Ten pot businesses apply to open in Mountain View


As the deadline closed last week, 10 cannabis businesses applied to open up shop in Mountain View, more than half at a location either in downtown or on El Camino Real.

The city's laws only allow four marijuana stores, meaning there will be winners and losers, with applicants set to be weeded out during a lottery next month. Four applicants will be randomly selected to move forward in the planning process, which will ultimately end with a conditional use permit.

And although Mountain View City Council members had a clear preference last year to spread cannabis businesses throughout the city, rather than end with a cluster, using a lottery largely leaves the placement of the businesses up to chance.

In October, the council adopted new zoning laws and ground rules for cannabis businesses in Mountain View, including the lengthy planning process for applying for permits. The ordinance allows a total of four cannabis businesses, of which two can be retail storefronts and two can be "non-storefront," essentially a warehouse and delivery business that can operate within the city but can't make sales to walk-in customers.

The first leg of that process ended Feb. 1, the deadline by which applicants had to undergo a background check, put together a business plan and -- most importantly -- identify a location for the business with proof of ownership, a signed lease agreement or intent to lease agreement authorizing the cannabis business to occupy the property. A map of the proposed locations can be viewed here.

Despite a zoning map that allows large swaths of the city to be locations for the nascent industry, many of them ended up clustered in or near the Old Mountain View area. Three storefront applications, 275 Castro St., 278 Castro St. and 298 Castro St., are practically next door, with another just a couple blocks away at 660 W. Dana St., according to information from city planners.

Other applicants are seeking to open up at 1411 W. El Camino Real, located between the Shoreline West and St. Francis Acres neighborhoods, and 1970 W. El Camino Real, near the border between Mountain View and Los Altos.

The results of Mountain View's application process differs significantly from what Hayward received, which was a tsunami of prospective cannabis businesses seeking to open retail, manufacturing and delivery companies. The key difference is that Mountain View required businesses to have a plan in place, including proof that they've got a property secured, according to Sean Kali-Rai of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance.

"The way that Mountain View set it up, I think it was good in that they wanted people who are serious, who would go out and do the due diligence and spend some money and that would weed themselves out," Kali-Rai told the Voice.

In some ways, Hayward may end up as a cautionary tale for other cities. While it received tons of applications, none of them had a property staked out ahead of time, Kali-Rai said. The huge majority of those businesses will likely vanish.

"Now they've got an April deadline and I think a lot of them are going to fall out because a lot of them have great ambition and ideas but they can't execute," he said. "If you can't get a property, it's all for nothing."

Members of the cannabis industry told council members during the policy-drafting process that the lottery system of picking applicants was a poor choice, arguing that a "merit based" system would be preferable. It can take into account which companies have a better track record, and adds discretion over where these cannabis retailers will ultimately end up.

Only two non-storefront cannabis businesses applied by the Feb. 1 deadline, meaning there will be no lottery process for those businesses. The eight storefront retail companies will be subject to a lottery to decide the two companies that will move forward.

Although the total number of applications received by Mountain View exceeded expectations among industry insiders, it's a tough business to break into, Kali-Rai said. Prospective companies probably need between $500,000 to $1 million just to get off the ground, and finding an available property -- already a major challenge on the Peninsula -- is made harder because so many property owners are reluctant to lease to a cannabis business.

"If you do find property that's free and clear then you have to see if there's a willing landlord, and often times there isn't," he said. "They don't like it, they don't understand it, they don't want to have that federal illegality that still exists out there. It is extremely tough."

California's overall marijuana sales have lagged behind expectations since the state began handing out licenses. Former Gov. Jerry Brown expected to rake in tax revenue exceeding $550 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year, while Gov. Gavin Newsom -- ratcheting down expectations -- budgeted for $355 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Both appear to be overestimates. The state collected $234.2 million between January and September of last year, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, which monitors marijuana excise tax, cultivation tax and sales tax revenue. Some state lawmakers are looking to bring down the tax rate in order for more businesses to flourish.

