to $4.95 million in revenue for Baldwin Park, which has a general fund of about $27.6 million, and create hundreds of jobs, according to a staff report.
“A lot of times, we’re just barely in the black,” said Councilman Ricardo Pacheco, referring to the city’s budget. “With this, I think we’ll be able to do a lot more.”
Under the ordinance, cultivation and manufacturing facilities would not exceed 22,000 square feet and could not be located within 600 feet of a school, day care center or youth center or within 50 feet of a residential zone.
Additionally, all cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis must be conducted indoors in enclosed structures equipped with security cameras and alarm systems.
“You’re not going to be able to smell it,” said interim police Chief Mike Taylor, who voiced support for the ordinance. “You wouldn’t know it was there unless you knew it was there.”
Taylor added that the businesses would have 24-hour surveillance video streamed live to the police department.
The ordinance would not allow the sale of cannabis products in the city. Medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries continue to be prohibited in the city.
Councilwoman Monica Garcia, who cast the sole no vote, said that while she sees the benefits of allowing cannabis cultivation in the city, she did not have a good sense of how residents felt about it.
“Where is the community on this?” Garcia asked, adding that community members to whom she’s spoken were either not aware the council was considering the ordinance or could not attend community meetings and workshops on the issue. “I would really like to see us touch as many households in Baldwin Park as possible.”
Just under 100 people attended community meetings in June and July, according to the staff report. Ten members of the public attended the council’s meeting Thursday and only three offered comments during the public hearing.
Local business owner Greg Tuttle, who often criticizes Garcia and other council members, joked this was the one time he agreed with the councilwoman, saying he felt like the city was rushing through the process.
“This isn’t our responsibility to hurry up and make these guys get their permits,” Tuttle said.
City officials explained it was important to get the law on the books now and begin the process of issuing permits to businesses so that they could be first in line to get the required state licenses when the state begins issuing them Jan. 1.
Businesses that do not have local permits and are not operating by then may have to wait 12 to 24 months before getting a state license, according to the staff report.
City Attorney Robert Tafoya said his office and city staff have been working on the ordinance and engaging the community on the issue for more than a year.
“My office personally reviewed (ordinances for) every city that allows cannabis to make sure that we get the best ordinance we can,” Tafoya said, adding that the only “rush” was to reduce the time between a first and second reading of the ordinance, which is scheduled for the council’s regular meeting this coming Wednesday.
“It really was vetted very, very thoroughly,” Tafoya said.
Each applicant for a city permit to open a cultivation or manufacturing business in the city would need to enter into a development agreement with the city prior to being issued a permit to operate. Tafoya said he expected businesses to be up and running in three months.
“Many times, Baldwin Park kind of misses the boat. We always tend to be a little slow and watch other cities take advantage of these economic opportunities,” Pacheco said. “Hopefully ‘we’ll be one of the first cities to look at this and move forward.”
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