OAKLAND — Cannabis businesses, under a new city ordinance, won’t be able to get permits in Oakland if they displace people from their homes.
The amendment to the city’s cannabis permitting ordinance was passed unanimously at a special council meeting Thursday. Though it has to undergo a second reading at the March 20 council meeting before fully passing, it restricts permits from being issued to businesses that operate out of spaces where people lived as of March 6.
The legislation came after residents and business owners at The Oakland Cannery, a live/work space in East Oakland, urged city officials to protect their spaces after a cannabis business purchased the building and expressed intentions to turn it into a commercial cannabis facility.
“Profits do not require displacing people from their homes; there’s plenty of other non-residential space available for cannabis investors,” said Cannery resident Rebecca Firestone at Thursday’s meeting. “There is another way, and that is for us to coexist peacefully together.”
Other Cannery residents and supporters spoke in support of the ordinance at the meeting Thursday, as well as members of the cannabis industry.
The ordinance allows for cannabis businesses to still obtain permits to operate on the same properties that contain residential units, so long as volatile manufacturing be done in a separate building on the parcel.
Though the ordinance applies to all residential spaces, it specifically addresses live/work spaces, many of which exist in the city’s “Green Zone” — where cannabis businesses are allowed to operate.
The ordinance was introduced by Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan and Mayor Libby Schaaf’s and the city administrator’s offices.
The mayor’s policy director for art spaces Kelley Kahn told the East Bay Times that the legislation aims to maintain the diversity that Oakland’s industrial economic sector is known for, and protect the “artists and makers” who also occupy industrial areas.
“The industrial land here in Oakland supports a diverse and robust economy,” Kahn said. “This is all about striking the right balance between two uses that are important to Oakland.”
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