Retail Cannabis License butterfly

Pacific Grove City Council rescinds Ordinance No. 20-022

At the December 16, 2020 meeting, the Pacific Grove City Council introduced and held first reading of an ordinance to amend the Pacific Grove Municipal Code to Rescind the Cannabis Retain License Process Approved by Ordinance No. 20-022, directed that publication of the ordinance be satisfied by publication of a summary approved by the City Attorney, and directed staff to develop a plan for cannabis community outreach and return to the City Council with a strategy. 

Cannabis Referendum fails to obtain requisite signatures

On September 16, 2020, the City of Pacific Grove City Council adopted Ordinance No. 20-022 to create a licensing process to allow a single storefront cannabis dispensary (which can sell adult and medicinal cannabis products) within the City.  Due to a Citizen Referendum Petition, all license application review and selection activities by the City were held in abeyance until the referendum was resolved.  On October 29, 2020, the Citizen’s Referendum Against Ordinance 20-022, which contained 42 Sections and 1,147 signatures, was filed with the City and transferred to the Monterey County Elections Department for signature verification (pursuant to Elections Code Sections 9114-9115). 

On November 24, 2020, the Elections Department determined the number of valid signatures on the petition was 1,066 signatures (81 signatures, including 13 as duplicate signatures were not counted).  The minimum number of signatures required for a referendum to be deemed valid is 1,069 (Elections Code Section 9215). 

The tabulation of signatures is not yet final.  The petition proponent has lodged a request to examine the petition in accord with Government Code Section 6235.5.  This review process allows a final examination of the signatures to begin within 21 days of the certification.

The Retail Cannabis License application window opened on September 22, 2020 and closed at 4:00 PM on October 22, 2020. During the application window, the City received 5 applications from the following entities:

  1. Destoney Inc. dba Big Sur Cannabotnicals
  2. The Apothecarium Dispensary
  3. Raaja Enterprise LLC dba Cannabis 101 Dispensary
  4. NUG/Enea Wellness PG LLC
  5. PG Holistic Health

All action on the Cannabis ordinance (including opening of sealed bids or collection of fees or deposits) is being held in abeyance until the referendum petition is resolved.

On September 16, 2020, the City of Pacific Grove City Council adopted Ordinance No. 20-022 to create a licensing process to allow a single storefront cannabis dispensary (which can sell adult and medicinal cannabis products) within the City. Under this ordinance, the cannabis dispensary cannot be located within a 600-foot radius of a school (K through 12th Grade), a 200-foot radius of the Pacific Grove Youth Center and the Pacific Grove Community Center, a 100-foot radius of Family Day Care, or within any area identified by the Chief of Police.

The City of Pacific Grove is currently accepting Retail Cannabis License applications and proposals from all interested parties through 4 p.m., Thursday, October 22, 2020. Please check the information below regarding application submittal requirements, and review and selection processes.

APPLICATION SUBMITTAL REQUIREMENTSTo be considered for a Retail Cannabis License, all applicants must submit a complete application packet along with payment by 4 p.m., Thursday, October 22, 2020. Each application packet must include the following items. Please check the Application Submittal Details tab below for additional information.

  1. A Cashier's Check or Money Order for $9,000 (payable to City of Pacific Grove)
  2. Complete Retail Cannabis License Application
  3. Signed Indemnification/Financial Responsibility Form
  4. Signed and Notarized Property Owner's Statement of Consent
  5. Zoning Verification Letter (Click here to apply)
  6. Proof of Insurability of the site/business/principals
  7. Confirmation(s) of Criminal History Check (click here to apply)
  8. Additional Submission Requirements (max. response 200 pages)
    • Business Plan
    • Labor and Local Enterprise Plan
    • Safety Plan
    • Security Plan
    • Neighborhood Compatibility Plan
    • Location
    • Community Benefits Plan

Applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully review the City's Ordinance No. 20-022 as well as the Operational Regulations for Cannabis Retail Establishments in order to aid with the application packet submittal. Applications received after the deadline will be rejected.

If an applicant would like their financial information to be treated confidential, they should clearly identify it on each page. Applicants are advised that certain financial information may be subject to disclosure under Government Code Section 6254. Security Plans will not be made public pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(f).

