A new cannabis ordinance is ready for Tracy City Council review after the city’s planning commission endorsed the new local regulations on a 4-0-1 vote.
All four commissioners at Wednesday meeting — commission chairman Joseph Orcutt was absent — agreed that the local law provides reasonable regulation to a fledgling industry.
The ordinance, which must get final approval from the Tracy City Council, would create a new section of the Tracy Municipal Code.
The city’s assistant director of development services, Bill Dean, explained to the commission that the ordinance will help integrate retail cannabis dispensaries and commercial cannabis production facilities into the city’s business mix, rather than isolate them.
“It won’t be a concentrated zoning effort with respect to where it’s allowed,” Dean told the commission. “It’s allowed where industrial is allowed, it’s allowed where retail is allowed. It’s very dispersed.”
The ordinance prohibits all outdoor cannabis gardens in Tracy regardless of whether the individual or business owner can get a state license for outdoor cultivation.
The ordinance requires that anyone proposing a cannabis business first obtain a city permit for producing or selling cannabis in addition to any required state permits. That part of the process would be taken on by the police department, with the application review process to include background checks of business operators and employees.
All storefronts and production facilities would require a conditional use permit, which would undergo planning commission review. Businesses must also identify at least one person responsible for community relations, including contact with city officials and with neighbors.
The ordinance sets a 600-foot buffer between any cannabis business and any school, day care center or youth center. Smoking and any other type of cannabis use would be prohibited at retail businesses and within 20 feet of them.
The city will also set a limit of four retail dispensaries in town but set no maximum for other types of businesses — such as testing labs, indoor cultivation or delivery businesses — that wouldn’t see customer traffic or be open to the public.
Zach Drivon, a Stockton attorney specializing in commercial cannabis policy, urged the commission to endorse the new law.
“This is an opportunity for the city and industry members in the city to take advantage of this profound opportunity to participate in this multibillion-dollar industry here in the state of California, which is the largest cannabis market in the entire world,” Drivon told the commission.
“It’s a matter of when, not if, that we’re going to see a rescheduling or declassification of cannabis from the controlled substances act,” he added. “If you look at our agricultural infrastructure and our transportation infrastructure, this region and businesses that are established in this region have the opportunity to play a major role in the cannabis industry in California and nationwide.”
All four commissioners present endorsed the law. Commissioner Chad Wood said he didn’t endorse the use of cannabis, but he had a pleasant surprise when he had a chance to visit dispensaries and grow facilities in Santa Barbara last month during the annual conference of the California chapter of the American Planning Association.
“It was not what I expected at all. We went into the facility. It was well maintained, the security was there. It was like going into a high-priced jewelry store. When I went into the grow facility, it operated like any agriculture grow center that I’ve went into with a greenhouse,” he said.
“While I’m not in favor of the use of it, I understand this is the tier it’s now in. We’re in a position to at least regulate it.”
Also on Wednesday, the Tracy Planning Commission:
• Upheld revocation of a “home occupation” permit for Touch of Shine Detail, an auto detailing business that had been operating out of a home on Newport Court. The city’s code enforcement division noted that the business had been in violation of its permit to operate out of a home by having employees on site, washing cars, having customers drive to the location, and using vacuums and polishers that created noise in the neighborhood. Business owner Gabriel Hernandez was at the meeting to dispute the code enforcement divisions’ findings, but the commission upheld the code enforcement action on a 3-1-1 vote, with Wood dissenting and Orcutt absent.
• Approved a conditional use permit that will allow A Kids Place Preschool to convert a house on Wilbanks Lane into a preschool and day care center. Plans call for the redesign of the interior of the 3,829-square-foot house, which will no longer be used as a residence, and the addition of parking spaces. The remodeled building could accommodate up to 100 children, but business owner Maria Carina Diaz De Barajas must also apply for a license from the state Health and Human Services Agency, which will determine how many children can be there at any given time.
• Approved a 100-unit assisted living and memory care facility on 2.73 acres at the northwest corner of Corral Hollow Road and Alegre Drive. Summit Senior Life LLC plans a three-story building that will total 84,107 square feet of floor space. It will be built on the larger of two remaining vacant lots in the Grant Line Center on the southwest corner of Grant Line and Corral Hollow roads, which the city approved for development in 1987 and which also includes Chili’s and Western Dental Care.