City hires firm to examine applications at a cost of $250K
By Terry Miller
The application window for the city’s commercial cannabis program is officially closed with a total of 128 applications being received, according to City Manager Steve Mermell in last week’s city manager’s newsletter.
Screening of applications has commenced and is anticipated to take approximately two to three months to complete with the assistance from an industry leader in providing cannabis management services to municipalities, according to Friday’s report.
Pasadena officials have been weary of the idea, despite the legalization, about pot shops within city limits.
In fact in Monday’s council meeting, scores of people stood up for the medical marijuana outlets in Pasadena which have recently been targeted and busted as illegal dispensaries, such as Golden State Collective.
The unmistakable smell of cannabis permeated council as citizen after citizen took to the podium in support of the mom and pop pot shops that have been “targeted” by Pasadena authorities. Each asked council to reconsider their tactics and allow the small businessman to conduct legal marijuana sales.
However, with this new alleged flurry of cash from applicants for these permits perhaps officials are taking the high road especially when they consider the collection of tax possibilities once these, hmm, high-end establishments become the norm for the city.
The complicated and lengthy permitting process the city initiated was designed to weed-out potential fly-by-night operations and hopefully attract more of the boutique kind of establishment that one might find in an expensive mall environment.
Applications were priced at $13,654 by the city. The total collected – less-refunds to applicants whose documentation was incomplete and could not be accepted – is estimated at $1.7 million.
The next step is a review of the applications which, the city manager’s report said will be scored against the established review criteria.
According to Mermell, the city has retained HdL Companies, “an industry leader in providing cannabis management services to municipalities, to review the applications.”
The company has been paid $250,000 to review the applications, according to Lisa Derderian, Pasadena public information officer. “The City Council approved a contract in the amount of $250,000 for HdL to review and rank the applications. This contract will need to be amended to reflect the final scope and number of applications reviewed,” Derderain said in a written statement.
Contrary to erroneous reports in some local media, the city has not seen a windfall. “The city has not made any money to date. The city spent hundreds of hours of consultant, city attorney and staff time to develop the ordinance, establish the application materials, review applications submitted for completeness, and will incur additional consultant costs for scoring of applications against established evaluation criteria – these costs have been or will be incurred regardless of the issuance of any permits – sunk costs if you will. The $13,564 commercial cannabis screening application fee captures a portion of these costs,” Derderian told Pasadena Independent on Monday.
Upon completion of the review, Mermill states: “top applicants with the highest score will be identified and then the applicant will submit a land use approval before a commercial cannabis permit is to be granted.”