Sonoma City Council to revisit cannabis dispensary license


A pot shop, granny units, vacation rentals and a potential legal settlement are on the upcoming Sonoma City Council agenda, making for a busy and packed final council meeting of the year, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

It will be the council’s final meeting of 2020; its next meeting will be Jan. 18, 2021.

Among the agenda items is the hearing and first reading of a revised ADU and JDU ordinance, for accessory dwelling units and the smaller junior dwelling units. Ad hoc committees of the city council and planning commission have worked on the revisions since October to draw up a draft “fix-it list.”

A resolution awarding a conditional certificate to Sparc cannabis dispensary to obtain a commercial cannabis business license and develop a proposed retail storefront on Sonoma Highway returns to the council, after having failed in a 2-2 vote on Oct. 5. Both Mayor Logan Harvey and Councilmember Rachel Hundley asked that the council reconsider the approval in the Nov. 16 council meeting.

The council will also consider re-establishing the School Resource Officer (SRO) position to serve the school district with an office at Sonoma Valley High School pending the expected re-opening of public schools early in 2021. The School Resource Officer is a Sheriff’s Office deputy devoted full time to the various campuses of the school district. The cost of the SRO is shared by the district, the Sheriff’s Office and the City of Sonoma; it was discontinued in June with a new annual budget coming in the midst of wide-spread shut down and reduction of school services due to the pandemic.

The nine consent calendar items – which can be approved in a single vote, unless a council member asks to pull an item for public discussion—include approving the appointment of an interim city manager, announced last month as David Kiff of Healdsburg. Kiff will fill in for the departing Cathy Capriola, who announced in July that she would be retiring at the end of the year.

Also on the consent calendar is a resolution to a lawsuit over the mixed use project proposed at the former Sonoma Truck and Auto location on Broadway at MacArthur. The so-called Gateway project was approved by the city council in 2017 but a neighborhood group known as the Friends of the Gateway Corridor sued, saying an EIR should have been required. The developer abandoned the project, but the suit persisted.

The resolution approving the settlement, which had been negotiated in closed session of the city council, calls for the council to reverse its decisions approving the development and agree to pay legal fees amounting to $85,000 to the lawyer, Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, which will lead to the suit being withdrawn.

Among the other consent calendar items are operating rules for the 2021 Tuesday farmers market that take into account the ongoing COVID crisis, a new job description and salary range for the city’s public works operations manager (a position currently unfilled), making some temporary staff hires in the water department, and setting the council’s meeting schedule for 2021.

Several financial reports are also included, including the annual report on vacation rental enforcement, the city assessed over $112,850 in taxes, fees and interest, plus penalties from 17 code violation enforcements of 23 illegal vacation rentals in the past year, of which a little over half has been paid.

Chief Orlando Rodriguez will also give an update on noisy muffler enforcement in Sonoma.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14, via live streaming and a Zoom link on the city website at sonomacity.org.



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