A billboard for V-Town Farms in Vallejo. Photo: John Glidden.
VALLEJO – The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to review an appeal from V-Town Farms on Tuesday seeking to amend several conditions of its major use permit, including a requirement that the cannabis business donate $600,000 to local non-profit agencies or schools each year.
In February, the city’s planning commission rejected the proposed changes, which also includes a request to overturn a requirement that it add additional windows to the front of its business. V-Town Farms currently occupies more than 19,000 square feet inside the old Food-4-Less grocery store in North Vallejo.
City staff is asking the council to reject the appeal. “The appellant has not provided compelling evidence to modify the conditions,” planning and development services director Christina Ratcliffe wrote in a staff report to the council.
V-Town Farms was originally granted a major use permit to operate in March 2021 by the planning commission. Following an appeal of that decision by a rival cannabis business, the city council stepped in. At a May 25, 2021, public hearing, the council directed city staff to return with revised conditions of approval, which the council approved in June.
Charles Wesley, one of the managing members of the business, told the planning commission during its February hearing that the business only agreed to the $600,000 donation if it made $60 million a year. He said the business is projected to bring in $9 million in annual sales.
Wesley said the initially promised $600,000 was based on the business doing $60 million in sales, double Wesley’s other business, Coco Farms in Antioch.
Wesley also said during the same hearing that the additional windows would not help with the appearance of the building nor add security.
Council to take up smoking ban – again
Two weeks after a shorthanded city council heard complaints from community members about a proposed smoking ban in multi-unit residences, the council is scheduled to take up the issue once again.
The item is returning as councilmembers Katy Miessner and Hakeem Brown were absent from the April 26 council meeting. Mayor Robert McConnell recused himself due to a conflict of interest, leaving only four councilmembers remaining.
The new ordinance would prohibit smoking in apartments, townhomes, duplexes, and assisted living facilities. Several community groups and residents have pushed the council to amend the city’s smoking ordinance to include stronger measures to protect residents from secondhand smoke in multi-unit buildings. That includes cannabis smoke.
Several public speakers asked the council during the April meeting to remove cannabis smoking as a prohibited activity under the new ordinance.
The ordinance would declare secondhand smoke a “nuisance”' and empower a private citizen to initiate legal action to stop the nuisance, such as a lawsuit.
“Secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing drifts through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, ventilation systems and plumbing,” City Attorney Veronica Nebb wrote in a report to the city council. “The Surgeon General has stated that eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.”
Smoking would be banned inside all units, common areas accessible and used by residents or the public, such as laundry rooms, community rooms, lobbies, paths, hallways, outdoor eating areas, play areas, and swimming pools. Designated outdoor smoking areas would be allowed.
Council asked to approve new prohibition on fireworks
In order to deter the increasing use of fireworks in Vallejo, the city council will be asked to amend Vallejo’s fireworks ordinance to outline the penalty for illegally setting off fireworks within the city.
Under the new ordinance, persons caught using fireworks can be fined $1,000, plus be expected to pay for any costs the city incurred for disposing of the fireworks and all costs related to responding to calls for service stemming from the unlawful use of fireworks.
Also, the amended ordinance would make the host of any gathering where fireworks are set off liable for the response costs.
“In 2021, Vallejo Dispatch received more than 400 calls regarding the illegal use of fireworks from midnight on July 4th through midnight on July 5th and more than 500 reports on SeeClickFix about illegal fireworks in the month of July,” Fire Chief Kyle Long wrote in a staff report to the council.