By Kevin Harris
The Ventura City Council unanimously approved new application fees for cannabis businesses hoping to get a foothold in the city, during Monday night’s closed session part of their regular City Council Meeting. The fees will recover the city’s costs to review, process and administer the applications for approximately 45 commercial cannabis businesses currently interested.
The application hearing was a follow-up to the council’s previous passage of an ordinance in February that changed local laws, allowing cannabis businesses within Ventura city limits.
The presentation to the council was given by Ventura’s Senior Management Analyst, Yesania Anderson, who said that if the fees are adopted, they will go into effect beginning April 1, 2021.
The fees being proposed included two primary application fees, the costs for live scan and background checks, and appeals fees. The breakdown of what those fees cover is as follows:
Phases 1-3: Proposed Cost – $8,844. Includes application reviews; evaluation by consultant; and evaluation by city staff. The latter includes evaluations by local police department, community development and finance staff, along with a community meeting where the public can give feedback.
Phases 4: Proposed Cost: $1,482. City Manager Review. Selection of applicants to receive permits.
Live Scans/Background Checks: Proposed Cost: $377
Appeals Fees: $3,178.
According to Anderson, the total fee is to be paid in advance by the applicant, but any applicant who is not awarded acceptance through the process will be refunded the fee at a pro-rated level, based on which phase their application was rejected.
During her presentation, Ms. Anderson explained that the proposed annual renewal fee for the cannabis businesses has not been determined yet, in part because the tally of how many business applications there will be is not finalized. However, she estimated the annual fee would fall somewhere between $15,000 – $20,000. She also said that the renewal fee intended to be “revenue neutral,” meaning it would only cover the city’s costs.
Following the presentation, there were no public speakers, and council’s questions only required a repeated point or two. The motion to adopt the new fees then passed with a unanimous vote, 7-0.
The next Ventura City Council Meeting is Monday, March 15, 2021. You can see the agenda for the meetings, and watch the meeting this article was based on, at the following URL: https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/718/Videos
Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists, and having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also an author and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks.