City of Pomona’s Four-Phase Application for Commercial Cannabis Business Permits

On April 1, 2019, the Pomona City Council met and adopted Ordinance 4257, which makes it possible for the City to permit commercial cannabis businesses within City limits. While there are still a number of things for the City to decide, including: how many permits will be issued for each type of commercial cannabis use, when permit applications will be accepted, and what the applications will look like, the City’s permit process is outlined in the Ordinance.

As per Ordinance 4257, the City’s future permit process will be a four-phase, merit-based review process. If the Council institutes permit caps, this process will be quite competitive.  The four phases of the application process are broken down as follows:

Phase I: Cannabis Permit Application Submittal

This phase will include the need to submit all application materials, information, and pay all fees, obtain a zoning clearance to verify the proposed location is permissible, and complete a Live Scan background check.

Application requirements appear to be quite robust and include, but are not limited to, the physical address of the proposed location, proof or right to occupy the premises, disclosure of lobbying activity, owner disclosures, operating procedures, transportation procedures, inventory procedures, and security procedures.

Phase II: Initial Scoring of Permit Application

Commercial cannabis permit applications in Pomona will be scored and can receive a maximum of 1000 points. As of now, the point breakdown will be as follows:

  1. Business Plan (350 points)
    1. Operations and financial pro forma (100 points)
    2. Qualifications of principals (100 points)
    3. Environmental mitigation plan and benefits (100 points)
    4. Public benefits (50 points)
  2. Safety and Security Plan (200 points)
  3. Neighborhood Integration Plan (200 points)
    1. Community contributions and involvement
  4. Labor and Employment Plan (150 points)
    1. Labor peace plan (100 points)
    2. Collective bargaining agreement (25 points)
    3. Living wage and benefits (25 points)
  5. Air Quality Plan (100 points)

It is important to note that a minimum score of 80% or 800 points will be required for an applicant to be eligible to move on to Phase III.

Phase III: Public Presentation and Comment Meeting and Interview

In this phase, the City Manager will designate a Commercial Cannabis Permit Application Evaluator that was not a part of the scoring process in Phase II. The Evaluator may conduct a site visit and interview the Applicant. In terms of the public presentation, the Permit Applicant will be provided with “a reasonable opportunity” to comment on the application. How exactly the public presentation and comment meeting will be conducted is yet to be determined.

Phase IV: Final Ranking and Permit Issuance

In this final step of Pomona’s commercial cannabis permitting process, the Evaluator will issue the application a final score. The final score will take into account any public comment, the applicant’s presentation and responses to questions, all application materials, any amendments to the proposal offered by the applicant and information collected during the Evaluator’s site visit.

In order to qualify for a permit, an applicant must receive a score of 90% or 900 points. If, after final ranking, there is a tie in total points between two or more applicants, the City Manager may choose a third party to hold an “allotment by chance” to complete the ranking. Permits will be issued to applicants with the highest scores first and will be issued until any commercial cannabis business permit caps are met.

With future meetings of Pomona’s City Council and Planning Commission on the horizon, the public will undoubtedly have more information about the cannabis permitting process and zoning requirements in the near future.

If you are interested in securing a permit for a commercial cannabis business in the city of Pomona do contact our Southern California licensing and permitting attorneys for guidance. You can also subscribe to our newsletter or check back here for updates as things progress.

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