This is a brief update regarding efforts to establish a new Commercial Cannabis Opt-Out Ordinance.
The Planning Commission wrapped up the 2nd Public Workshop focused on a new Cannabis Opt-Out Ordinance Thursday night at around 11 PM again. Attendance, both in person and via zoom, was lighter than in the first Workshop. Even with the lighter attendance, the room was almost full and there were over 20 people on Zoom. This is clearly a subject of high importance to many in Trinity County.
While there are still many aspects of this issue on which parties disagree, there seemed to be more common ground being found in this session. The Commission was able to finish this part of the process which focused on answering specific questions put forward by the consultant and staff who have been tasked with preparing a new ordinance to address Opt-Outs. The next step is for the consultant and staff to work with this input and draft an ordinance for review at the Commission’s next regular meeting which will take place in April.
There is a sense of urgency regarding this matter. This new ordinance must be blessed by the Planning Commission before it comes before the Board of Supervisors. Once approved by the Board of Supervisors, there is a 30 day waiting period before it takes effect. With that in mind, if the new ordinance is approved by the Planning Commission in April, and if it is approved by the Board of Supervisors in May… the ordinance would then become effective in June. The temporary Rush Creek Opt-Out Ordinance in Lewiston expires in July.
Here are some of my key takeaways from the guidance provided by Commissioners:
- Opt-Outs should not have established expiration dates – and should be replaced by a new/updated General Plan;
- There should be a mechanism for Opt-Outs to be modified via community-driven efforts;
- Licensees in good standing within Opt-Out areas should:
- be grandfathered in – allowing them to continue operating (no sunsetting of licenses);
- be able to make minor modifications to operations – things like small buildings for drying, adding water tanks, a parking lot etc. Modifications couldn’t be significant enough that they’d require a new EIR.
- expect limitations on expansion of operations (no expansion of cultivation of footprint, no stacking);
- be able to transfer their license to a new owner, or to a new property outside of the Opt-Out area;
- not be able to transfer their license to a new property within the Opt-Out area;
- be held to the same standards (regarding rules/violations) as licensees outside of Opt-Out areas;
- expect that requests for additional license types will be handled on a case by case basis;
- Water-related issues should be part of the criteria used in establishing/reviewing new Opt-Out areas;
- County Staff has been asked to work on:
- proposed criteria for violations that would result in license revocation (vs. simply requiring resolution);
- recommendations for enhancements to the County’s outreach efforts regarding license approvals.
The Planning Commission hopes to meet on April 7th to review a proposed ordinance addressing Cannabis Retail Operations. The Commission plans to review the new/proposed cannabis opt-out ordinance in a meeting scheduled on April 14th.
Trinity County’s new Director for the Cannabis Division was introduced during this meeting.
Sean Connell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Trinity County. You can learn more about him via this link to his LinkedIn profile.
Here are some other resources that you might find useful if you want to learn more about this subject:
- Here is a link to the article published in the Trinity Journal regarding the first Public Workshop.
- Here is a link to the 5 hour-long video of the 2nd Public Workshop described above.
- Here is a link to the 5 hour-long video of the 1st Public Workshop.
I think it is great to see such a high level of community engagement regarding something that is obviously quite important to the future of our County. I hope that updates like these help you to feel more informed.