Petition Against Cannabis Store Goes to City Planners

Jim Brewer

With the first deadline fast approaching, opposition to a proposed cannabis store in Oakmont grew louder when a petition signed by more than 900 residents was handed to Santa Rosa city planners urging them to reject the project.
Denise Godard, the Oakmont resident who spearheaded the petition drive, said in a cover letter to planners on June 20 that the 917 signatures were collected “in less than three weeks, and with minimal resources, which should confirm to you the degree of opposition by Oakmont residents.”

“In presenting the petition to the residents, we found widespread acceptance of our purpose,” she said. “We met with residents who preferred not to sign and I personally met only one individual who favored the establishment of the aforementioned store.”

A group calling itself Herbal Holistics Inc. wants to use a 1,492 square foot section of the building at 6575 Oakmont Drive, where OVA offices were formerly located, to sell marijuana products along with smoking paraphernalia such as pipes and vaporizers. The facility plans six employees for the store, which would be open between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. A security guard would be on duty during operating hours.

                                         OVA ALSO OBJECTS

“Hundreds” of emails have already been sent in, most of them in opposition, according to Ann Welsh, a principal planner for the Santa Rosa department. In addition, the Oakmont Board voted unanimously to oppose the project.
In her letter addressed to Welsh and city Planning Director David Guhin, Godard argued that “a retail business that cannot thrive with only the local customer base does not belong in our community. Indeed, the entrepreneurs who have applied for the permit are well aware the most of their customers will come from outside of Oakmont proper. They could have chosen open commercial areas nearby in Santa Rosa but have elected to locate their business as far East as they can while remaining under the jurisdiction of the City of Santa Rosa…”

Planning staff has yet to make a recommendation on the Oakmont pot store application, which is only one of at least 38 applications under city review. Once planners do forward a recommendation it will be up to the Planning Commission to decide whether to approve the project. That decision can be appealed to the city council. Disputed projects can take many months to resolve.
In general, to grant a permit the city must conclude that a proposed operation “would not constitute a nuisance or be injurious or detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or welfare” of the community.
At the June 19 OVA Board meeting, President Steve Spanier noted that the “the owners of this business have a long way to go in the permitting process.”