Editor's note: There is a correction to a previous version of the story, which appears in the print edition. Mayor Nancy Young and councilmen Dan Arriola and Mateo Bedolla voted to continue the matter of buffers around cannabis businesses until December, while Mayor Pro Tem Eleassia Davis and Councilman Dan Evans dissented on the vote, supporting the planning commission recommendation. The Press regrets the error.

The Tracy City Council this week moved a bit closer to affirming city policies regarding cannabis businesses.

On the first of two votes Tuesday night, the council rejected a Tracy Planning Commission recommendation that would restrict cannabis businesses from opening in most parts of town. The commission voted on April 12 to establish 600-foot buffers around youth centers and in between cannabis businesses themselves, as well as 50-foot buffers between new cannabis businesses in residential areas. The commission also voted to expand the definition of youth centers that would require a 600-foot buffer from any new cannabis business.

The new rules would not apply to any of the 17 businesses that acquired city cannabis business permits when they were first issued in 2021 and 2022, but they would apply to anyone now seeking a new cannabis business permit.

The City Council ended up voting 3-2 to table the matter until the end of the year at the earliest.

Mayor Nancy Young, and councilman Dan Arriola and Mateo Bedolla agreed that the council’s priority should be to get the current cohort of businesses through the process. Mayor Pro Tem Eleassia Davis and Councilman Dan Evans voted to support the Planning Commission recommendation.

The first four cannabis business permits for Tracy were issued in June 2021 and are set to expire next month. The other permits were issued in March 2022, and also will expire after 2 years.

Opposition to the proposed rules was based primarily on frustration with the continued barriers and delays that these businesses have already endured.

“This industry is not only collapsing statewide, but after 3 long years hasn’t even begun in the city of Tracy. The 50-foot residential zone buffer specifically would block out almost all of the city and make it near to impossible to even have a location,” said Michaela Toscas, owner of Inspire Positive, a delivery-only business that has its city and state permits plus an approved conditional use permit and still awaits final approval of its community benefits plan and owner/employee background checks

“We have done everything on our side for the city of Tracy’s process and are yet not allowed to open. We need to focus on getting the businesses open with the regulations that were written 3 years ago and then we can address updates to the ordinance.”

The council majority supported that position.

“To me it comes down to fairness with our current applicants,” Arriola said. “They have been with us from the beginning and they have tried everything to meet every standard that we have set for them. I think that we have an obligation to work with them to see it through.”

Young added the council still had other policies to consider Tuesday regarding existing applicants.

“It is definitely premature, and it is not fair at all to the entire cannabis business community,” she said. “We should not address this before we’re finished with the first cohort. To have them remotely subject to whatever the next steps are is 100% completely unfair.”

On the second vote of the night the council considered introducing an ordinance, discussed at the April 18 meeting, that would establish the definition of “owners” as someone with an ownership interest of 20% or more, which would streamline the background check process. The city also wants to clean up language pertaining to how many retail storefronts can be allowed - one for every 10,000 residents -- modify a permit renewal process, and also extend existing cannabis business permits for another 6 months to allow those permit holders to complete the process and open their shops.

It was the latter issue that took up most of the council’s discussion, with the original four permits that were issued 2 years ago set to expire next month.

Representatives of Tracy Cannabis Collective, which seeks to open a dispensary at the corner of 10th and E Streets, told the council they would like to see the permits extended for a year, but also said that they are ready to open their shop as soon as the city clears their community benefits plan and background checks.

The council supported extending, or “tolling” the permits for another year, as opposed to the 6 months proposed, but City Attorney Bijal Patel informed the council that because of public noticing requirements the council couldn’t simply amend the proposed ordinance, which had already been put out for public review, and vote on it at the same meeting.

The council agreed that it would consider extending the permits until March 2024, which would give the original four permit-holders the same deadline as all of the other businesses that got their permits later.

The revised ordinance will be up for introduction at the council’s May 16 meeting.

• Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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(1) comment


That's some mighty serious and lengthy deliberating regarding cannabis outlets. I assume you will convene similarly rigorous debate regarding alcohol and tobacco ... two legalized controlled substances that exact a MUCH greater toll on the public good. To carefully regulate one and not the other makes you look like a collection of antiquated political hacks.

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