The cannabis industry is making its way into Guadalupe as the City Council approved the city’s first two dispensaries and a processing facility during a series of March and April meetings in order to increase the amount of revenue coming into its general fund, Mayor Ariston Julian told the Sun.
Guadalupe passed three ordinances in 2014 to increase sales and utility taxes so the city could generate more general fund dollars, and voters agreed to another in 2020, but Julian said the city saw funding generated by those measures start to dwindle.
“We were doing well with our money from property taxes, but it was slowing down so we needed to make sure we stretched our tentacles to different portions of the community to generate funds,” he said.
After looking at five cannabis business applications, the city approved Element 7’s dispensary during its April 26 City Council meeting. The council had already approved SLOCal Roots’ dispensary during its April 12 meeting and 151 Obispo’s processing facility on March 12, Julian said.
“Each of these individuals said they’ll commit a certain amount of their gross revenues to the city’s general fund. We are looking at 4 to 6 percent of the gross receipts; if they make $3 million, we could get 6 percent of that into our general fund,” he explained.
These increases could help build the city’s general fund reserves and continue Guadalupe’s climb out of an economic deficit that started during the 2008 recession. According to city budget documents, its general fund for the 2021-22 fiscal year is a little more than $6 million, and Julian said the city would need $800,000 for general fund reserves.
“We only have $300,000 [in reserves] now, but it’s a lot better than deficits. Cannabis is one aspect of how we can bring in other businesses,” Julian said.
Outside of dollar generation, the city looked at how the cannabis businesses planned to give back to the community through volunteer work, job provision, and donations to local organizations, he said.
“They are committed to Guadalupe. That’s why I ranked them high in terms of the selection process,” Julian continued.
SLOCal Roots founder and COO Adam Laurent said he and CEO Austen Conella worked with the city for the past two years in order to better understand Guadalupe’s wants and needs.
“I got into this in the medical days of cannabis, [and I know] not only can it heal people, but heal communities, and Guadalupe is an opportunity for us to have a dramatic impact,” Laurent said.
Conella said he and his team analyzed data and discovered that the added cannabis businesses could spike Guadalupe’s city budget by 20 percent annually because of the city’s size, and the demand for cannabis retail and cultivation.
“You are never going to experience that [growth] in a place like SLO or Santa Maria because their cities are too big. … This is a very rare opportunity to get people to come to Guadalupe,” Conella said.
SLOCal Roots pledged 6 percent of its revenue to the city, 50 community service hours per month, and that 75 percent of its employees will be from Guadalupe, he added. About 80 percent of construction supplies, manpower, and services will be from Guadalupe, and the base wage for employees will be $18 per hour with full-time benefits.
Now that the business is approved, SLOCal Roots still needs to go through the land use and building permitting process—which will take about six to nine months—and the project needs to be approved by the state, Conella said.
“We’ve been embraced by the community of Guadalupe and welcomed by our neighbors to become a part of the community,” Conella said. “It’s one of the last undeveloped towns on Highway 1, and we hope we can highlight its historic feel through our branding and our involvement.”