Scoresheets for evaluating applicants for a limited number of cannabis retail storefront licenses will be considered Tuesday when the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors returns from summer vacation to continue virtual meetings.
Supervisors also will hear an update on the COVID-19 situation in the county and a report on the proposed County Wine Preserve business improvement district and will consider financing options for the Laguna County Wastewater Reclamation Plant upgrade project.
An in-house review team as well as a third-party consultant will use scoresheets to evaluate the business plans submitted by applicants for retail cannabis storefront operations in six community plan areas — Orcutt, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez in the North County and eastern Goleta Valley, Isla Vista/Goleta and Summerland/Toro Canyon in the South County.
A total of 17 areas will be evaluated on the scoresheets that were based on sheets used in San Luis Obispo and Pasadena plus a policy document from Chula Vista, according to a county staff report.
Areas to be evaluated include a description of activities and products, experience owning and operating a cannabis-related business, a record of cannabis operations in the county, corporate status with the California Secretary of State’s Office and standard operating procedures in compliance with state and local laws.
Additional areas for evaluation include a finance plan with proof of $1 million in capital, a financial plan or budget with income and expense projections, a plan for product procurement and delivery, and a communications and marketing plan.
Remaining areas to be evaluated include local employment goals, a labor protection plan for retailers with 15 or more employees, local supply chain support, a quality control plan, a site security plan, an inventory control plan, an employee training program and a diagram of the premises.
Applicants must score 85% to qualify for a retail license.
The in-house review team will then use another scoresheet to evaluate the neighborhood compatibility plans.
Opinions obtained during virtual community engagement meetings as well as written comments from residents in the six neighborhoods were used to develop the neighborhood compatibility plan scoresheets.
Residents’ greatest concern was over a retail business in an inappropriate location, followed by safety, traffic and parking, odor, the possibility that demand for a single license per area would drive up the cost of commercial rents and, lastly, the exterior design of the business.
The goal is to have a business fit seamlessly into the neighborhood, address residents’ concerns and provide a benefit to the greater community.
Analysis of a community benefit plan will have the greatest weight, followed by a visit to the proposed site, a customer education plan and a community education plan.
The analyses of the neighborhood compatibility plans then will be used to rank qualified applicants for each of the community plan areas.
Only the highest ranking applicant in each area will be able to proceed with the process of obtaining a retail cannabis storefront license and use permit.
Supervisors also will consider a timeline for the process, with an application availability notice issued in September 30 days prior to the application period, which will last seven days in October.
Applicants’ business plans would then be evaluated, followed by the neighborhood plan evaluations and ranking of applicants, with those ranked at the top given 90 days to submit paperwork for business licenses and use permits.
Staff anticipates licenses and permits would be issued sometime in spring 2021.
Licenses and permits would have to be renewed every year but could also be revoked sooner based on community complaints and lack of compliance with state and local laws.