21st-Century Red Bluff; Carlos Zapata Enters ‘Joint’ Venture

Downtown Red Bluff photo by Dan Massie, posted on the Life in Red Bluff Facebook page.

Did you know Joseph Paul Souza? I didn’t have the pleasure, but his obituary in the Red Bluff Daily News was the best. He wrote it himself and now I’m sorry we never met. After proclaiming his love for his family, he talked about how they bore witness to his “love for technology, a convertible sports car, and an awesome beard.” Hah. What a cool guy. “In lieu of flowers or contributions to various charities, give a long, sincere hug to your loved ones, and call a friend whom you haven’t spoken to in a while.” On it, Joseph. RIP and thanks.

Joseph Paul Souza – RBDN

And speaking of cool guys, Tehama County Tax Collector Parker Hunt gave a presentation at the board of supervisors meeting this week about a terrific new statewide program to help people who are delinquent on their property taxes. Up to $20,000 in unpaid property tax assistance is available and the funds do not have to be paid back. There are a few eligibility requirements, but it’s easy to find out if you qualify. There is mortgage relief available, too. I wish someone had told me about this before we paid our taxes. Where is time travel when you need it?

The counting of votes from the June 7 Tehama County primary continues, and the more they count the less chance of any change to the original report. There was a celebratory cupcake party at the supes meeting this past Tuesday. Former District 1 Supe Barbara McIver made way too many scrumptious cupcakes – I had two. There were even party hats but hardly anyone wanted to mess up their carefully coiffed hair. I chose purple.

Both supe-elects were in the house. Pati Nolen and Matt Hansen didn’t speak and there wasn’t a lot of gloating during the Public Comments portion of the meeting. No need to be jerks about the crushing defeat of Bob Williams (66% – 34%) or the 10 point loss of Dennis Garton (55% – 45%). Again, those numbers are not final and I’m sure that’s the reason neither of the lame ducks congratulated their opponents. Suuuuuure.

What will the next six months look like while Williams and Garton serve out their terms? Who knows? They don’t have enough votes on the board to execute any sort of scorched earth maneuvers, so fireworks will probably be lacking. Maybe they’ll even go along to get along. That would be nice.

Carlos Zapata’s  Palomino Room pot shop

Meanwhile, the City of Red Bluff has announced the three big winners in the cannabis dispensary competition. One will be out on Sale Lane, one in the old Cornerstone Bank building by Tractor Supply, and the third right smack in the middle of beautiful historic downtown.

Does this bother me personally? Nope, not one bit. I don’t even like the 3 storefront limit – especially when there’s a bar on almost every block. The free market would keep the number at exactly what Red Bluff can support. However, downtown business owners were dead set against a dispensary opening there and I feel their wishes should have been taken into consideration. The news that 723 Main St., home of the “World Famous” Palomino Room, would soon house a pot shop probably came as quite a shock to them.

Palomino Room – Red Bluff Daily News

Wait – the Palomino Room? How can this be, Liz? You can’t have a cannabis dispensary in a bar, can you? No, Strawman, you can’t. Here’s the skinny, if my sources are correct: Carlos Zapata – owner of the Palomino Room – and his wife bought half interest in 723 Main St in January of this year. The other half interest belongs to DBS NV LLC, Laythen Martines principal. Martines is also the owner of Sundial Collective in Redding, which will also be the dispensary at 723 Main. *Advice to Martines – call it Clock Tower Collective instead of Sundial. We have our own historic landmarks here.

Cone Kimball Clock Tower – downtownredbluff.org

One wonders how Martines managed to secure his multiple cannabis licenses in varying verticals in so many jurisdictions. Doesn’t anyone have Google? In 2011, he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and driving on a suspended license. He was pulled over on Hwy 101 in Mendocino County for talking on his cell phone while driving. The deputy smelled cannabis and found less than an ounce on Martines. Unfortunately, there was a duffel bag that also smelled like weed with $48,000 in cash and a digital scale in it. Oh yes, and a bunch of hydrocodone, too. Party! I guess the deputy pulled him over after the transaction, leaving his own evidence room vastly under-inventoried.

But back to the Palomino Room pot shop. Where will it be exactly? If you’re familiar with the building, you know it can really only be in the dining room of the PR.

PR dining room – Mercury News

It would just need to be permanently separated from the main bar with its own entrance, which it conveniently already has. Throw up a wall and they’re golden.

Which raises more questions. Will the kitchen still be open? The Palomino Room’s liquor license requires sales of food be equal to or greater than sales of alcohol. Without the dining room, food sales will be restricted to the bar area and the nightclub-cum-strip-joint upstairs.

This is a huge change to an iconic Red Bluff business. How do all the folks who supported flag-waving, militia-loving, COVID’s-a-hoax, Red-White-and-Blew-It Zapata feel about their beloved brick-walled eatery becoming a Wacky Tobacky shop?

Carlos Zapata – Melina Mara – Washington Post

Zapata spoke at Red Bluff City Council meetings, saying he was personally opposed to cannabis, but thought dispensaries were a good idea. Now we know why. So, against the actual beneficial plant but very much in favor of money. Hypocrisy much?

In another gut punch, none of the three dispensaries will be owned by Tehama County residents. Applications poured in from professionals far and wide that were more “polished” than those submitted by locals. Well sure – they have experience and lawyers. Someone could probably make a few bucks selling carpet bags with pot leaves on them.

This is what happens when we hide our heads in the sand and let the world pass us by. Or when we don’t keep up with new revenue streams because of cognitive dissonance and faux morals in the face of facts. All the cannabis advocates who have been fighting for this locally have been cut out of the profits, just as predicted.

The people who were fined or had property taken for daring to grow even a single plant outside, who begged for a path to legitimacy, who have been marginalized by the very leaders who are now sucking up to Big Weed – they are the losers here. Your neighbors and friends.

They’re not the only losers, though. The profits made by these dispensaries will be spent elsewhere, not in Tehama County. Oh sure, the City of Red Bluff will get tax and fee revenues but these dispensary owners will be taking their profits home to wherever they actually live – i.e. not here.

Additionally, all products sold in the dispensaries will be grown and manufactured elsewhere. Tehama County still has their unbelievably outdated ordinance on the books and no commercial grows have been started in the City of Red Bluff yet. Luckily, Sundial’s Laythen Martines has commercial grow sites in other counties, so he’ll get to do a little double dipping. Like he currently does in Redding.



If you appreciate journalist Liz Merry’s reporting and commentary, please consider contributing to A News Cafe. Thank you! 

Liz Merry

Liz Merry was born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, then transplanted to the Jersey Shore. She moved to Chico in 1984 and married her comedy partner, Aaron Standish, in 1990. They have lived in Manton since 1994.

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