Add up all the state and local taxes, and Kali-Rai estimates that cities like San Jose have a 43 percent effective tax rate on the products, which he believes does more than eat into profits -- it keeps some of the sales on the black market. He said the best guess is that the illegal market still makes up 60 percent of the cannabis market.

More information on the applications were not immediately available.

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17 people like this
Posted by MV Renter
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 1:09 pm

I'm really not for marijuana storefronts in Mountain View; even though I am not against marijuana use. I just don't like the idea of traffic and sale of it in my city.

But we're a democracy, and I guess the majority is for it.

But still, 1411 W. El Camino Real seems too close to a park and a school (St. Joseph) to me. The other locations seem better.

17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 8, 2019 at 1:13 pm

What are the city and state requirements for security at these kinds of businesses, both when the business is open and when they are closed? I would hate to see lax security at these businesses to cause a big increase in crime in the city.

30 people like this
Posted by Medical CBD user
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 8, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Wow, so much paranoia. If you are worried about bad things happening, ban alcohol sales in MV. If you are worried about traffic, ban all new retail sales stores in MV. So many comments reflect the propaganda and misguided laws created by corrupt politicians and businesses (cotton and paper industries) from decades past.

What bothers me about this article, is that he requirement to have a lease or property ownership in hand, limits this opportunity to the upper tier of our society. Also, choosing by lottery means that the distribution and location of these store fronts might be the best location to appease the paranoid.

If you've ever been to a recreational marijuana storefront, you'll notice an orderly and fairly constant stream of customers. Think Walgreen's, but not as sketchy. I would not think this is the type traffic you want to attract to a busy and crowded downtown with limited parking. Seems to me like it would be an opportunity to attract people to areas needing a little revitalization.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood

on Feb 8, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 3:57 pm


23 people like this
Posted by love my city
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 8, 2019 at 4:09 pm

love my city is a registered user.

I'm hoping our City Council follows this thread. There is a documentary series on Netflix called "Explained" which has a segment called "Weed". The state of California has approved the sale of cannabis and Mountain View Council has approved 4 sites, without testing the results of one site first. I encourage everyone to watch this documentary. I appreciate that not all documentaries are accurate, but this film is supported by much of what I've been reading. Perhaps after watching the film, those in favor of cannabis being sold in our downtown will have a greater understanding of why many parents and residents do not want cannabis around children. Our downtown must be a safe place for children and families.

Remember, there was much misinformation put out by the Vaping Industry regarding the relative safety of vaping compared to cigarette smoking. If the latest news reporting is correct, one vape cartridge has as much nicotine as a pack of Camel cigarettes! Mountain View needs to move slowly on these substances.

16 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 4:34 pm

>Prospective companies probably need between $500,000 to $1 million just to >get off the ground

Aaaaaand...the racist crime against humanity that is prohibition gets shifted to a corporate land-grab for the already wealthy.

Shame on Mountain View for continuing to spit in the face of the *overwhelming majority* of citizens who supported medical in 1996, and full legalization a few years ago. Shame on Mountain View for participating in the decimation of all the independent cannabis operators who courageously built the industry in the face of very real threats to their safety and freedom.

Cannabis businesses are NOT associated with an increase in crime. I realize the Chicken Little contingent has trouble processing this but cannabis is "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man" (DEA Ruling, 1988) and there's literally no reason why anyone who wants to open a store shouldn't be able to without any special fees or taxes. Cannabis is safer than peanuts -- literally -- and unlike alcohol it actually brings many benefits to individuals and society. Cannabis businesses do NOT sell to minors so there's not even a good reason for onerous zoning.


13 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2019 at 4:50 pm

>one vape cartridge has as much nicotine as a pack of Camel cigarettes!

@love my city
The most dangerous element of the average cigarette is the more than 7000 chemicals added by the manufacturer. By this metric, an eCig with mainly nicotine is unquestionably HUGELY less poisonous than cigarettes. Also worth noting that 1. cartridges are easier to dose and 2. depending on individual usage one cartridge will roughly replace a full pack of cigarettes.

