News

Mountain View relaunches cannabis business applications after major changes

New process gives past applicants first dibs on opening pot shops

Mountain View is accepting applications to open up to three cannabis businesses in the city, resuscitating a permitting process that was put on ice following an overhaul of the city's regulations.

Cannabis businesses that previously applied to open in Mountain View earlier this year -- under completely different rules -- will get the first chance to reapply starting Sept. 9, according to Associate Planner Clarissa Burke. If the city doesn't get enough applications or too few companies get a permit, there will be another opportunity to apply that's open to everyone.

It's essentially a do-over of a messy process that took place earlier this year. The city asked for and received 10 applications in February, swiftly rejected more than half on grounds of incompleteness or clerical errors and then rewrote parts of the cannabis business ordinance, putting three more applicants out of the running. By the end, the city had nullified all but one of the cannabis businesses seeking to open in Mountain View.

The revisions to the law, approved by the City Council in May, focused on restricting and reducing the presence of the budding cannabis retail industry in Mountain View. The original ordinance passed in October last year allowed for a total of four cannabis businesses, of which two could be storefront locations permitted to do walk-in sales. Zoning at the time also allowed dispensaries to open up shop in the downtown and San Antonio areas of Mountain View and numerous retail locations peppered throughout the city. There were no rules at the time explicitly barring marijuana retailers from being close to one another, either.

The City Council's revisions completely eliminate storefront retail uses, instead allowing up to three "non-storefront" businesses -- essentially storage and delivery services for cannabis products. The San Antonio area is now off-limits as a location, and there must be a 600-foot buffer between cannabis businesses.

Allowing retail cannabis has been among the most contentious, hot-button issues in Mountain View over the last year, drawing large crowds to meetings every time it's addressed by the City Council. In March, when the council announced its intent to revise the law, more than 130 people spoke at the lengthy meeting, with a majority demanding that the council adopt a blanket ban against all cannabis businesses.

The plan, according to city documents, is to let the one remaining non-storefront retail business from the first round of applications continue through the permitting process, Burke said, while the three storefront businesses that are no longer compliant will have a chance to submit a new, compliant application -- for a non-storefront business.

Business owners interested in starting a cannabis company in Mountain View must go through a regulatory gauntlet, where "Phase 1" includes a background check with the Mountain View Police Department; evidence of a legal right to occupy the property or tenant space where the business will be located; and a written business description with hours of operation, security plans and type of products to be sold.

The only business to survive the first round of applications was MWKM Corporation -- doing business under the company name Grown. The application, though heavily redacted, shows the company plans to run a delivery business at 229 Polaris Ave. in Mountain View, located at the corner of Polaris and Wentworth Street, and anticipates primarily serving residents in Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto.

Grown's application includes plans for odor management -- even though the products will arrive prepackaged -- and strategies for avoiding illegal redistribution or sale of cannabis. Employees will be subject to a strict screening process and rigorous inventory controls, and will be supervised when a new delivery of cannabis products arrives.

The application also includes a plan for managing and protecting money received from customers, as many of the transactions in the industry are done with cash.

The business owner, Matthew Mahaffey, said in his application that he has deep roots in Mountain View, moving to the city when he was 9 years old and meeting his wife and friends there. With the state essentially greenlighting marijuana delivery services regardless of local ordinances, he said now seems like the "ideal time" to open on the Peninsula where there are no pot businesses.

Despite the tighter rules, Mountain View remains one of the few cities on the Peninsula to allow cannabis businesses at all. Palo Alto banned them in late 2017, while Menlo Park has a long-term moratorium on pot shops and outdoor cultivation.

Proponents lobbying in favor of cannabis businesses have long argued that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized the recreational sale and use of pot in California, has been stifled by individual cities and counties who have done everything short of outlawing marijuana, with a mix of moratoriums and tight restrictions. Local restrictions, along with high tax rates and fees, are blamed for lower-than-anticipated revenue from the state's cannabis excise tax.

Last November, Mountain View residents approved Measure Q, a new tax on retail cannabis products, by a landslide. The tax was projected to raise about $1 million in revenue annually.

A report last year by the state's Cannabis Advisory Committee found that early cannabis businesses are facing an uphill battle caused by regulatory burdens. A majority of local municipalities are either not issuing licenses at all, or being slow to write up a regulatory framework for retail licenses. The city-by-city approach is also making it tough for businesses to navigate a patchwork of varying conditions and standards that aren't always consistent with state requirements, the report found.

The deadline for applications is Nov. 8. If there are more than three eligible applications, the city will hold a lottery to determine which companies will move forward. The lottery is tentatively scheduled for December 2019 or January 2020.

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Comments

36 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

This will all seem so silly in a few years. When occasional storefront retailers have become the norm; when the automatic one-year license review (which the City Council already passed months ago) has verified that there are no problems with public nuisances, "schoolchildren," etc. (or, on the other hand, has efficiently removed any storefront retailers where problems did occur); and all the anxiety, misconception, fear-mongering, real-estate anxiety (or foreign-real-estate-investor) agendas, etc. thrown around recently by a vocal few people opposed to this progress have all faded from memory.

