I am proud to call Mountain View home and honored to have served both as a mayor and council member to a community I care about and that I want to see thrive. For these reasons, I feel obligated to speak out about the current City Council's plan to reconsider and roll back rules and regulations on the legal cannabis industry that a strong majority of the City Council, including myself, voted to approve in October 2018 after months of community input, debate and study.
I am not writing out of pride or to simply defend a vote I made on the City Council. I am speaking out because of the very real and dangerous precedent that a vote from the City Council to reconsider and rewrite the rules we approved for the legal cannabis industry would mean for our community, businesses and residents.
Just shy of two years after 68 percent of Mountain View voters (the highest percentage in Santa Clara County) voted to approve the legalization of recreational cannabis in California, the City Council voted 5-2 in October 2018 to conservatively allow for two legal cannabis retail stores and two dispensaries (delivery service only) to serve our diverse city of 80,000 residents. This vote was preceded by months of public meetings, community input from residents, and detailed studies, statistics and data on the cannabis industry and best practices.
Since our vote allowing for four legal cannabis business permits under strict zoning and operational rules, over 81 percent of Mountain View voters loudly declared in November 2018, with the passage of Measure Q, that they want to tax and realize the community benefits of millions of dollars in potential tax revenues that would be generated by legal cannabis sales; revenues that are currently going to San Jose and Santa Cruz or to support the dangerous and illegal drug market. That's millions of dollars in tax revenues that the City Council could be putting toward our police, firefighters and infrastructure.
And based on the good faith that the city and voters meant what they said when they approved the legalization of cannabis and the four permits, 10 businesses have since filed applications with the city vying for one of four available permits.
But now, the new City Council is considering frustrating the will of Mountain View voters and residents by taking up a vote at its March 5 meeting to revise the legal cannabis permit rules and regulations approved just a few months ago. Not only could this potentially expose the city to the threat of litigation from any or all of the 10 businesses that have presumably expended considerable time and resources on their applications under the lawful process approved by the council, but it also sets a dangerous precedent. A precedent that the City Council can simply roll back and revise rules, regulations or projects that they have approved in the past, including plans for housing and transportation already in development.
Such a precedent would not only harm our city's reputation and make businesses think carefully before considering joining or expanding in our community, but it would also generate distrust, confusion and unpredictable laws and policies for our residents and businesses.
How can a business expect to operate in an environment where they have followed all of the known laws and policies, have earned approval to commence with their business and operations (often at great expense of time and financial resources), only to find out that at the whim of a newly elected City Council, everything they have done right and by the law can be revised and taken away. It's simply bad policy, bad governing, and bad misrepresentation of the people the City Council is supposed to serve.
Ken Rosenberg is a former Mountain View mayor and City Council member.