Statement from Office of District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas
UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who weighed in on the Parkway proposal by Tidewater Patients Group (TPG) to become a cannabis dispensary and movie theatre / lounge space with on-site cannabis consumption. The City Administrator approved the permit for on-site consumption on Monday, April 8th based on the hearing officer’s findings and recommendation:
Prior to the permit hearing on March 4th, my office shared with the City Administrator a summary of public sentiment on the project based on a poll our office conducted and dialogue on our Facebook page: bit.ly/parkwayfeedback. At the time, Facebook comments leaned negative while poll votes leaned positive. Overall from these two sources, public sentiment was relatively evenly divided.
Regarding concerns about equity, my office suggested that the operator, TPG, connect with The Hood Incubator, whose mission is to increase the participation of Black and Brown communities in the legal cannabis industry. The two parties have been in dialogue to create a strong equity program.
After the permit hearing on March 4th, my office received additional concerns about the project, including specific concerns about proposed community benefits for this project and the operator’s history of community benefits, safety, and community access.
The above documents provide more information; however, my office needed more time to fully address these concerns. On April 2nd, I requested the City Administrator to take an additional 30 days to evaluate the project and allow my office to share more information publicly and help facilitate addressing constituent concerns. Unfortunately, I did not receive a response from the City Administrator regarding my extension request on April 2nd. Instead, she approved the permit on Monday, April 8th. It is my understanding that the City Administrator could have taken up to 60 days from receipt of the hearing officer’s recommendation to review and make a decision on the findings of the hearing officer.
Additional concerns have surfaced since the approval, including accusations against the operator in Richmond.
I take these concerns very seriously and am raising them with the City Administrator. I know this process is frustrating for many of you who shared your feedback with my office and who share our concerns about meaningful community engagement, enforceable community benefits, and concerns about the operator. Please continue to share your input by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 510-238-7002 so my office can represent your interests on this project.
We will keep you updated and appreciate your advocacy. This process has revealed to my office a need for both the public and City Council to have increased clarity, community engagement, and transparency on how the approval process, standards, and implementation for cannabis community benefits and permitting work.
My office has requested a report from the City Administrator to define the City’s community engagement procedures for the cannabis dispensary permitting process in order to make improvements. We will also work with the operator and the community to address concerns and community benefits.
The next steps in the City process are:
In order to begin operating, the project must comply with requirements of the Planning, Building, Fire and Police Departments. This will likely include securing a conditional use permit from the Planning Department, submitting plans and undergoing inspection by the Building and Fire Departments, and reviewing security standards with the Police Department.
Additionally, according to the hearing officer’s decision, the City Administrator must incorporate TPG’s new community benefits commitments as conditions to its dispensary permit.