A fear that the various anxious or contrived claims about them would be discredited if storefront dispensaries were even tried (as the one-year-review process would require) probably motivates some of the resistance to them.


18 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2019 at 1:33 pm

I agree, this will seem pretty silly in a few years. Meanwhile, there's some great product coming from the MV gardens this year thanks to a mild summer. Gardening in the Valley of Heart's Delights :)


37 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 30, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

Why bother. If there is no storefront, why do I care if the business is in Mountain View? Oh, yes, our council members want the tax revenue, but don't want the benefits to its residents of being able to go shop and interact with a knowledgable staff member.
Disappointed in this council. Paranoid. I doubt any of them has been in a dispensary to even learn how they operate.


33 people like this
Posted by richl
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 30, 2019 at 3:15 pm

richl is a registered user.

This city council is a nightmare. They are still approving all the building projects, and they screwed over lots of people who invested a ton of money hoping to open businesses in the city. I will be voting against all of them.


20 people like this
Posted by MV resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2019 at 4:06 pm

too many potheads in MV.


14 people like this
Posted by Dat's da fact, Jack!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Actually, when looking at the ill effects of intoxicants, the headlines are most only filled with the escapades of too many drunks.
The alchies hate it when you point out the actual dangers of booze when they're trying to make pot seem like it's doing societal harm. The headlines show otherwise.

Oh, look what happened in Atherton yesterday. A drunk ran over a child.
Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Reader XYZ
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Common sense (resident of Old Mountain View) wrote:

"This will all seem so silly in a few years."

It's already beyond silly.

There are already cannabis stores in Europe. I saw one on my last trip: Kärntner Straße in Vienna, Austria. This is one of the prime shopping streets in the entire country. Not a big deal whatsoever.

Maybe Austrian stoners are better than American stoners? I thought America was the best at everything.


19 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 30, 2019 at 6:46 pm

The War on Drugs, especially cannabis, is a racist crime against humanity and the MV City Council are active collaborators, as they have been for decades. We're 23 *years* past from when the majority of residents voted to make cannabis available to whoever needs it and we're STILL having the same bad-faith debates, triggered by a small and ignorant vocal minority that crammed the City Council meetings and scared the Council into perpetuating prohibition YET AGAIN.

My friend provided cannabis medicine to sick and suffering Mountain View patients for 13 years but the onerous new regulations drove him out of business. City Councils over the years have made promises and broken them over and over, including a promise *to our faces* allow storefronts by the end of the year (2018).

All this for a botanical medicine with a 5000+ year history of successful medicinal use, 0 deaths EVER, and which the Drug Enforcement Agency said in a court ruling over 30 years ago is "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man" and "safer than many foods we commonly consume."


8 people like this
Posted by Fair
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 4:55 am

Weed View CA. Has a nice ring to it.


16 people like this
Posted by But...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2019 at 10:10 am

I think Mountain View will likely remain as the name, but if we're going to change, BoozeLand would work.

You can buy alcohol in MV every 10 feet and during the grammar school
walk-a-thons, you can buy booze right there on the school grounds(!) DURING A CHILDREN'S EVENT, via your bid.

Until we have a cannabis room at our grades schools walk-a-thons like we have wine rooms, MV is much more likely to be renamed BoozeLand.


3 people like this
Posted by Fair
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Sep 4, 2019 at 8:53 am

You can build it, but I'm not coming. Cannabis stores are way too expensive with all the State and local fees.

Most of my friends/family are going back to the black market and or growing our own... Mainly local dealers.


18 people like this
Posted by Stores
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2019 at 9:06 am

I have a small patch in town as well, but I do like the stores for more labor intensive products like hashes, edibles and tinctures that I don't want to hassle with myself. I also like the seed to store traceability of the legal stuff. Mold and pesticide residue is a big concern and I've seen lots of it in black market product over the years.

I agree though, they went overboard with the taxes which is propping up the black market. I believe works are in progress to try and reduce the high taxation, but I'll believe that when I see it. Until then, I figure I'll just use the stores for the more exotic stuff.


9 people like this
Posted by Billy Bob
a resident of Bailey Park
on Sep 4, 2019 at 7:41 pm

Rvs all over the city crime on the rise now canbis stores allowed . Mountain View City Council thanks for destroying a great city . Please dont run for re election


18 people like this
Posted by Didn't you hear?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2019 at 6:19 am

US Congressmen and senators in both parties have been investing in cannabis businesses for years now so the national path is clear. Check out this map of the US that shows the legality of cannabis by state.
Web Link
The war on pot is over and the RVs have been slowly exiting their usual haunts now that the path for them is also clear, thanks to our city council.


1 person likes this
Posted by OK
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 7, 2019 at 6:52 am

Slow progress, but forward progress none the less. MV is still moving in the right forward direction.
An idea as we continue: What if the city made it possible for a business with a current hard alcohol license to do a clean exchange for a cannabis serving license? It seems all the crime downtown is usually tied to alcohol, so eliminating one of the more dangerous alcohol dispensaries might help the community.
I'm sure the legalities of it all would muddy the path though.


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