After multiple lengthy discussions on regulating retail cannabis businesses in Costa Mesa under Measure Q, passed by voters in November, the city’s planning commission on Monday recommended a draft ordinance that will soon go before the City Council for approval.
The ordinance attempts to regulate where dispensaries and marijuana delivery services may operate inside commercial zones, stipulating they would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of childcare centers, K-12 schools, playgrounds and homeless shelters, identified as “sensitive uses.”
Planning commissioners removed an explicit direction that retail marijuana sales and delivery may not take place within 600 feet of a youth center — locations where minors learn, study, congregate and socialize — choosing instead to defer to state laws that already imply as much.
Business owners must seek a conditional use permit to open storefronts or non-storefront delivery services which, under the new proposal, cannot open within 500 feet of another existing retail cannabis operation.
One exception would be businesses already processing, manufacturing or distributing cannabis in accordance with 2016 voter-approved Measure X. Should those enterprises wish to add non-storefront delivery to their list of services, permitted owners could seek a minor conditional use permit subject to approval by a director, the commissioners determined.
A proposal to deny applications from property owners or businesses that have conducted illegal cannabis operations in Costa Mesa in the past five years was shaved down Monday to 180 days with the added provision such operators reimburse historic costs incurred by the city in seeking punitive actions.
“If an illegal cannabis dispensary is replaced by a legal cannabis dispensary, it seems like, irrespective of how long the illegal dispensary has been there, what we’re trying to achieve,” said Commissioner John Stephens.
Published: March 24, 2021
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