That said, cannabis is in no way comparable to nicotine. There have literally been ZERO documented deaths from cannabis in all recorded history. This isn't just some random talking point; it's the conclusion reached by the DEA when they spent a couple of years studying the issue back in 1988.

Web Link (pp 56-57). Here's the relevant extract:

"4. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.

"5. This is a remarkable statement. First, the record on
marijuana encompasses 5,000 years of human experience. Second, marijuana
is now used daily by enormous numbers of people throughout the world.
Estimates suggest that from twenty million to fifty million Americans
routinely, albeit illegally, smoke marijuana without the benefit of
direct medical supervision. Yet, despite this long history of use and
the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no
credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a
single death."

26 people like this
Posted by @love my city
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 8, 2019 at 5:22 pm

It is irresponsible and misleading to lump marijuana together with tobacco. One is deadly, one of the most highly addictive drugs used by humans, and legal in all 50 states. The other is not.

I don't advocate marijuana use by children, but if you were worried about dangerous drugs around children, then you would be pushing to ban all alcohol and tobacco sales in Mountain View. Because marijuana has been a black market drug, it has been more easily available to children than alcohol and tobacco. At least that is how it appeared to me when I was in high school.

The misinformation campaign has been largely aimed at keeping marijuana illegal, not the other way around. Do a search for "Why the U.S. Made Marijuana Illegal" and you will feel completely duped and manipulated by the greedy and racist factions that have influenced this country for generations.

I will watch the "Weed" documentary you suggest. My perspective might be skewed as a medical marijuana user. I receive great benefit from CBD, and wouldn't trade it for the largely ineffective pharmaceutical alternatives that come with many undesirable and even dangerous side effects. That the larger population has been denied access to these benefits, and our government making it almost impossible for researchers to search for beneficial cannabinoids, is a crime that has been committed against you. And they tricked you into carrying their torch.

6 people like this
Posted by Memelorde
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Hopefully these storefronts don't turn out like the ones in SF surrounded by undesirables. Let's hope they turn out like the whole foods of cannabis.

5 people like this
Posted by @Memelorde
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 8, 2019 at 5:34 pm

By "undesireables", do you mean the mentally ill, the people less fortunate than you, the people less privileged than you?

I suspect it will be like the shops that already exist in suburban towns around metropolitan areas.

3 people like this
Posted by @lovemycity
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 8:36 pm

@lovemycity is a registered user.

Agree with your comments re vaping/ just read Juul leasing space in Mtn View :(

1 person likes this
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 8, 2019 at 10:52 pm

Greg David is a registered user.


I will preface my comment by stating I believe in the decriminalization of cannibis nationwide.

That said, you said, “Cannabis businesses are NOT associated with an increase in crime.”

This is patently false, seeing as every patron, every employee, and every transaction, by definition, is criminal in nature. The city condoning this behavior is also criminal. This is simple fact. Until there is reform on the federal level this is ALL ILLEGAL.

Period. There is no argument to this.

10 people like this
Posted by Hahaha. OK.
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2019 at 6:05 am

Lets then say the dispensaries are not associated with violent or property crime increases...what people actually care about.
That's the point, but I know, it's fun to twist things.
I still don't see evidence posed that the crime of consumption INCREASED when shops opened in the area. Just to twist things :)

13 people like this
Posted by David B. Karpf, MD
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 9, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Greg David,

Your circular "logic" is equivalent to calling an undocumented immigrant young woman or child a criminal, because being an undocumented immigrant under our currently racist POTUS is a criminal offense. Probably the woman that cleans your house, or the male lanscaper who cleans your yard is a "criminal".

I don't partake as a rule, but have accompanied friends and family to several dispensaries in the Bay Area (San Jose/Santa Clara, to be more specific), and found them to be professional, clean, relaxing, and secure environments, without any whiff of a criminal or worrisome element. No one younger than 21 was even allowed inside, so all-in-all better than the corner liquor store, which dispenses tobacco and alcohol (both of which are much more harmful than either marijuana or certainly CBD oil, speaking as a highly well-trained physician and Professor at Stanford.

