The SLO Cal Roots and Element 7 cannabis dispensaries will eventually open their doors in Guadalupe, filling the city’s two permit spots after a 4-1 approval at an Aug. 16 City Council special meeting.
Element 7 was originally given a permit slot on April 26 with a 3-0 vote, but the council decided to have final candidates The Roots and Element 7 redo their presentations and take another vote because two council members were absent from the initial meeting, contracted city attorney Philip Sinco said. SLO Cal Roots’ permit was approved during the April 12 meeting.
During the Sept. 13 meeting—which happened after the Sun went to press—council members were slated to formally deny the remaining three applicants and discuss whether the city wanted to create an eligibility list for future openings.
“The idea is if one or more falls off and doesn’t complete the process, which has happened before, according to our consultants, we can have the council choose one or two of the three from the list,” he told the Sun before the meeting on Sept. 13. “I think they’ll agree with the wisdom of that, and come back with the criteria of the list and have the council approve that.”
Although The Roots was disappointed in council’s decision to give cannabis dispensary permits to SLO Cal Roots and Element 7, The Roots’ consultant Joe Armendariz said the owners were pleased to come in second place and are hopeful the city moves forward with an eligibility list.
“Frankly, even if both selected applicants do open, it doesn’t stop the possibility of the city opening up a third license as the city—to its credit—is very interested in economic development, and has very ambitious project[s] that could open the door for the justification of a third license,” Armendariz said.
The Roots planned to weigh in via public comment during the Sept. 13 meeting on what the eligibility list could look like and advise the council to create a deadline for companies to begin operations, he said.
“I suppose by definition it is a waiting game; we were very pleased with the way our application was scored and the response we got from City Council,” Armendariz said. “It is our hope by being on an eligibility list, so when there is a spot open, we will be at the very top.”
With Element 7 holding a spot in the center of downtown, and The Roots in an area with 37 percent vacancy rate, it made more sense to go with Element 7, Mayor Ariston Julian said.
“My choice [looked] at the whole community and where they will be located in terms of benefiting the businesses around them, among other things in their business plans and their ability to perform,” he said.
The city will also make sure the selected companies follow through with the community benefit aspects of their applications and ensure they uphold their agreements, Julian said. Creating an eligibility list creates fairness for the previous applicants, he said, and it makes it easier for the council since it’s already seen the presentations two or three times.
“It’s going to be open to discussion of how we are going to pick others. We are going back to the drawing board and [looking at] what they are going to do to benefit the community,” Julian said. “There’s going to be some interesting comments if one of these two don’t make it. There’s understanding from council that they want to look at all of the three again.”