City scraps plans for marijuana stores

With legalization, cannabis has become a big busi- ness, and new marijuana shops often look like Apple stores, with natural light, spacious displays and open floor plans. That’s the look of the Eco Cannabis store at 2435 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. It opened in March.

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Mountain View City Council on Thursday (May 23) scrapped a plan to allow two retail marijuana stores and two delivery services to open in town, instead deciding to allow three delivery businesses, to cheering from a crowd of concerned, largely Chinese parents waving signs opposing marijuana.

The council initially decided in October to allow two retail stores and two delivery businesses to open, and in February received 10 applications from entrepreneurs.

But by then, two pot-friendly council members, Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter, had been voted out of office and a third, Ken Rosenberg, had stepped down.

In their place were elected council members Lucas Ramirez, Ellen Kamei and Alison Hicks. Kamei and Hicks in particular, like Mayor Lisa Matichak and Vice Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga, have proved to have a more conservative take on the marijuana debate.

Home delivery allowed

The council voted unanimously last night to allow three delivery businesses in town at least 600 feet from a school or child care center, or 250 feet if they’re on the other side of highways 101, 237 or 85, or Central Expressway.

No two businesses can open within 600 feet of each other.

The decision will leave a number of marijuana entrepreneurs in the lurch, though council said they would reopen the application process and give priority to the two delivery businesses that had already applied, Grown and Caliva.

Although 10 entrepreneurs applied back in February, only four of the applications were considered to be complete and qualified, city officials said Thursday.

Some of the applicants didn’t include items like an appropriate site plan, floor plan or adequate lease documents.

An attorney for CB Coastal, a group that wanted to open a pot store at 298 Castro St., appeared before council last night to challenge the city’s rejection of his application for not listing all of the owners.
“Many new corporations, CB Coastal included, do not issue all of their shares when they’re first incorporated,” the lawyer argued.

And the proprietor behind BLVD Dispensary, which wanted to open at the Moffett Plaza shopping center, objected to the city rejecting his application because he mistakenly wrote down the address of the Moffett Mobile Home Park, which is next door and is owned by the same landlord.

No sympathy for mistakes on applications

Vice Mayor Abe-Koga said later in the meeting that she didn’t have “sympathy” for businesses that don’t get their address correct or can’t identify their shareholders.

“If they get 89.4%, they don’t get the A. They get the B. If you don’t know what your address is, or you didn’t double-check the paperwork … that’s a problem for me,” Abe-Koga said. “I still feel like it is a federally illegal business. There’s a lot of vagueness to this, and so I guess to be honest, I’m going to be stricter with this business than a day care center, frankly.”

Before the council ended up abandoning the retail store idea, councilmen Ramirez and Chris Clark advocated for allowing the previous applicants to reapply and find new sites.

But the point is moot now that retail pot stores have been banned, to the delight of a large population that has testified passionately at meetings over the last several months.

Parents speak out

Dozens of members of the public, most of them Chinese parents from Mountain View along with some from Sunnyvale and Milpitas, spoke fervently against marijuana, claiming the stores would tempt children into trying drugs, damage the city’s reputation and increase the risk of DUI.

At one point, Mayor Matichak chided some members of the public for jeering as the council questioned cannabis lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai about what he saw as the benefits of retail pot stores.
One woman mentioned karma to the council and said that “no one” wants to lose a loved one to a car crash caused by an intoxicated driver.

Opium Wars

Another speaker related marijuana to opium, relaying her father’s memory of his great-grandfather “lying there all day, couldn’t do anything” as an addict during the Opium Wars in China.

“The consequence is that China just got weakened and foreign countries invaded China at that time,” the woman said. “So for us here in the U.S., for our kids, they are the future of our country. We want them to have strong minds. We want them to have good health.”

The anecdote likely felt like vindication for former Mayor Siegel, who has previously said that he understood the memory of the Opium Wars to be a likely factor in the fierce opposition among the Chinese residents who have been speaking out at meetings.

Vice Mayor Abe-Koga, a political opponent of Siegel’s, criticized that statement by Siegel in March as culturally insensitive, though Siegel went on to criticize her for admittedly not knowing the history of the Opium Wars.

Former mayor defends marijuana use

Siegel attended last night’s meeting to advocate for the council’s original plan of allowing pot stores, disputing the idea, which he said other speakers were expressing, “that the people who use marijuana are depraved.”

“Many people in our community use marijuana. They use it healthfully, they use it safely and they contribute to our community,” Siegel said. “It’s hard for me to understand why people… have a problem with other people being able to buy it legally.”

Councilman John McAlister spoke in support of the pot stores, addressing the audience directly and stating that he had met with three of the vocal marijuana opponents.

“A lot of you talked about your children, and when I talked to (those) three residents, I felt very strongly that they were very diligent on being great parents, and they educated their children from right and wrong, and those children would know how to make decisions,” McAlister said. “People want to, in a sense, say ‘You are to take care of our children,’ but the first line of defense is the parents.”

