KING CITY — King City Council is moving forward with an ordinance that amends city code to allow commercial cannabis dispensaries within the city, following last Tuesday’s split vote during the council’s regular meeting.

In front of a packed house at City Hall on Feb. 11, the council voted 3-2 in favor of introducing the ordinance, going against the recommendation from the Planning Commission. Mayor Mike LeBarre sided with Council Members Robert Cullen and Carlos DeLeon, while Mayor Pro Tem Carlos Victoria and Council Member Darlene Acosta dissented from the majority.

Last September the council requested city staff to prepare information for discussion on allowing cannabis storefront dispensaries. The analysis was presented to council members at the Oct. 22 meeting, after which they directed staff to prepare an ordinance for consideration that would allow cannabis stores in certain areas of the city.

The draft ordinance was presented to the Planning Commission on Feb. 4, where members voted 4-0 to adopt a resolution recommending the council reject the ordinance.

Under the proposed ordinance, cannabis dispensaries would only be allowed in the following areas: the highway service area west of the freeway, excluding properties located on Canal Street; the C-2 general commercial zone; and the First Street corridor and highway service zoned areas on First Street, from Ellis Street to Highway 101.

“In order to prevent neighborhood concerns and complaints, the ordinance would prohibit dispensaries on any property directly adjacent to a residential structure,” according to a staff report from City Manager Steve Adams.

California state law also prohibits dispensaries from being located within 600 feet of schools and daycare facilities.

“This restricts a large portion of the city given that King City is a small community,” the report says.

The number of allowed dispensaries would be limited to two. This recommendation was based upon the city’s population size and limited police and code enforcement resources available to “properly monitor the dispensaries in order to ensure the health and safety of the City’s residents,” according to the report.

Many issues have been raised in regard to allowing cannabis stores in the city. 

“A number of residents have attended council meetings and spoken in favor of enabling a dispensary to locate in the community,” the report states. “The City has also received a number of written correspondences in opposition.”

The report lists several key pros and cons from past discussions.

Among the pros listed are: cannabis products would be more accessible for local residents who need them for medical purposes; has potential to generate much-needed revenue; helps support and promote local cultivation and manufacturing businesses; and could bring in business activity that creates jobs and customers. 

Among the cons listed are: potential for community opposition in response to concerns that dispensaries increase the accessibility and use of cannabis, particularly among youth; potential for theft since dispensaries typically use large volumes of cash due to federal legality issues; the process of regulating, selecting and issuing dispensary permits is complex, labor intensive, costly and increases liability to the City; and there is no guarantee the City will receive applicants, given the limited market area.

The council will further review the ordinance at its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m., at City Hall, 212 S. Vanderhurst Ave., when it will be under consideration for adoption. If approved, the ordinance would become effective March 26, with applications being accepted in early summer.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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