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Santa Clara Planning Commissioners Debate Cannabis Ban

Planning Commissioners convened via remote teleconferencing for an April 8 meeting while City staff were present in the City Hall chambers seated at least six feet apart and donning masks and gloves. The meeting’s unique circumstances were allowed through an exception to the Brown Act made by the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cannabis Ban

An April 2019 decision to recommend that City Council place a moratorium on cannabis dispensaries in the city until June 2020 was revisited by the commission who remain divided on the issue. In 2018, voters passed Measure M by over 76 percent allowing for the taxation of dispensaries in the city, however, commissioners were in disagreement about whether that signifies that voters actually want dispensaries in the city. There was also ample discussion about the trade-off between the amount of revenue generated for the City from cannabis businesses versus municipal funds spent on regulation and enforcement.

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“If we only allowed three retail dispensaries in the city that would reduce the burden on the police and it would be a fairly good money generator for the City — at least a million dollars per year,” said Commissioner Suds Jain. Jain also advocated against the practice of dispensaries being cash-only, a by-product of federal restrictions against marijuana, saying that cash-only transactions engender criminal activity. He said that a company, Shift Processing, has enabled credit transactions for other dispensaries in the state by acting as a third party.

Commissioner Priya Cherukuru voiced a firm stance against commercial cannabis business in Santa Clara saying that the product poses health risks to children and pregnant women, which may be heightened because of COVID-19.

An attempted vote to prohibit all commercial cannabis activities failed 4-3. A subsequent vote to revisit the issue again on February 28, 2021 did pass. The commission also voted to recommend that City Council limit cannabis activities to retail establishments only, whenever that body deliberates on the issue in the future.

Lawson Lane Office Campus

Developer Sobrato sought to expand an existing office campus at 2200 Lawson Lane by adding 241,419 square feet of office space and 466 parking spaces within a six-level parking garage. The project site is situated on the west campus while the east campus has an existing office building completed in 2013. ServiceNow occupies the east campus and is expected to also inhabit the west campus once complete.

“By expanding into multiple buildings around Lawson Lane in Santa Clara [ServcieNow] is showing that they’re committed long-term to Santa Clara as their global headquarters,” said Michael You, Development Manager for Sobrato. He also commented that Sobrato is committed to moving the development forward despite adverse economic conditions.

The project will feature solar panels on the parking garage and a 3D mesh screen along the structure’s San Tomas Expressway frontage to boost the aesthetics. The project was approved with the conditions that it seek LEED Gold certification, contain additional electric vehicle charging stations and bike parking, and that the Transportation Demand Management plan reduce vehicle miles traveled by a minimum of 20 percent.

The Planning Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, May 27.

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3 Comments
  1. jonn anderson 5 months ago
    Reply

    “Commissioner Priya Cherukuru voiced a firm stance against commercial cannabis business in Santa Clara saying that the product poses health risks to children and pregnant women”

    That makes sense – should we also ban sales of alcohol? I’ve heard that product also poses health risks to children and pregnant women.

  2. Winnie Sloan 5 months ago
    Reply

    It gets very tiresome that the basis for bringing in a cannabis business is solely based on the amount of money it will bring into the city. If Sunnyvale and San Jose both sell cannabis, then it is readily available within a short distance from Santa Clara. Why does Santa Clara also have to sell cannabis? I agree that the city coffers are important but selling cannabis with other retailers within close proximity does not make sense. We do not have to have dealers within the city limits. Santa Clara does not have a Trader Joe’s because there is one located close on El Camino in Sunnyvale and another one close on Prospect in San Jose. It seems that a Trader Joe’s would bring in a lot of business but we don’t have one. If the decision is made to open up cannabis businesses within Santa Clara, where will they be located? El Camino storefronts are being bulldozed to make way for mixed use business/housing complexes. Will the condo/apartment owners want to have a cannabis business located just below them?

  3. mike armer 5 months ago
    Reply

    Here we go again with the same nonsense, children and pregnant women. Did Priya have anything to say when a couple of years ago an alcohol supermarket chain Wine and More, set up 11 stores in Santa Clara? How many complaints show up regarding all the events the city has all summer long where alcohol is served in public? And any cannabis stores shouldn’t have to be hidden in some ridiculous obscure part of the city as well. The city doesn’t want legal cannabis and make money off it, then the black market will remain alive and well and so will the other cities collecting tax money. But please…..spare us all the poor little kiddies while they’re taken to events and watch all the adults stand in line in front of the wine booths and beer trucks. People have a choice. They simply don’t have to shop in them. But please, to the city counsel, stop listening to people and their 50 year old monkey experiment propaganda. We only want a couple of store to buy it and take it home. Marijuana is legal in California……..get over it.

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