Breaking News: Needles, CA: Needles City Council rescheduled decision on no longer accepting applications for issuance of conditional use permits for retail cannabis businesses due to lack of quorum.

By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):

Source: City of Needles (Information and Agenda Packet):

Needles, California: Members of the Needles City Council have rescheduled decision on no longer accepting applications for issuance of conditional use permits for retail cannabis businesses due to lack of quorum.

The announcement occurred during their regular meeting on Tuesday, December 14th, 2021.

The agenda item will be rescheduled for 6:00 p.m. PST on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 inside the Needles City Council Chambers located at 1111 Bailey Avenue near J Street.

According to documents from the City of Needles, on October 26, 2021, the City Council gave direction to staff to work with the City Attorney to draft an Ordinance that would no longer allow the City to accept applications for the issuance of Conditional Use Permits for Retail Cannabis Businesses.

Applications that are submitted prior to the effective date of this ordinance and which the City deems complete shall be processed by the City. However, the acceptance of an application under this provision does not guarantee that a Conditional Use Permit will be issued, and no vested rights are afforded to an applicant by the City’s acceptance of a timely application. Upon the acceptance of an application hereunder, the City will process the application. If it is determined that an application submitted prior to the effective date of this ordinance is incomplete, the application will be rejected. If an application is submitted before the effective date of the ordinance, but ultimately rejected as incomplete following the effective date of the ordinance, the applicant will not be permitted to resubmit the application.
Complete applications are application that contain all information and documentation that is required by the City and/or the City Code for submittal of an application for a Retail Cannabis Business Conditional Use Permit, including but not limited to the application and any approvals, site plans, documentation, and CEQA checklist, and all application and other fees are paid in full.

Notwithstanding the limitations above and provisions of Section 12A-4, requiring Retail Cannabis Businesses to have been existing, open and operating within the City within a fixed stationary building on or before December 25, 2014 prior to issuance of a Cannabis Retail License, in the event the number of Conditional Use Permits issued to Retail Cannabis Businesses in the City drops below six (6), the City Council may, but is not obligated to, amend this ordinance to provide for a process to consider complete applications and license additional Retail Cannabis Businesses, provided the total number of Retail Cannabis Businesses operating within the City at any given time does not exceed six (6).

*** History of Dispensaries: ***

  • 6 dispensaries opened without permits in 2010. The Council immediately established a ban on them.
  • In 2012 the voters passed the Marijuana Tax. The existing dispensaries were granted immunity from the ban if they paid the Marijuana Tax while the City was developing an ordinance regulating them.
  • In 2014 the Sheriff’s Office raided all 6 as unpermitted which led to 2 permanently closing.
  • In 2015 the City developed the original Medical Marijuana regulations (Ordinance 12-A). That initial ordinance did not include any, provisions to permit a new dispensary beyond the four that pre-existed the ordinance: THC, H Street, Herbarium, and BudFarmacy.
  • In December 2019 Councilor Tom Darcy requested that the Council amend the ordinance to allow one new dispensary on the west end of town; the Council denied the request.
  • May 26, 2020, the Council amended the ordinance to allow new dispensaries upon application. No limit as to the number of new dispensaries was set, instead their stated intent at the time was to rely on the marketplace to determine a dispensary’s viability. The process chosen to allow a dispensary is through a Conditional Use Permit which is discretionary as opposed to an outright use. The Conditional Use Permit process allows the Council to deny any application if they fail to meet all of the requirements for a Conditional Use Permit, such as neighborhood compatibility or adverse impact to nearby property values. Likewise, if an application does meet all of the criteria there is a presumption that they should get the permit.
  • Since 2020 10 total dispensaries have been permitted; including the original 4. Of those 10, 5 are operating as of today. Two are in permitting review.

The revenue chart since the change to allow additional dispensaries is attached. Of note is that while there are seasonal and monthly changes, the revenue trend is generally flat meaning that the additional dispensaries are not increasing the overall revenue.

What will change the overall revenue is an increase in customers such as population growth. Population estimates from the Census Bureau are that in 2019 there was 4976 people. Population in 2021 is estimated at 4974. These are estimates. The actual official population for 2020 will be released by the Census Bureau once the census data is released.
The California Department of Finance is responsible for determining official population for cities and counties for purposes of state-shared revenue distribution (gas tax, CDBG, etc.).

*** They report the following: ***

  • COUNTY/CITY: 4/1/2010 1/1/15 1/1/16 1/1/17 1/1/18 1/1/19 1/1/20 1/1/21
  • NEEDLES:              4,844    5,175   5,271   5,305   5,369   5,413   5,382   5,353

As for the fiscal impact, the City of Needles said in the documents unknown if more dispensaries will increase overall dispensary revenue or merely redistribute it amongst the dispensaries.

The recommended action to members of the Needles City Council is to approve Ordinance No. 647-AC Amending Sections of Chapter 12A of the Needles Municipal Code Related to No Longer Accepting Applications for the Issuance of Conditional Use Permits for Retail Cannabis Businesses.

*** Agenda Packet for Agenda Item #5 (Unless otherwise noted, all downloadable agenda packets that are posted here are in a PDF file format so please make sure to have a PDF file reader or viewer): ***


For more information, please contact Dale Jones, City Clerk at the City of Needles at: 1 (760) 326-2113.


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