David B. Karpf, MD

6 people like this
Posted by LMAO
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 9, 2019 at 12:26 pm

I'd also wager that there are far fewer dangerous folks among dispensary clients than those who frequent our local gun shops... Any thoughts on that Greg?

9 people like this
Posted by Interested
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 9, 2019 at 4:34 pm

I, personally, do not favor marijuana shops in Mountain View, but at least there is a strict vetting process. I am amused by those extreme pro and/or against views listed here, as both extremes lose validity and just seem strident.

We will have two storefronts open. Let's let reality be our guide here, okay? If shady people start appearing or crime increases - the truth will be obvious soon enough. I hope the storefronts have excellent and professional management in all aspects, or they will be voted out to satisfy those adamantly against them. Those who are claiming how harmless these storefronts are, will face actual local results.
That said, I certainly don't want Mountain View to become the "local dealer" for the Peninsula, but two well managed and strictly law abiding storefronts will have the opportunity to prove themselves.

And please... stop comparing alcohol and guns to pot shops... it makes the pro-marijuana people look desperate.... "Hey guns are more dangerous!!!" is a really stupid argument.

13 people like this
Posted by Victorious Hippy
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Feb 10, 2019 at 6:40 am

I'm glad things have changed. The national trend seems to favor the continued progression towards legalization, esp with senators and congressmen from both sides of the isle quietly, or not so quietly starting to invest in cannabis companies.
Looking forward to shopping local and supporting this great city:)
Smile and let it be :)

5 people like this
Posted by Logician
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 11, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Logician is a registered user.

@David B. Karpf

I'm sorry to inform you that any undocumented person in this country is by law a criminal. It has nothing to do with who the current president is.

On the other hand, it is in fact racist to suggest that their only job qualification is house cleaning or trimming grass, but I suppose someone with an important medical degree needs those services rather than cutting their own grass.

3 people like this
Posted by Neuro Scientist On Radio Now
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Neuro Scientist On Radio Now is a registered user.

Web Link

Interesting listening on how marijuana floods the brain
"Marijuana is both like cocaine and like alcohol. So it's like cocaine in that its actions are very specific, and it's like alcohol in that those actions are all over the brain. ... It does one thing, but it does it everywhere. So for cocaine, it does one thing, but it does it in just a few pathways. Alcohol does many things all over the place. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, does one thing more or less, but everywhere, and that thing is to enhance communication between cells, to enhance the message. So to kind of turn up the gain or the volume on a particular message that neurons are communicating. ...

When we smoke marijuana, the whole brain is flooded with THC, and that causes the cell-to-cell communication in cells throughout the brain to be enhanced or to be exaggerated. And that's really fun, because it seems like, "Wow, everything is so interesting! Everything is beautiful! The music is so rich! The colors are so wonderful! The food is delicious!" Everything at once is turned on. That's not how the natural system would work with discretion. ...

What's unfortunate is the brain does adapt to that, and it adapts by decreasing the number of sites that THC can have an effect [on]. So those sites downregulate, meaning they go away over time, and it doesn't take long, but ... the more you use and the more often you use, the less of those receptors there will be. ... When you take away the drug, then things seem sort of lifeless and gray and maybe less interesting."

4 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 13, 2019 at 12:56 pm

SRB is a registered user.

@Mountain View Voice

Can you get Council Member Kamei to explain why she asked and got City Council last night to agendize as soon as possible a review of Mountain View cannabis ordinances (before the "lottery"), and what sort of changes she has a mind. Worth noting that this comes out of the blue as I don't recall that issue mentioned during her campaign.

46 people like this
Posted by Angel
a resident of Gemello
on Feb 13, 2019 at 4:14 pm

Angel is a registered user.

@Mountain View Voice

While you're at it, can you please dig into who Kamei's and Hicks' campaign contributors were? I smell a rat. Neither of these newly elected officials campaigned on repealing dispensaries. I feel cheated.

Also, can Abe-Koga or Hicks even vote on something that effects the downtown since that's where they live?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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