HAYWARD — Marijuana businesses may be able to start scouting for new opportunities in Hayward soon.

The Hayward City Council has unanimously approved a package of new land use regulations that paves the way for most marijuana businesses to open up shop in the city’s industrial parks or select commercial areas. The new laws will become effective immediately if adopted at the Oct. 30 council meeting.

The businesses include cultivation facilities, retail dispensaries, distribution facilities, manufacturing sites and testing laboratories.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]Cultivation facilities, manufacturers and testing laboratories would be largely confined to the city’s industrial areas.

Potential dispensary sites would be limited to select commercial areas, including downtown Hayward, Fairway Park shopping center, Winton Plaza, the Bonfare Market shopping plaza in the Hayward Highlands and the Eden Shores shopping center along Industrial Boulevard. Delivery businesses could operate in the city’s industrial parks and some areas that allow dispensaries, but not in most downtown areas.

Though proposed laws do not limit the number of marijuana businesses, those seeking to open would need to submit a proposal for city staff and an outside consultant, ICF Resources, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to review, city planner Jeremy Lochirco said at the Oct. 17 council meeting. ICF Resources helped San Leandro vet applications for its three medical marijuana dispensary permits.

“The request for proposals process gives the council a lot of latitude because we could get 20 proposals, and when the consultant reviews them, they could recommend that none of them present the benefits that the council is looking for,” City Manager Kelly McAdoo said.

“The council could then weigh in and say, ‘We’re not happy with any of these,’ and send folks back to the drawing board,” she said.

Marijuana businesses must adhere to a number of guidelines, such as a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries and a 600-foot distance from schools, day care centers, youth or recreation centers, parks, libraries and designated open space.

The city’s planning commission could reduce the required buffer from public parks and open space areas in certain cases.

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“I think, given all of the regulatory components of this ordinance, we’re covering every possible base and making it really, really difficult, quite frankly, for people to screw up in our community,” Councilwoman Elisa Marquez said at the meeting.

“I think we’re on the right track, and we’ll be closely monitoring this; it is nuanced and a bit challenging because it’s something we’re not used to, but I think we’re covering all our bases. With the support and recommendations from our police department and having those buffers, I think we’re off to a good start,” she said.

Some city leaders said tighter restrictions are needed to prevent dispensaries and delivery businesses from opening too close to residences.

“I think what you’re hearing here is our attempt to try and make this work in a way that works for people who very legitimately want to use this product but not have the areas where this is sold generate some of the problems that we have seen with these other types of businesses (liquor stores and tobacco retailers),” Mayor Barbara Halliday said.

The council, in its approval of the proposed regulations, included a few caveats, such as prohibiting all marijuana businesses from opening along certain parts of Mission Boulevard, near the South Hayward BART station and other residential areas mixed in with commercial businesses. The number of dispensaries would be capped at three.

“This is our first foray into this … so this is a fairly minor change that I hope will separate these uses from residential neighborhoods; if we allow (marijuana businesses) there, we will hear about it, and it’s going to be a problem,” Councilman Al Mendall said.

The council also agreed that any marijuana businesses submitting proposals to the city and its consultant should secure labor agreements, create a plan to educate youth on marijuana use and have operating hours that are similar to liquor stores.

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