CALIFORNIA CITY – The city is one step closer to opening its first storefront retail and delivery cannabis dispensary. On June 4, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a Conditional Use Permit for California City Supply LLC, doing business as Driven Direct.
The company plans to use an existing building at 6508 California City Blvd. currently housing a beauty salon and combination security company and gun store - those businesses will also remain on site. After some interior modifications, the gun shop will be reduced in size to about 719 square feet with the dispensary then taking up the nearly 1,000 remaining square feet.
"We're hoping to get it up and rolling real soon, since we do have an existing building," said applicant Rick Jones.
He explained that each business would have a separate entrance.
"You're not going to go through the gun store and get to the marijuana dispensary," said Jones. "You're going to come directly in and there will be a lobby. The guard will check, make sure you're there for all the good intent, and then you'll be allowed to go into the main facility."
Because of the potential for increased vehicle traffic, a parcel to the east of the business - also owned by Jones - would be set aside for additional parking. He was requesting a waiver to allow use of decomposed granite for the surface instead of asphalt.
"The front parking lot already is asphalt and we're going to widen that with asphalt," said Jones. "The side lot and the back lot, we want to use DG until we see if there's really going to be a lot of business."
In phase two of the project, an additional 5,000 square foot building would be added behind the existing building. That building would primarily be a garage for company vehicles and storage for some of the product.
Concerns about traffic along California City Boulevard were also discussed. An existing deceleration lane into the parking area for eastbound traffic has fallen into disrepair and would be restored. Also, at some point in the past, striping was changed for westbound traffic adding a double yellow line instead of a left turn lane. The double yellow line means it is currently illegal to make a left turn into the business if you are headed westbound.
"There is a turn lane as you're coming into town," said Jones. "But for some reason there's not one going the other way. However, the boulevard's the exact same width. So there's no reason why you couldn't just redo the lines."
Jones also said that a sign would be added to the exit of the parking area indicating right turns only. The intention would be to try to prevent someone from making a left turn out of the business at the same time someone is trying to make a left turn into the business.
Several residents spoke in favor of the CUP with potential increased traffic and access from California City Boulevard being the only concerns expressed.
Parent company for the project is Driven Deliveries Inc., believed to be the country's first publicly traded cannabis delivery company. In a phone interview, Driven Deliveries President Brian Hayek said they are still aiming for a July start date for the business.
"The application has been submitted to state and they're reviewing it, but the interior buildout has started," he said. "Any holdup will be just getting through the licensing process with the state."
As in an earlier interview, Hayek praised the process of working with local government.
"The city of California City has been amazing to work with," he said. "They been really good about letting us know what we need to provide to them to get us up and running. It's been a really pleasant experience."
The California City location will also function as the third fulfillment center for the company, the other two located in Sacramento and Los Angeles and primarily serve an area ranging from Bakersfield to northern Los Angeles, according to Hayek.
"As we get closer to the start date, we will begin focusing on hiring and engaging more with the community," he said. As many as 15 employees will be needed for the store itself, with contract delivery adding another 20 to 25 drivers.
Driven Delivery trades over-the-counter at DRVD. OTC trading is done directly between two parties. It is contrasted with exchange trading, which occurs via exchanges.