Medical vs. recreational use

But the view that won out was that of Mayor Matichak.

“I don’t think anybody on the council is talking about trying to inhibit or prevent anybody who wants cannabis for medicinal uses from getting it. I think we’re mostly talking about recreational here,” Matichak said. “For me, it’s very clear that our residents really don’t want cannabis businesses in our city… We should listen to our residents.”

13 Comments

    • Cannabis like opium is a habit-forming depressant. Whatever medicinal value some obtain from it, a majority of users take it to get high/stoned/ripped/buzzed/lit etc. With average US IQ dropping drastically these Chinese parents are totally justified in trying to prevent their kids from becoming pot heads. Why are the white parents and politicians so stupid?

      • Nick, there is nothing at all similar between opium and cannabis. Opium is addictive and sn OD will kill you. Cannabis can be habit-forming for up to 9% of users, but no amount of cannabis consumption will kill you. It is physically impossible to consume a sufficient quantity. Educate yourself. Get your head out of the reefer-madness and recognize that legal drugs alcohol and tobacco ARE killers. Cannabis releaves, and for most users I know, that is the intended wellness effect. Newer studies show that there is no IQ points lost. The previous study did not control for confounding variables. When licensed and controlled like alcohol good parenting and use of normal safety measures at home should keep kids from using. Im a retired zRN. I know MDZs, lawyers, successful business people who use cannabis responsibly. There are no reasons to disallow access to a state legal substance that 67% of voters approved.

      • Well your comments) is totally off base. None of this topic is about adolescent usage in the first place. It’s just used as a bogus point. It’s 21 and older to even get in so how do children have any point in this? And by the way, are you as well as all these Asia’s voicing concerns over the recent alcohol supermarkets that are opening all over the bay area? I think not. When it comes to the Asian’s and their concerns, check out the card clubs. Man they love their cigarettes and booze. No protesting there. Everything they bring to these counsel meetings is all nonsense and hysteria. Just like your opinion.

  1. The Post quotes Mayor Matichak: “For me, it’s very clear that our residents really don’t want cannabis businesses in our city… We should listen to our residents.” This is almost unbelievable. Our laws should not be based on the loudest complainers, but should be based on the voters voting. Note that Prop 64 that made cannabis legal was voted YES by 67.7 % of Mountain View Voters in November 2016. Prop 64 was also voted YES by 58.3% of Santa Clara County voters and 57.1% of state voters. Not a single city in Santa Clara County voted against Prop 64 and Mountain View had the highest YES % in the county, with Palo Alto a close second. And more recently last November, 81.4% of Mountain View voters voted yes on “Q” the Cannabis Business Tax. Why should I vote for anyone who does not respect the voters decisions? The quiet majority is real.
    I feel sorry for the business people who tried to follow the rules and spent significant time and money to fulfill the new business application process, only to have it trashed at the last minute.

    • Jeff, the 81% voted yes last November is based on a total of 600 or so selective group of people , while most of the Mountain View residents were not aware of the voting and were not fully informed. The former mayor and a few other cannabis supportive council members were voted out of the office later which involved more real Mountain View residents. Didn’t it explain which voting is more accurate and represents more residents?

  2. Fortunately this kind of reefer madness is becoming more isolated as the truth about cannabis continues to spread. The real problem all along is that prohibition forces an environment of fear and secrecy on society. Prohibition generates the crime and violence.
    All prohibitionist officials can do now is make themselves targets for the voters to remove at the ballot.

  3. History judges alcohol prohibition as foolish, and it will judge marijuana prohibition as even more foolish. Imagine if a city tried to ban any storefront from selling alcohol and only allowed delivery services.

    The direction of the poll numbers are clear: each year, more and more Americans believe that adults should be able to choose to partake of a substance that three of our last four presidents have admitted to partaking in.

    When marijuana is inevitably legalized in 2022 or 2026 or 2030, and the world keeps on spinning, our former city council members will look back on this decision with a bit of embarrassment.

  4. In my opinion alcohol is far more dangerous, addictive, and deadly than marijuana. I wonder if those Mountain View residents who oppose marijuana and do not want their children exposed to it, refrain from drinking alcohol and keep their children out of every grocery store, drug store, and restaurant in Mountain View (all of which stock and sell a plethora of alcoholic beverages)?? The hypocrisy is absurd!!

  5. Lets put a label on Cannabis and prohibit its spread and use. NOOOOOO!!! Lets not! We all know what happens to people, communities and society when something is labeled as dangerous, forbidden or prohibited. People will be drawn to it even more. Their conscious will urge them to obtain it at any costs because now it is also deemed as valuable. Council seems to worry about an industry that has high demands and a lucrative market including a strong support from the community as proven through the voting process. Our votes matter more than those Chinese community complaints.

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