A fierce debate erupted surrounding the implementation of cannabis retail businesses in Mountain View, despite nearly two-thirds of the city’s voters approving Proposition 64 only two years ago. For the mid-peninsula sector of the Bay Area, residents currently have to commute to San Jose or San Francisco in order to obtain cannabis legally—but that could all soon change.
In a 5-2 vote on Oct. 2, the Mountain View City Council voted to allow two storefront cannabis shops and two delivery businesses in the city. An ordinance was approved to repeal Ordinance No. 1.18, an emergency ordinance banning commercial cannabis activity, and an ordinance was approved to repeal Chapter 9, Article IV, plus other amendments. The changes would allow cannabis retailers to obtain a conditional use permit, contingent upon the bills passing the second reading.
Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel and Councilmembers Christopher Clark, John McAlister, Ken Rosenberg and Patricia Showalter voted to allow those types of businesses, while Margaret Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak voted against the changes.
When asked whether he supports allowing cannabis sales in the city, Mayor Siegel responded affirmatively. “Yes,” Mayor Siegel told CULTURE. “It will be on the consent calendar. We did have two council members that voted against it, but the majority supports it.” Mayor Siegel expects the ordinances to move forward.
At the council meeting, Mountain View residents, many of them parents, fiercely opposed allowing cannabis businesses in the city, citing unwanted exposure to children. Due to the rising opposition, Mountain View lawmakers settled on imposing robust restrictions on advertising and security. Businesses won’t be able to advertise outdoors and merchandise must be hidden from windows. Strict security measures also apply. Patrons, for instance, must scan their IDs to prove they are 21 or older.
“I think the main concern is that lots and lots of people in Mountain View are using cannabis in one form or another, and if they’re doing that legally under state law they should be able to buy it legally.”
But the restrictions shouldn’t slow down the economic benefits the businesses would bring to town. “Obviously what we have on the November ballot, Measure Q, would generate revenue for the city,” Mayor Siegel continued. “I think the main concern is that lots and lots of people in Mountain View are using cannabis in one form or another, and if they’re doing that legally under state law they should be able to buy it legally.”
Mayor Siegel would rather regulate cannabis sales than continue to prohibit those types of businesses—a system that’s failed in the past.
“Basically what I said at the meeting was that if you continue to make the transactions illegal, and if that goes all the way down the supply chain, then everybody else has to be illegal,” Mayor Siegel clarified. “And so it’s just not in Mountain View, but back to the [point] where cultivation occurs. Legal businesses are supposed to buy from legal sources and illegal businesses buy from illegal sources.”
The city of Mountain View will hire a new full-time police officer and a part-time police officer strictly focused on cannabis enforcement. Upon the second reading, businesses would be able to open in the El Camino Real, North Bayshore and San Antonio neighborhoods, so long as they respect the 600-foot buffers around schools and daycare centers. The Grant Road and Phyllis Avenue areas were eliminated from the acceptable zones following debate.