Any marijuana retail shops or processing facilities in the city of U.P. would be located in mixed use and light-industrial areas of the city that are along 27th Street. The city still has a ban against all marijuana operations, however, and there is no timeline on changing that anytime soon.
The City Council approved the zoning criteria regarding marijuana operations for when, or if, the ban is ever lifted either through council action or if the state forbids cities from having bans against marijuana operations.
University Place Municipal Code prohibits all marijuana businesses. Changing that would take at least two city council members to slate the issue for consideration and then a vote of the full council after a public hearing. No one on the city council has so far floated the idea of lifting the ban.
Two council members would first have to propose a change. The mayor would then schedule a study session and public hearing. The council would only then vote on lifting a ban.
“The fastest that could happen would be about a month,” Planning and Development Services Director David Swindale said, noting that one member of the council has triggered that process to start.
The council has made it clear that the ban isn’t likely to change anytime soon, if ever.
“In assigning the issue to the Planning Commission, the City Council expressly noted that any decision on whether in the future the state-licensed and regulated marijuana uses could be allowed in the city would solely be the decision of the City Council, and that by referring these zoning and development issues for review to the Planning Commission, the City Council did not commit to making any change in the city’s current prohibition,” according to a staff report.
The council, however, has adopted the Planning Commission’s recommendations on where pot shops and marijuana processors could be located if state or city laws change. If the ban is ever lifted, retail shops could be located in mixed-use areas that are 1,000 feet from schools and parks. That means 27th Street just west of Bridgeport Way. Marijuana manufacturing and processing centers could locate in light-industrial zones, which would mean 27th Street between Mildred and Bridgeport.
At issue is about $70,000 in tax revenue to the cash-strapped city, but even that is not certain.
“That would be a guess,” Swindale said, since tax revenue projections are based on sales volume in other cities.
The notion of lifting the ban or even determining possible sites for marijuana operations if the ban was ever lifted has been a hot topic issue in the city, with large turnout for public hearings held by the Planning Commission and councils voicing public safety concerns.
The Planning Commission took time to research the issue through the lens of the least impactful possible locations if the state forbids municipal bans, much like how cities can’t have outright bans against strip clubs.
“We tried to be very thoughtful about it,” Planning Commission Chairman Cliff Quisenberry said. “It’s a hot topic.”