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Palm Desert reviewing applications for marijuana businesses

In less than a week, recreational marijuana sales will be legal across California. While the state is preparing, Palm Desert officials will be looking over dozens of applications for cannabis business permits.

They’ll be reviewing 33 applications from cannabis companies, each vying to become one of the companies chosen to be one of the five cultivation sites, and six dispensaries allowed in the city.

Daniel Yi with the Los Angeles based MedMen said the company is hoping to open up in El Paseo, after filling out an application last week.

“We want our stores to be treated like any other retail establishment. Like an Apple store, a Whole Foods, or a GNC. You name it,” said Yi.

Eric Ceja, principal planner for the city of Palm Desert, said completed applications will then go on to be judged off of points related to questions about the proposed business. Those applications with the highest number of points will be given permits to open shop in the city.

Selection Criteria (Source: City of Palm Desert)

1. Location and Neighborhood Compatibility (35 points)

Is the location 1,000 feet away from schools, daycares, and youth centers? Are “sensitive uses” (places of worship, parks, pre-schools, drug or rehab centers) within 500 feet of the location? Has the applicant provided a detailed description of how the premises and exterior building areas will be managed so as to avoid nuisance, loitering, and other negative impacts on surrounding properties?

2. Security Plan (10 points)

Is a detailed security plan provided that includes descriptions for effective fire prevention, suppression, HVAC and alarm systems?

3. Qualifications/Experience of Professionals (15 points)

Does the applicant provide a viable business plan? Does the applicant provide information demonstrating successful previous business experience?

4. Building Façade and Interior Improvements (20 points)

Does the applicant provide a detailed tenant improvement plan that identifies all interior improvements? Are the interior improvements attractive and in keeping with traditional retail or industry standards? Are the exterior façade improvements attractive, suitable for Palm Desert’s image and climate, and enhance the surrounding areas?

5. Community Benefits (15 points)

Does the applicant provide an effective community outreach plan for nearby and adjacent land uses? Does the applicant describe credible benefits to the overall community, local economy, and any community or non-profit contributions or affiliations.

“A lot of it focuses on land-use compatibility, ensuring this fits in with the neighborhood or area that it’s being proposed in. A lot of it has to do with business experience, and the qualifications of the professionals,” Ceja said.

City leaders expect to hand out permits next spring, with shops going up sometime during the summer.

The reason for that timeframe, Ceja said is because the city has brand new regulations to review applications unlike other valley cities who already had medicinal marijuana use in place.

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