HOW TO SUBMIT APPLICATION PACKETSApplication packets must be submitted in PDF format on a USB flash drive along with payment to the following address:

Pacific Grove Police Department
Attn: Haroon Noori
580 Pine Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Submittals must be in a sealed envelope or box labeled “CANNABIS RETAIL LICENSE APPLICATION .”

Files on the thumb drive must be organized and named as follows:

  1. PDF File#1: Signed Retail Cannabis License Application
  2. PDF File#2: Signed Indemnification/Financial Responsibility Form
  3. PDF File#3: Signed and Notarized Property Owner's Statement of Consent
  4. PDF File#4: Zoning Verification Letter
  5. PDF File#5: Proof of Insurability of the site/business/principals
  6. PDF File#6: Confirmation(s) of Criminal History Check
  7. PDF File#7: Additional Submission Requirements (limit response to 200 pages)

APPLICATION FEES: All applicants are required to submit a deposit fee of $9,000 in which they will be charged for City staff and the Consultant’s time for reviewing applications and administrating the application process.  Applicants may be required to pay additional amounts as required for the sole purpose of the City’s completion of the application review process. Additional fees include:

  • $218 Zoning Verification Letter fee which must be paid directly to the Community Development Department at the time of the request. Additional planning and building permit fees will be due and payable to the City of Pacific Grove at the time of application to the Community Development Department.
  • $300 per person Provisional Background fee paid on the background portal site.
  • $37 Live Scan fee for Applicants who are awarded a license.

Payments must be made by a certified check, cashier’s check or money order made payable to the City of Pacific Grove. Please note the City will not accept cash or credit cards and application fees are non-refundable; however, any remaining balance not used from the fees resulting in the Applicant not participating in any phase of the process will be returned to the Applicant.

The applicant will be notified by e-mail if the application is advancing to Phase II and subsequently to Phases III and IV (see Application Evaluation Section below). The amount of the final fee charged will depend on if the Applicant is still under consideration for a cannabis retail license. 

Additionally, in the event that any claim, action, or proceeding as described above is filed against the City, the applicant shall within 30 days of the filing make an additional deposit of $20,000 to the City to cover the costs or expenses involved in City defense. If during the litigation process, actual costs or expenses incurred reach 80% of the amount on deposit, the applicant shall within 30 days deposit additional funds sufficient to bring the balance up to the amount of $30,000.

RETAIL CANNABIS LICENSE APPLICATION: All applicants must complete and submit a signed copy of the retail Cannabis License Application form available on this webpage.

INDEMNIFICATION/FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FORM: All applicants must complete and submit a signed copy of the indemnification and financial responsibility form available on this webpage.

PROPERTY OWNER'S STATEMENT OF CONSENT: All aplicants must complete and submit a signed and notarized copy of the owner's statement of consent form available on this webpage.

ZONING VERIFICATION LETTER (ZVL): Applicants shall obtain a ZVL from the Community  Development Department and submit along with their Retail Cannabis License application. The letter will verify whether the submitted site is eligible for cannabis retail license in accordance with the City's Zoning Regulations. All locations shall be subject to a ZVL to confirm that the proposed location is properly zoned and meets all the minimum sensitive buffer requirements. Please be advised that the City will only accept one ZVL per property. Once it receives one for each location it will no longer accept request to review them. When requesting a ZVL, the Applicant will need to show that it either owns the property, signed a lease agreement, or received a letter of “Intention to Lease” from the property owner. 

ZVL requires a written request to the Community Development Department and will not be completed over the counter to allow for research and review. The review process typically takes approximately five (5) working days.  Please note the issuance of a ZVL does not constitute written evidence of permission given by the City of Pacific Grove or any of its officials to operate a Cannabis Retail Business, nor does it establish a “permit” within the meaning of the Permit Streamlining Act, nor does it create an entitlement under the Zoning or Building Codes.

PROOF OF INSURABILITY OF THE SITE/BUSINESS/PRINCIPLALS: At the time of the application, the applicant must provide proof of insurability of the site, business, and principals. Once a provisional Cannabis Retail License has been granted to the applicant, the applicant must then provide a certificate of insurance in accordance with the City-required limits.

CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK:  At the beginning of the application process, each applicant and each owner must undergo a criminal history background check to demonstrate they do not provide “good cause” for denial per PGMC, Section 11.100.080 (b)(5) (E). This will consist of a provisional background check by means of an online portal available on the City’s website at

Upon completing the online background check form, each applicant will be required to print an online receipt which must be submitted with the application as proof of completion. Applicants and Owners who do not meet the criminal history eligibility requirements in PGMC, Section 100.100.080 (b)(5)(E) will be disqualified.

