Benicia cannabis compromise explained in detail

Mary Amey (writing as Manoa Kahalaopuna) has paid close attention to the cannabis controversy in Benicia, posting regularly and in detail on Benicia Nextdoor.  This review (and a second comment far below) is helpful…  

On the June 18 Benicia City Council cannabis decision

By Mary Amey (Manoa Kahalaopuna), Nextdoor

So to explain specifically what happened (there was a lot of back and forth and there was a last minute pivot on the motion to secure Campbell’s vote)…

The motion that passed last night approved ALL of Largaespada’s proposed buffers from the May 7th meeting (600′ around childcare center, youth center, learning center, residential, park – which would ban all appropriately zoned properties), but with the caveat that the the motion would apply to any future dispensary applicants and the existing 9 applicants would be grandfathered in and be allowed to proceed forward under the existing rules that were in place when they applied.

Also, the Council will be allowing 1 retail cannabis license (down from the original 2).

Next step will be the 2nd reading of the ordinance change. Per the Staff Report presented last night, this will occur on July 2nd. So mark your calendars and spread the word! We’ll need as much live in-person support as possible!

It was incredibly frustrating last night is that Largaespada continued to spew misinformation about his buffer zone change claiming all cities have these buffer zones, after I very specifically corrected the record on that item during my statement. His residential buffer zone of 600 feet is the most aggressive buffer zone for residential zones in the Bay Area (and only 2 Bay Area cities with operating dispensaries have such an aggressive residential buffer zone).

And Largaespada showed his true colors by voting against the very buffer zones HE proposed in the first place (just with a compromise to avoid lawsuit). It’s clear he just wants a ban under the guise of him “protecting the people.”

The buffer zones are totally disappointing, but I can accept major compromises needed to be made to prevent an outright ban. And the 9 applications can proceed forward under the old rules for the 1 retail cannabis license, which is a good thing!

[…and a second comment in a later Nextdoor post by Manoa Kahalaopuna…]

There was a lot of discussion regarding clarifying the definition of “schools” in the City Code and adding a 500-600 foot buffer around city public parks. But the Council pivoted at the very last second and modified the motion *right* before the final vote to garner Campbell’s vote because he said he wanted all the buffers (it happened so fast that I missed it last night and had to rewatch the motion this morning after the video was posted online to fully understand the specifics of the motion that was passed).

The motion that was approved was to amend the zoning code to include “all the buffers around the list that we had on the request” (i.e. Largaespada’s full buffer zone list) and “all the applicants would go forward with the hearing process” (i.e. grandfathering existing applicants), and it was further clarified that the new buffers would apply to all future applicants (not existing applicants).

Video below – Fast forward to 4:18.