List goes to supervisors in July

Last week, Riverside County released the rankings of the applicants for permits to sell or to grow cannabis in the county.

The list of potential permit recipients will go to the Board of Supervisors for approval at its July 2 meeting. Those applicants whom the board approves will then have until Oct. 30 to submit an application for a conditional use permit, which also must be approved, before operating their cannabis business.

In October 2018, the board approved the permitting process for cannabis businesses. Operations such as distribution and testing had to file a permit request with the county’s Planning Department.

However, the retail and cultivation applicants had to respond to a request for proposals from the county. For the first year, the board agreed with its staff recommendation to limit the number of retail permits to 19 and the cultivation permits to 50.

After the RFP was released in March, the county received a total of 119 responses. For the 50 cultivation permits, only 30 applicants submitted a response.

All 30 were “… deemed complete,” and will be submitted to the board in July. For the retail permits, 18 applicants submitted for a microbusiness permit, which would include retail as well as another business such as cultivation or distribution. Seventy-one responses were solely for a retail permit.

The county staff reviewed, evaluated and ranked each response according to the criteria described in the RFP. While the top 19 ranked retail applicants would seem to be the ones for board approval, two groups of three are within 1,000 feet of each other. The county regulation requires at least a separation of 1,000 feet between retail cannabis shops.

Whichever applicant, from the group of three, the board selects, the other nearby applicants will be eliminated. Consequently, that would eliminate four applicants; therefore, the next four on the list may be among the 19 earning the retail permit.

The 23rd operation on the list, Green Goddess Riverside LLC, gave its address as 54900 Pine Crest Avenue. This appears to be the only retail applicant in Idyllwild. Green Goddess submitted applications for several locations within the county. The one in Supervisor Jeff Hewitt’s District 5 was ranked number 20. The rest were ranked below 23.

After the board ratifies the retail and cultivation permit applicants, each has 120 days (until Oct. 30) to file a conditional use permit and a development agreement.

The CUPs also will be evaluated to determine if a General Plan amendment or a zoning change or variance is necessary as well as the “appropriate level of environmental review.”

The planning staff emphasized that a top ranking is not equivalent to approval.