Council considers retail cannabis application rules

by Garth Meyer

How to introduce retail marijuana to Redondo Beach and not get sued was the question before the city council Tuesday night. 

A 5-0 vote followed on how to proceed toward finalizing the selection process.

Councilmember Zein Obagi, Jr., first made a note to a group of Redondo Union High School government students in attendance, that the council did not condone youth use of cannabis.

The council discussed previously-set parameters on what an application to open a store would require – or not – such as a lease on property, “engagement with the community,” neighbor-compatibility and more. 

A conditional use permit will be needed for each of the two prospective Redondo stores approved by the council last fall. The council has two new members since then.

“I want to make sure we avoid any impropriety,” said Councilman Todd Loewenstein. “No favoritism granted for anybody.”

Another possible requirement is three years’ experience in the industry.

New councilman Scott Behrendt expressed concern about litigation and liability, to city consultant Ajay Kolluri from HDL Companies (Brea, Calif.).

“Once the procedures are adopted, they have to be followed,” said Kolluri.

Another issue was “how much you want to prioritize quality of owner vs. quality of the site,” said City Attorney Mike Webb. 

“The site’s importance is paramount…” said Obagi. 

Loewenstein said to weigh the site and owner equally.

“Location is most critical to me,” said Behrendt. 

Mayor Pro-Tem Nils Nehrenheim said the site is more important. 

A concern was brought up in public comment that a license could be granted to someone who does not open a store in Redondo, instead just holds the permit in the hopes to sell it at the point of “federal legalization.”

Obagi suggested a permit-holder be allowed 90 days to pitch the city a site. If not, they can lose the license to someone else. 

Nehrenheim made a motion, discussion continued – walking routes, banking, taxes.

“I don’t want bags of cash showing up at city hall,” said Nehrenheim, referring to how taxes would be paid. 

For a store site near walking routes to school, Obagi suggested a “more discrete presentation of what they’re selling.”

“I think we’re getting too detailed on this,” Nehrenheim said. 

“I’d really like the city attorney to take a look at this before we go forward,” said Behrendt. 

Webb will do that and the matter will come back to the council in July or August.

“This is probably the second or third inning of a nine-inning game,” Loewenstein said later. 

The cost to apply for a retail cannabis permit is expected to be $12,000-$16,000. ER


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