In the final stages of the application process, the successful Applicant selected by the Selection Committee will need to submit to a Live Scan prior to being issued a License. This will involve submitting fingerprints to the Pacific Grove Police Department. The Applicant’s primary contact will be notified by email with the instructions on how to schedule the Live Scan appointment when the Selection Committee  determines which Applicant will be awarded a license. 


  1. Experience – Provide detailed experience in operating a retail establishment, a regulatory business, or managing employees within the cannabis industry. Included here should be the location of such activity and a copy of any permits, licenses, or other written forms of permission for such activity by a local or state government entity. In addition, list all college degrees, certificates, or professional licenses obtained by members of the management team which would demonstrate other technical knowledge that may assist with successfully running a business organization.
  2. Finances – A budget for construction, operations, maintenance, compensation of employees, equipment, property lease, security equipment and staff, City fees, state fees, utility costs, product purchases and other anticipated contingency costs. The budget must demonstrate sufficient capital in place to pay startup costs and at least three months of operating costs, as well as a description of the sources and uses of funds. 
    • Proof of capitalization, in the form of documentation of cash or other liquid assets on hand, Letters of Credit or other equivalent assets which can be verified by the City.
    • A pro forma for at least three years of operations.
    • A schedule for beginning operation, including a narrative outlining any proposed construction and improvements and a timeline for completion.
    • The business plan should include a submittal as to how a cannabis tax will be managed if a cannabis tax is authorized.
  3. Daily Operations – With as much detail as possible, the Business Plan should describe the day-to-day operations which meet industry best practices for a retail cannabis license. This should include at a minimum the following criteria:
    • Describe customer check-in procedures.
    • Identify location and procedures for receiving deliveries during business hours.
    • Identify the name of the point-of-sale system to be used and the number of point-of-sale locations.
    • Estimate the number of customers to be served per hour/day.
    • Describe the proposed product line to be sold and estimate the percentage of sales of flower and manufactured products.
    • If proposed, describe delivery service procedures, number of vehicles and product security during transportation.
  4. How the Cannabis Business will conform to local and state laws. See PGMC, Chapter 11.100 as it pertains to retail establishments in the City of Pacific Grove. 
  5. How cannabis and cannabis products will be tracked and monitored to prevent diversion.  Describe the point of sale system to be used and how it will interact with the state’s mandated track and trace system.


  1. The application should describe to what extent the business will adhere to heightened pay and benefits standards and practices, including recognition of the collective bargaining rights of employees.
  2. Identify number of employees at initial opening and the maximum number of employees when the business is at full capacity.  
  3. Identify any social equity programs that will be developed as part of the business model to ensure employees are provided equal opportunities for development.
  4. Identify all positions and their responsibilities.  
  5. Describe compensation to and opportunities for continuing education and training for employees.


  1. The detailed Safety Plan shall be prepared by a California professional fire prevention and suppression consultant.
  2. This plan will describe all fire prevention and suppression measures, fire extinguisher locations, evacuation routes and alarm systems the facility will have in place.
  3. Accident and incident reporting procedures.
  4. Waste management locations and procedures.

  1. The security plan shall be prepared by a professional security consultant (Security plans will not be made public). The plan should detail the floor plan and address other security issues on the property.
  2. Premises Diagram:  In addition to the site plans submitted for the Proposed Location, a Premises Diagram must be included with the Security Plan section of the application.  The diagram must meet the requirement of the Bureau of Cannabis Control CCR Title 16, Division 42, §5006. Premises Diagram.
    • The diagram shall show the boundaries of the property and the proposed location to be licensed, showing all boundaries, dimensions, entrances and exits, interior partitions, walls, rooms, windows, and doorways, and shall include a brief statement or description of the principal activity to be conducted therein.  
    • The diagram shall show and identify commercial cannabis activities that will take place in each area of the premises and identify all limited-access areas.
    • The diagram shall show where all cameras are located and assign a number to each camera for identification purposes.  
    • The diagram should be accurate, dimensioned and to-scale (minimum scale of 1/4”).
    • If the proposed location consists of only a portion of a property, the diagram must be labeled indicating which part of the property will be used for the licensed premise and what activities will be used for the remaining property. 
  3. Description of operational security, including but not limited to general security for access/visitor control, inventory control and cash handling procedures for internal controls and for removing it off the premises to financial institutions or armor carriers.
  4. Description of perimeter security, on-site security guards, lighting, and parking. 
  5. Identify transportation techniques and security procedures.
  6. Employee training and general security policies.


