Guest Column by Richard Kerr
Mayor of Adelanto on behalf of the City Council
In a recent Editor’s Notebook by Daily Press Editor Steve Hunt (“When drugs cloud your vision” http://www.vvdailypress.com/article/20160206/NEWS/160209829/0/SEARCH ) he questioned Adelanto’s City Council decision to approve marijuana cultivation. Mr. Hunt says that “why the city of Adelanto feels the need to allow cultivators in its business parks is beyond [him],” and that “what the city is really doing is looking for a quick buck.”
Unfortunately, when the City of Adelanto submitted an Op-Ed explaining the answer to his question, Mr. Hunt chose not to print the Op-Ed. We believe Mr. Hunt raised a valid question that he posed publicly to his readers—and that the public deserves an answer. And here it is…
Why not an “industrial park” for cultivators when these companies are legitimate businesses that will operate in stealth in areas of the city that don’t and won’t generate pedestrian traffic or over-the-counter purchases, and operate far removed from the general population and other retail businesses?
As for the notion that Adelanto is “looking for a quick buck” shows how little Mr. Hunt has researched what the City Council is doing to live up to its obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars AND to ensure that the city remains solvent to serve its residents and businesses.
It’s time to draw attention to the positive aspects of the Council’s decision, and talk about the value and benefit the decision will bring to the city of Adelanto and its residents. The City Council thoroughly weighed the pros and cons of allowing marijuana cultivation, and only after careful and deliberate consideration, discussions and debate—chose to move forward believing that the positives outweighed the negatives, and, that steps would be taken to mitigate any potential negative consequences.
It’s no secret that Adelanto has had its fiscal challenges. But contrary to popular belief, allowing for marijuana cultivation may be seen by some as a pot of gold, in reality it is just one part of an overall strategy that involves aggressive economic development to address the city’s fiscal challenges.
During our recent State of the City address, I detailed several projects that are currently in process that will generate revenues for our City. Among these include:
- Eight new commercial licenses were issued,
- Five industrial licenses were issued,
- Improvements will begin this quarter for the Adelanto Towne Center at Hwy 395 & Mojave Drive,
- An 18-acre commercial development along Rancho Road has been submitted for review and approval through the Planning Department, and
- The widening of Highway 395, Highway 18 and the planned High Desert Corridor.
While the ultimate financial impact of allowing marijuana cultivation is unknown at this time, allowing for cultivation is anticipated to create a financial benefit for the city. At a minimum each applicant (there have been 29 to date) will:
- Pay a $7,000 application fee for a permit to do business in the city,
- Pay a yet-to-be-determined impact fee to mitigate impacts to Fire, Police and Governmental oversight (this fee will be based on the size of canopy area for each facility),
- Pay a $2,735 Conditional Use Permit application fee to allow the Planning Commission to impose conditions that protect both citizens and cultivators,
- Construct facilities to accommodate new businesses, thereby creating temporary construction employment along with purchases of supplies and building materials in Adelanto and throughout the High Desert,
- Create jobs to work in the business created; whose employees will spend and support not only the Adelanto economy but also the High Desert as well,
- Likely purchase products, supplies and services to be used to support the business in Adelanto or other High Desert communities,
- Hire local security personnel who around-the-clock will protect the businesses and reduce calls for service for Adelanto’s Police.
- Pay taxes already required by the IRS, Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization.
The “stigma” that Mr. Hunt claims will come from allowing marijuana cultivation would only happen if the new businesses lived up to the negative impressions that people sub-consciously associate with marijuana and other street drugs, such as, crime-ridden, rundown neighborhoods and drug dealers. Not one marijuana cultivation business has opened shop in Adelanto, and research done on the companies that have applied reveal no record of negative or criminal activity that could lead to stigmatization. In fact, the majority of applicants have been scientists, doctors, attorneys and other reputable professionals with extensive backgrounds as respectful leaders, teachers and honorable members of the community.
There are literally thousands of different prescription drugs on the market in the U.S. that aid millions of people; it’s odd that Mr. Hunt only seems to believe there’s a stigma if Adelanto allows for marijuana cultivation. If Eli Lilly wanted to locate in one of our industrial parks to produce Prozac—would allowing the company to do business stigmatize Adelanto because Eli Lilly is a drug manufacturer?
The lesson our youth and others can learn from Adelanto’s decisions is to not be paralyzed by fear of being condemned, ridiculed or criticized and therefore do nothing to improve one’s circumstances…the City Council has demonstrated bold, courageous leadership and will continue to make decisions that best positions our city to fulfill the responsibilities we have chosen to uphold.