The Solvang City Council on Monday tabled discussion on appeals from two cannabis dispensaries that were denied retail licenses.
The council voted on a tentative date of Oct. 14 to hear the appeals by owners of Fristaden Wellness and Mountain View Elemental Wellness, who were denied licenses to place medical cannabis dispensaries on a single parcel in the west end of the city in the commercial district.
According to Carina Sayles, a spokeswoman for Beverly Hills-based law firm Margolin and Lawrence, which represents Fristaden Wellness, Fristaden Wellness filed for a continuance after the applicant had done the same.
Three applicants submitted applications for dispensaries for the location. The city voted last May to hear the appeals of the two applicants and in August 2018 voted to permit a single medical dispensary in the commercial district.
Although California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016 with Proposition 64, the voter-approved law allowed local jurisdictions to ban its sale but not prohibit personal use.
After tabling the issue, the council addressed a new contract with the Solvang Conference and Vistors Center. In a unanimous decision in July, the council abruptly eliminated funding or the bureau, citing unspecified legal action that was discussed in closed session.
The city attracts millions of visitors each year — from 2016 to 2017, according to an annual report generated by the SCVB, the city generated nearly $8.5 million, or 51 percent of its general fund in transient occupancy tax, which is the tax charged to hotel patrons.
Negotiations for a new contract began in August. City attorney Chip Wullbrandt said that he was notified by the attorney representing the visitors bureau that a new draft agreement was “wholly unacceptable.”
Wullbrandt said the SCVB was going to “go dark,” or close, at the end of August.
“That’s not something any of us want to have happen,” Wullbrandt said, recommending that the council seek alternative providers to promote events such as Julefest.
Wullbrandt said that financial concerns with the SCVB’s previous contract were at the core of the city’s reason for pulling funding.
The council voted 3-2, with councilmembers Karen Waite and Robert Clarke dissenting, to keep the visitors bureau staffed at a cost of $8,500 per month until the next meeting, while the city seeks other providers to market events.