  1. Describe how the business will proactively address and respond to complaints related to noise, light, odor, vehicle, and pedestrian traffic.
  2. Describe how the business will be managed to avoid becoming a nuisance or having impacts on its neighbors and the surrounding community.
  3. Describe odor mitigation practices:
    • Identify potential sources of odor from any cannabis or cannabis products being sold.
    • Describe odor control devices and techniques employed to ensure that odors from cannabis are not detectable beyond the licensed premises.  
    • Describe all proposed staff training, and system maintenance plans.
    • Describe the waste management plan. The plan shall include waste disposal locations, security measures, methods of rendering all waste unusable and unrecognizable, and the process or vendor in charge of disposal.
  4. The application should include the following information on the proposed location:
    • A. Physical address and a detailed description of the proposed location, including the overall property, building and interior floor plan.  
    • B. Description of all known nearby State and local sensitive use areas. The cannabis business must have the appropriate zoning and meet all the locational requirements as described in PGMC, Chapter 11.100.080(c)(2). 
    • C. Proof of ownership, lease agreement, or a “Letter of Intent” to lease. If a “Letter of Intent” is furnished, no more than one (1) applicant may have a “letter of Intent” agreement with the landlord per address.
    • D. Vicinity map.
    • E. Photographs of existing site and buildings on the property.
    • F. Evidence that the location has access to public transportation for employees or customers.
    • G. Site diagram for each proposed location, including at a minimum:
      • G1.1  Location and dimensions of all buildings and structures – including square footage.
      • G1.2 Location of all parking areas and driveways and means of ingress and egress to the property.
      • G1.3 Uses for all buildings and structures indicated on the site plan.
      • G1.4 If any exterior alterations are proposed for the existing building(s), attach proposed site plans.
    • H. Floor diagram for each proposed location, including at a minimum:
      • H1.1 Interior and exterior walls and partitions, entrances and exits, rooms, doorways, and  windows.
      • H1.2 Dimensions and square footage of all interior spaces.
      • H1.3 Proposed use of all interior spaces.
In addition to the location related details provided in the Cannabis Retail Application the application shall include a thorough description of the proposed location, including but not limited to the overall property, building and floor plan. 

  • The Cannabis Retail Application must have the appropriate zoning and meet all the locational  requirements as described in PGMC, 11.100.080 (c)(2).
  • The application shall include photographs of the front (street facing) side of the building.  In the event the proposed location is undeveloped land, photographs shall depict the property from all vantage points of the property.  
  • Premises (Site) Diagram for each proposed location. In addition to diagrams submitted for other sections of the application, applicants are expected to submit a premise/site diagram that focuses on the overall property, building and floor plan.  (Blueprints and engineering site plans are not required at this point of the application process). 
  • A Premise (Site) Diagram must be accurate, dimensioned and to-scale (minimum scale of ¼”).   The diagram shall provide a detailed description of all available/shared parking spaces, driveway locations, and auxiliary buildings on the parcel.
  • Renderings of the outside of the proposed location upon completion of all proposed tenant improvements.  Renderings shall be to scale, be in color and include any proposed signage. 


The Community Benefit Plan should describe the benefits the business will provide in order to enhance the quality of life to the local community, for example by directly aiding, participating in, or funding the work of local non-profits, community-based organizations, civic organizations, or social services organizations. Benefits may be in the form of volunteer services, monetary donations, financial support of City-sponsored activities or organizations, in-kind donations to the City or other charitable organizations. In addition, it should clearly stipulate the financial incentives in which it shall provide the City as a percentage of their gross receipts.

AMENDMENTS TO THE APPLICATIONApplicants will not be allowed to make amendments to their application or to supplement their application, except as otherwise specifically permitted in these procedures, or posted on the City’s Website as an update clarification. During Phase I (see Application Evaluation Section below), a preliminary evaluation of the applications for completeness will take place.  Any application that is missing a major component (i.e. Business Plan), will be rejected, with applicant notification by email. Substantive evaluations of the applications will occur during Phase II (see Application Evaluation Section below). At that time, the City will notify applicants by email if their applications are found to be missing minor requirements (for example, signatures/dates on forms, proof of payment receipts or missing scanned pages in one of the scoring criteria documents). If this is the case, at the City’s sole discretion, Applicants may be granted an extension from the date of the email to submit the required supplemental information.

