Redwood City needs to do a better job reviewing cannabis store license applications – Palo Alto Daily Post
BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor
Remember Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, where all the kids are above average?
Redwood City released a listing applicants to the six licenses it will issue for cannabis stores, and each of them scored 85% or better in the first round (see table below).
City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz’s list shows that 15 of 27 candidates had scores above 99%, and three had perfect scores.
wow! How could the city have got it wrong when selecting the six winners? Everyone is above average, as are the children at Lake Wobegon.
But a little research shows that some of the candidates who score high have significant issues.
Take TAT Redwood City, also known as The Artist Tree, a Los Angeles operator trying to establish a foothold in Northern California.
As the Post reported on Friday, a trial in Fresno accuses TAT of lying about his application there. TAT is accused of using a fake local owner to get more points in Fresno’s scoring system.
How did this lawsuit escape the folks in Stevenson Diaz’s office, who gave TAT a 100% score?
It should be noted that the lawsuit was brought by Catalyst, a company that lost in Fresno’s contest for a retail license, so it could be a case of sour grapes.
Catalyst is also suing 1261 Wishon OCPO (also known as Cookies) over the same issue — a bogus local owner, according to the San Joaquin Valley Sun.
Cookies, a national chain, competes in Redwood City as Jiva RWC. Jiva RWC scored 99.67%.
Remarkably, the trial in Fresno is taking place at the same time as Stevenson Diaz employees were interviewing these two companies.
The Cookie Monster Problem
The Cookies chain has other problems. July 2 article in the San Diego Union Tribune starts like this:
“San Diego officials are slamming a local cannabis dispensary chain for allegedly marketing to children by naming its dispensaries ‘Cookies’ and mimicking Sesame Street graphics to evoke the Cookie Monster character.
“The Cookies chain, which operates dispensaries in Mission Valley and La Mesa, received final approval last week (late July) for a third dispensary in the Sorrento Valley despite strong objections from community leaders.”
The story goes on to say that the planning commissioners who approved the store were told that they had to make their decision based on the zoning code and not their opinions on the name of the store.
A planning commissioner, Kelly Moden, reportedly said it was unsettling for young people to walk past the new store, as it is close to several other facilities aimed at teenagers.
“If they want to expand their business and go to other places, they’ll probably continue to get that feedback from communities that have a lot of families,” Moden said, according to the San Diego newspaper.
If I remember correctly, when the Redwood City Council decided to allow cannabis stores, one of the issues council members faced was their concern about the marketing of marijuana to young people. Has it just been forgotten?
How did it happen?
Residents and the city council should ask themselves how did these candidates achieve such high scores?
It’s one of two things. Either these two candidates were not transparent or the city did not investigate them thoroughly.
It’s time for board members to put the brakes on this process — it’s not a pressing matter — and conduct a full investigation of the nominees.
Council members will have eggs in their faces if the city fails the selection process.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected]