Recreational Pot and the Former Police Station’s Sale Highlight Redding Council Meeting

After the Redding City Council spent two hours wrestling with the idea of cultivating, selling and distributing marijuana for recreational use, two things became clear Tuesday night: 1) The pending votes will not be unanimous, and 2) The process will not be a speedy one.

“Everybody in this community has an opinion,” City Attorney Barry DeWalt said prior to delivering his report on whether cannabis-related commercial activity should be permitted. A total of 18 speakers, each using their full three minutes and a bit more to share their thoughts with the council, affirmed DeWalt’s observation.

City Attorney Barry DeWalt. Photos by Jon Lewis.

As the lengthy meeting mercifully drew to a close, the council worked its way down a “decision tree” proposed by DeWalt and directed the city attorney to begin work on a series of ordinances that would accomplish the following:

–Prohibit all outdoor cultivation of marijuana in the city limits and allow greenhouse or “mixed light” grows in appropriately zoned areas.

–Repeal the existing ordinance allowing licensed patients to grow as many as six medical marijuana plants outdoors. (Prop 64, passed by California voters last November, allows for as many as six plants to be grown indoors.)

–Allow commercial pot sales through a limited number of dispensaries or collectives, with those businesses selected through a request-for-proposal system.

–Allow the manufacture, distribution and delivery of cannabis products with regulations on manufacturing methodologies (i.e. no butane extraction).

–Place a marijuana tax measure before voters (licensed cannabis-related businesses would be allowed to operate during the six to seven months it would take to get a tax ordinance approved).

Mayor Brent Weaver and Councilwoman Julie Winter both said that the issue of legal pot sales in Redding has led to many sleepless nights. Acknowledging that he expected to be in the minority, Weaver said he would be voting in opposition to allowing legal marijuana to gain a greater foothold in Redding; Winter said she accepts that pot is legal and present, but her preference is to proceed with caution.

In the wake of Prop 64’s passage, the council imposed a one-year moratorium prohibiting cultivation, manufacture and retail sale of non-medical marijuana. The moratorium is due to expire on Dec. 1. DeWalt said he would be back before the council on Nov. 7 to ask that the moratorium be extended while he drafts the collection of cannabis ordinances.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

Police station sold

–Voted 4-0 to sell the former Redding Police station to the McConnell Foundation for $685,000. (Mayor Weaver, who owns property nearby, recused himself.) Proceeds from the sale will be held in a contingency account and will either be used to help offset a budget deficit or service the $370,000-a-year debt on the new police station. The move reverses an earlier council decision to apply a portion of the sale proceeds toward the establishment of a sobering center. Such a center is not foreseeable at this time.

Vice Mayor Kristen Schreder filled in when Mayor Brent Weaver recused himself.

The iconic brick police station on California Street is being sold “as is,” an important distinction considering the dilapidated building’s structural woes, City Manager Barry Tippin said.

The McConnell Foundation plans to raze the building (while saving what bricks it can and the green iron doors) and replace it with a to-be-determined mixed-use development, according to John Mancasola, McConnell’s president and CEO, and Rachel Hatch, head of the foundation’s community vitality program.

Parklets and art installations are some of the uses Rachel Hatch suggested for the former police station property.

The bulk of the work is pending the results of a grant McConnell and K2 Development applied for to demolish the adjoining California Street parking structure to make room for a mixed-use development that would include apartments, retail and office space.

In the meantime, Hatch described some temporary uses to liven up the project, including a farmers’ market, art installations, parklets and popup retail. They would be in keeping with the recently designated Redding Cultural District and dovetail with other downtown projects like From the Hearth on the Market Street Promenade, Shasta College’s Health Sciences and University Center and the Sherven Square building.

The McConnell Foundation’s purchase of the former police station has the support of the Redding Chamber of Commerce. Jake Mangas, chamber president and CEO, said his organization likes the possible positive experiences the project offers. Drawing more people downtown “will get more eyes on the street” and will allow other businesses to grow, Mangas said. Viva Downtown Redding also supports the purchase, according to John Truitt, Viva’s director.

Financial transparency

–Voted 5-0 to begin receiving General Fund and Redding Electric Utility financial reports on a quarterly basis, rather than monthly. The move coincides with the launch of OpenGov, a cloud-based program that lets city staff and the public obtain accurate and current information on the city’s revenue, expenditures and budgetary data.

For more, visit www.reddingca.opengov.com

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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15 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Thank you, Jon. Looks to have been a late night for everyone.

  2. Randall R Smith says:

    Hopefully, OpenGov will include grant spending and donated money held or used by COR. If Redding Parks Foundation, Shasta Regional Community Foundation, McConnell Foundation, significant state spending and other charitable giving remains outside of regular public scrutiny, then only partial transparency will have been achieved. Please keep us informed as to when and how this advance will occur.

  3. Frank Treadway says:

    Let’s hope that CoR council members consider a joint workshop with Shasta Lake council and staff on MJ ordinances and how to spread the do-re-me that will flow into Redding. SLK seems to have worked this out. These taxable funds, with restrictions, can hopefully solve the ongoing RPD understaffed problem, n’est pas ?

    • common sense says:

      Frank good point….now that it looks like the council has stepped into 2017-2018 out of 1990 on their beliefs,the next logical questions is -“Where Specifically” are these Millions per year going to go? What areas Specifically are they going to be allowed to grow in? What are License fees going to be? If they are too high….growers will go to SLC!

      In all likelihood….they won’t be ready to have everything completed until March/April 2018. The state doesn’t even have it completed recommendations finished yet….

      I Applaud the City Council for looking out for the Communities best interest ( Millions in tax revenues to help some real problems) over Personal Beliefs and Personal Opinions,Religious etc.

      It all starts with More Money to work with…Where that Money goes…..there’s a whole another debate!

      Congrat’s City of Redding……now to put those Cannabis Tax Dollars to work in the most productive ways!

  4. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Thank you, Jon.

  5. Gary Tull says:

    Excellent reporting as always, Jon.

  6. Chuck Prudhomme Chuck Prudhomme says:

    Great article but I am overwhelmed how the city council can prioritize the Pot issue when our city is overwhelmed by an opioid and crime epidemic! Let’s get our priorities straight!

    • Common Sense says:

      Chuck, with the new tax money the city will have a much better chance to tackle many problems…including those that you mentioned…..with the Sales Tax Revenues coming in shortly after the doors are opened on the Prop 64 Businesses, the question then is….where is all that money going to go!

      With SLC taking in $450k last year in sales tax revenue on Cannabis….it’s not a stretch to see the City of Redding taking in 3x/4x times that….potentially more depending on how things go!

      It all starts with funding…..

      I used to think it was the Devils Lettuce….until I got Educated on the Topic…..It all started with the Government having a Patent on the plant for medical benefits! Talk about Hypocrisy!

      http://www.patent6630507.info/

    • cheyenne says:

      Denver is organizing it’s city budget with $10 million from the marijuana fund. Somehow I don’t think Redding would generate the same marijuana funds as Denver. MJ may help but it definitely is not the answer.

    • Gary Tull says:

      From the many impartial studies I have read, the factors fueling the opioid crisis have been identified; none are related to cannabis use.

  7. Common Sense says:

    Interesting Cheyenne…. Wonder where all that other $190 Million went?

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/marijuana-tax-revenue-hit-200-million-in-colorado-as-sales-pass-1-billion-2017-02-10

    The $10 Mill you are referring to is the States” allotment to Denver…..what did they take in on their own “Local Taxes”?

    Shasta Lake City….Population under 10k took in $450k last year…..Redding is 10x larger…..

    Redding Will Receive Money from the State once they legalize AND get to keep what they generate in Local tax revenues…..And will get GRANTS from the State by Saying YES….the County….Nothing….Zero….Ziltch…No Grants from the State to Shasta County….No Money to fight the Pollution caused by Illegal Grows….No extra Law Enforcement money because they said NO. They can only hope the Fed’s will continue with a Bone as they have for many years on the MJ crackdowns….but No State Money coming…..

    • cheyenne says:

      Denver has a $2 billion dollar budget of which $10 million is only what .05%. And as Denver is the main hub of Colorado marijuana I would imagine most of that state fund came from Denver and went to other communities for marijuana education programs, Don’t be a lab rat, and to law enforcement in other areas, Pueblo. My point is that no matter how you manipulate the figures MJ is not going to solve the budget problems in Redding. How much of that Shasta Lake figure came from Redding residents? If Redding is 10 times bigger that would mean 90% of Shasta Lake sales came from Redding residents.

  8. Matthew Meyer says:

    Misleading comments from Barry DeWalt, apparently, are reproduced in this coverage as they have been elsewhere.

    DeWalt is paraphrased saying that Prop 64 allows 6 plants indoors, so he wants to repeal the ordinance that allows Redding residents to grow 6 plants outdoors.

    In fact, Prop 64 says nothing about growing 6 plants indoors. It just says you can grow 6 plants, and localities can regulate it, including by making you do it inside.

    Why would DeWalt obfuscate this point? Viable outdoor homegrows are a great way for people to opt out of cannabis commerce and to exercise their state rights.

    It’d be a shame to see this freedom taken away in the confusion for no good reason.

  9. Common Sense says:

    You are correct Matthew. Prop 64 give every adult 21 and old the right to grow 6 plants indoors. Outdoors only IF the local jurisdiction approves of that. They do plan to OUT Law the 6 plants growing outdoors, which is their legal right to but can do nothing to stop the 6 indoors. They can have “reasonable” recommendations on the Indoor growing….but…at the end of the day….just how are they going to know about the 2500 people growing indoors?

    They struck a compromise in my opinion….the do gooders that said we can’t have this in our town were thrown a bone with ….well you don’t have to worry about the crime and the smell now as we are taking away the outdoor growing!

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