Purple Heart may have given up on Hanford but two other firms are interested in basing their medical marijuana growing facilities in this Kings County community. Hanford could potentially decide to permit both their projects.
The two companies are San Jose-based Caliva (Coastal Grown Cannabis) and Playa Del Rey-based Hanford Gardens. This week Caliva CEO Larry Thacker told the city council in a letter they would recommend the city place a proposed cannabis business tax favored by the city on a special election ballot in August to facilitate a final deal instead of waiting till November 2018, the next general election. The special election would require a 2/3 affirmative vote.
Purple Heart had indicated that waiting until November 2018 to receive a permit was a deal killer, creating too much uncertainty for a multimillion dollar investment. The Oakland-based firm threw in the towel in the past month.
Thacker says their Caliva operation would offer “more and better-paying jobs” as well new “ revenue that does not come out of the pocket of city taxpayers.” They have such a growing facility in San Jose. Average pay for up to 250 hourly employees would be $17.50 per hour with full benefits they write in a March 6 letter.
A second company – Hanford Gardens wrote in a March 14 letter they also need their permit to be in place in 2017 to move forward whether there is a citywide business tax vote this year or not. The project “will create hundreds of jobs while adding revenue to Hanford’s general fund” they say. Their campus would have some 48 buildings.
Even if the tax doesn’t go to a vote or is defeated the city council permit for just two facilities could be approved suggests a staff report.
The report says that “Given that the City will not have a cannabis tax in place before the end of 2017, staff is recommending that the ordinance be prepared to limit the number of permits that can be issued to two cultivation permits, for a total square footage of no more than 400,000 square feet, two manufacturing permits, one laboratory, one distribution facility and one transportation facility.
This recommendation is based on the Police Chiefs evaluation of the regulation of the industry without a tax in place and not having experience with the potential issues that may occur with this industry. It should be noted that the letters submitted to the City indicating an interest in cannabis state that the projects would encompass the following: Purple Heart’s letter described almost one million square foot facility with 780,000 square feet of cultivation, distribution, extraction, lab testing nursery and other uses; Caliva’s letter described 196,200 square feet of cannabis canopy; Hanford Gardens letter described initial 350,000 square feet of cultivation and extraction with full build out of the project being a 1,435,000 square feet of cultivation.”
The report adds that “The limitation on the number of permits, will limit the number of permits that will be allowed to remain operational in the event a cannabis tax fails to be passed. The City cannot revoke the permits based on the tax measure failing to be passed. If the tax measure passes, the City Council may amend the ordinance to increase the number of permits and square footages to allow additional facilities.”
The development of the ordinance is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act. As part of the preparation of the ordinance, staff will prepare the applicable document. The applicants will be required to fund the cost to prepare the environmental documentation through the cost recovery agreement.
Council took up the hot button issue this week. Mayor Dave Ayers says the council decided to move forward on consultant drawing up a business tax targeting November 2018 but hopes the city can get the support of the two companies for that date in a 2018 vote and both come to Hanford. For the firms ” it’s a bit of gamble.The companies want be first in line by January 2018.”
“We will what happens.”