The Mercury News
Proposal for 24-hour cannabis production is tabled
Element 7 wants to produce medical and nonmedical cannabis products
After hearing neighbors’ complaints about location, the Pittsburg City Council has tabled a proposal to place a 24-hour cannabis manufacturing plant in a commercial area.
E7 Pittsburg, also known as Element 7, asked the city to amend its zoning ordinance to allow the manufacturing plant at 1416 Bobo Court, just east of Loveridge Road. Such an operation could reap taxes totaling about $100,000 a year for the city, according to company and city staff estimates.
Cannabis businesses are allowed only in the city’s industrial areas, but E7 Pittsburg sought to expand that footprint to include its desired 1.03-acre site, which is occupied by a partially empty building that houses longtime business Modern Custom Cabinets.
E7 Pittsburg wants to produce medical and nonmedical cannabis that would be packaged and distributed. It didn’t plan to sell the products there or allow the public inside.
Even so, several neighbors spoke against the plan at Tuesday’s council meeting.
William Cunningham, who owns a nearby business on Piedmont Avenue, noted that loiterers in the area had started fires in the past and thefts also had been an issue.
“So it seems this neighborhood is already a problem,” he said.
Claudia Ramirez, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County, which has a thrift store adjacent to the proposed site, said she welcomes additional security measures in the area but would be opposed if the applicant later asked to open a retail business.
Linda Lightfoot of nearby New Destiny Church urged the council to reject the plan.
“I don’t approve of any cannabis business,” she said. “The odor is an insult to the honest, hardworking people in the community.”
Lightfoot added that she thinks a cannabis business will lead to more crime, vandalism, robberies and thefts in the area.
“Cannabis brings a high security risk,” she said. “… The neighborhood will begin to look like it smells.”
Chris Bloom, outreach coordinator for E7 Pittsburg, pointed out that the business would provide 24hour, state-licensed security for the area.
“We feel that with the increased security measures in areas where cannabis goes, crime tends to go down significantly, and when crime goes down, property values go up,” he said.
Bloom noted that cannabis is “one of the more regulated businesses” and a use permit would state no odors can emanate from the operation.
Bloom also said a hotline would be set up for complaints.
“We absolutely want to be a member of the community,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to be where no one knows that we are there.”
But Councilman Jelani Killings questioned why the city would consider expanding its overlay district when no cannabis business is yet operating in previously approved areas.
Killings said he also didn’t think the business should be located near the new Destiny Church, where a preschool/day care had been proposed.
“When the building is open, hundreds of youth go to the church and they’re looking to open up a preschool, so that gives me pause,” he said. “For a long tenured property owner, that would be a real issue if we would not allow a preschool to come in.”
Bloom noted the church is about 1,300 feet away, more than twice the required buffer distance of 600 feet.
“We would have no interaction with them,” he said. “It’s a separate street, and we won’t operate on Sundays until services are over. We really want to work with the city and be a good neighbor.”
Councilman Holland Barrett White wasn’t swayed, however. “Places of worship and any use pertaining to children should be added to the sensitive use list,” he said. “I think there should be dialogue among extending that list.”
Mayor Merl Craft and Vice Mayor Shanelle Scales Preston agreed there needs to be more discussion about the proposal, so the council sent it back to staff for further review.