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The City of Watsonville adopted an ordinance to mitigate the barriers to equity within the commercial cannabis market place for populations that have been negatively or disproportionally impacted by cannabis criminalization and for pursuing aid from compassionate cannabis care programs. The ordinance can be found here. Equity applicants are those that have submitted documentation to the City in compliance with the Equity Ordinance that prove that they have been negatively impacted by cannabis criminalization and from pursuing compassionate care programs.
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Yes. The number and types of cannabis businesses allowed in the City are outlined below:
* Non-storefront delivery permits may only be obtained as an add-on permit to a permitted cultivation, manufacturing, or processing facility in good standing within the City of Watsonville.
No. Because of COVID-19 Shelter in Place Orders, the Community Development Department is not open to the public. All applications are required to be submitted via mail. Applications must be postmarked by 4:00 p.m. Thursday, October 1, 2020.
The City will only accept payment by certified check, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to The City of Watsonville.
Please send your application and payment to:
City of Watsonville
Community Development Department
250 Main Street
Watsonville, CA 95076
Yes. We have a utility payment drop box behind our building on Union Street in which you may drop off your application if you do not want to put it in the mail. The utility payment drop box is checked by staff daily. Be sure to address the application to the Community Development Department.
There are separation requirements for all cannabis facilities. The table is listed below:
* Separation distance from K-12 schools shall be measured from property line to property line. Separation distance for cultivation facilities shall be measured from parcel line of sensitive use to nearest wall of cultivation facility. Separation distance for all other cannabis facilities shall be measured by path of travel from nearest parcel line of sensitive use to the front door of the facility. Separation distance from K-12 schools shall be measured from property line to property line.
You must submit an application for a Zoning Verification Letter to determine whether the potential business location meets ordinance requirements, including required separation from sensitive uses.
To download an application for a Zoning Verification Letter, click here.
The separation requirements are different for cultivation, processing, distribution, testing, manufacturing, and retail sales of cannabis. Maps showing potentially eligible cannabis facility locations are listed below. Please note that determination of eligibility can only be obtained through a Zoning Verification Letter.
Pre-Application. All applicants must submit a Pre-Application during the identified application period on forms provided by the City. A physical location is not required to be identified during the Pre-Application process, but will focus on the qualifications of the applicant team, general security requirements, and operations plan, among other things.
Interview. The City will interview up to 3 more applicants than the number of available permits for each business category. The applicants invited to interview will be those with the most competitive Pre-Application package. Business invited to interview must pay the additional interview fee within 5 business days of notification of interview.
Conditional Use Permit. The most competitive applicants after the interviews will be invited to apply for a Conditional Use Permit to establish a cannabis business. The applicant will have 6 months to secure a physical location and obtain approval of all required local and state permits.
The City will only accept applications for cannabis permits during specific application periods.
The revised ordinance only requires background checks for owners and managers.
Background checks will be conducted through a third party consultant during the pre-application process. The fee for each individual is $300 and paid directly to the third party. The entire process is completed online through a secure portal. Those applicants invited to apply for Conditional Use Permits must then submit for Live Scan background checks.
Yes, all owners, managers and employees must be issued an identification badge from the Police Department, in accordance with WMC Section 14-53.208. No owner, manager or employee shall engage in any activities associated with a cannabis business without first obtaining a valid identification badge.
The Live Scan process involves submitting fingerprints to the DOJ, which will review for criminal offender record information (CORI). CORI reports will be provided to the City of Watsonville for the sole purpose of determining eligibility for operating a cannabis facility. Those who do not meet criminal history eligibility requirements will be disqualified.
To download a request for Live Scan form, please click here.
Here are the steps for obtaining an identification badge:
The fees for the cannabis application process are:
In order to qualify as an equity applicant or equity business, please refer to the application for equity status.
One permit from each cannabis business category is set aside for equity applicants, so that equity applicants will only be competing against other equity applicants for that license. Equity applicants are exempt from paying application fees. However, any fees associated with Live Scan or background checks are the responsibility of the equity applicant.
Cannabis Use Permits are not transferrable. They are issued to a business entity and do not run with the land. If a Cannabis Use Permit is surrendered or revoked, the City may open up an application period for applicants to apply for that permit.
The City requires a modification of your Use Permit anytime there is a change in ownership of the business.
The revised ordinance allows cultivation on up to 2 parcels, up to 22,000 square feet in area. If the expanded cultivation area or property will be financed with new investors or a new ownership structure, a new Use Permit will be required. If you are proposing to expand using the same ownership structure and investment group, a Minor Modification to your existing Use Permit will be required.
The non-storefront delivery permits will only be processed during the application period and will be competitive. Permits for non-storefront delivery for existing cultivation/manufacturing businesses will be through a Minor Modification application if the same ownership and financing structure are to be used as the existing cannabis business.
For new manufacturing/cultivation/and or processing businesses that are applying for a permit during the application period, the application must indicate all permits being applied for.
Yes. A permit application fee is required for each type of cannabis business.