CITY’S RESERVATION OF RIGHTSThe City reserves the right to reject any and/or all proposals, with or without any cause or reason. The City may modify, postpone, or cancel the request for a Cannabis Retail License application without liability, obligation, or commitment to any party, firm, or organization. In addition, the City reserves the right to request and obtain additional information from any candidate submitting a proposal. Late proposals WILL BE REJECTED. Furthermore, a proposal RISKS BEING REJECTED for the following reasons: 

  • It is not responsive to this request for a Cannabis Retail License Application and the Procedures & Guidelines.
  • The issuance of the Cannabis Retail License for the proposed location is inconsistent with State law, PGMC, Chapter 11.100, and Chapter 23.31.030. 

  • Should an applicant wish the financial information to be treated as confidential, they should clearly identify it on each page as such. However, applicants should be aware that the information may be subject to disclosure under Government Code Section 6254.
  • Security Plans will not be made public pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(f).

All applications submitted will undergo a robust review and will be subject to a merit based evaluation and selection process as follows:


During Phase I, applications will be reviewed for completeness and compliance against the submittal requirements listed above. Applications that are incomplete or received late will automatically be disqualified. Initial application screening results will be available for review on this page.


During Phase II, the City’s contracted independent subject matter expert will score each application using the following merit-based criteria for the purpose of establishing a preliminary qualification. 

  • Business Plan (200 points)
  • Labor & Local Enterprise Plan (100 points)
  • Safety Plan (100 points)
  • Security Plan (100 points)
  • Neighborhood Compatability Plan (200 points)
  • Location (100 points)
  • Community Benefits Plan (200 points)

Notice of the results of Phase II will be provided in writing via email to the primary contact listed on the application.


During Phase III, the Selection Committee (two City Council appointed designees, the City Manager, the Police Chief and the Community Development Director) will receive the applicant score cards from Phase II, and use them to assist in their review to force rank applicants against each other, evaluating the categories listed above, as well as the applicant interview, and perceived fit for the community.

Upon the completion of Phase III, the Selection Committee will create a ranking which will form the basis of the selection. The purpose of the rankings is to produce an Eligibility List, which the Selection Committee will use to make the final determination for the Provisional Retail License. This list will also be used in the event that an Applicant awarded a license is disqualified or is unable to continue in the process for any reason. 

The City reserves the right to request and obtain additional information from any candidate who advanced to Phase IV. The Selection Committee’s selection of the prevailing applicant shall be final. Unsuccessful applicants shall have the right to appeal in accordance with PGMC, Section 1.19.


Prior to the Issuance of the provisional Cannabis Retail License, the City shall require the Applicant to certify that all information in the application remains accurate and that the Applicant agrees to abide by all laws, rules, ordinances, resolutions, and codes applicable to the business. In addition, the City Manager shall execute the Community Benefit Agreement with the successful Applicant. Once the provisional Cannabis License has been issued, the applicant can then begin to work with the City's Community Development Department on their use and building permits. The provisional Cannabis Retail License does not constitute a land use entitlement and does not waive or remove the requirements of applying for and receiving permits for all construction including: electrical, plumbing, fire, planning permits or reviews, and any other permits, licenses, or reviews as may be required by the relevant departments or governmental entities in charge of said permits. Nor does it guarantee that the plans submitted via the application process meet the standards or requirements of Ordinance 20-022 or any other permit requirements from other City departments or agencies.

Additional Resources
Who drafts the Community Benefit Agreement?
What is the City of Pacific Grove looking for as far as community benefits goes? Are there certain projects that need funding in order to be implemented?
How long does it take to secure a Use Permit? 
Does the applicant need to submit the UP application at the same time the cannabis business permit applications?
What type of security system/program does the City prefer?
Can you clarify the access and door locking requirement as it pertains to the fire code?
Is the goal of the city to improve downtown with a cannabis shop or is any location equal as far as it meets the setback requirements?
Does the City anticipate an appeal since only one license is available and what will that do to the timeframe of opening a site?
Has a Citizen Petition been filed to repeal the Cannabis Ordinance?
What effect does the pending citizen referendum petition have on the City's ability to review and process Retail Cannabis License applications?

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