Two issues that have been hotly debated by the Benicia City Council in the past year– cannabis laws and the final decision of an emergency demolition permit for two historic buildings– are on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
The council will introduce ordinances to allow personal cultivation and to regulate and allow commercial cannabis uses in Benicia, subject to a use permit and a public safety license. The ordinances to be introduced are Ordinance Chapter 9.60, Ordinance Chapter 17.84 and Ordinance Title 17. Ordinance 9.60 consists of such items as the establishment of regulation, possible suspension and revocation of licenses by Benicia’s police chief, and vesting rights of cannabis. Use permits, licenses required to operate a cannabis business and a process to review, issue and deny permits are some of the sections of Ordinance 17.84. The last ordinance, Ordinance Title 17.84, is split into five sections which are rules for residential cultivation of cannabis and details for the letter of law for the ordinance.
Staff recommends the council introduce the ordinances. If introduced on Tuesday, the ordinances could be adopted at the Feb. 20 meeting and take effect on March 22. If the council changes the ordinances, it will impact Benicia’s budget in three ways, according to a staff report by Community Development Director Shawna Brekke-Read. It will mean city staff must devote more time around cannabis issues and enforcing the regulations would generate a cost to the city, but the changes could also generate an increase to the City’s tax revenues, according to Brekke-Read.
“Staff has been monitoring available information on all aspects of cannabis including taxing mechanisms, and public health experts recommend a tax that allows up to 15 percent for all uses other
than cultivation, and a $10/sq.ft. tax on cultivation,” the community development director wrote. “Under this scenario, the Council could set the initial tax rate at any level between 1 percent and 15 percent, and make adjustments within that range over time depending on our actual experience with cannabis businesses.”
In other business, the council must make a final decision on the emergency demolition permit for the Foundry and Office Buildings at 678 East H St. The two buildings, once the home of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, have been part of a battle for more than a year over whether or not they should remain standing or should be demolished. At the Jan. 16 meeting, the council heard testimony and considered various options. After the public hearing was finished, the council directed staff to prepare and return with a resolution for approval.
The council has two options: they can grant the appeal and deny the permit or deny the appeal and uphold the permit. Staff recommends the council review and approve one of the proposed resolutions.
The council will also be voting to appoint Diane Dooley to Solano Transporation Authority’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
The council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a closed session to discuss legal matters. The regular meeting will start at 7 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 250 East L St. A live stream of the council meeting can also be found online at ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas.