Four retail cannabis store proposals highlight City Council meeting tonight

MARTINEZ, Calif. – There should be no boredom at tonight’s city council meeting. The four cannabis storefront applications, the Traditions at the Meadow park district and a new pro baseball team sponsor, are agenda highlights.


Artist’s rendering of Embarc:, located at 3501 Alhambra Avenue, formerly California Collectible Books.

City code allows only two retail cannabis stores to operate in town, and Firefly Health was recently approved for a site in a business park fronting on Arnold Drive. The city asked forbids in May 2019, received 10 proposals, and using a scoring system of criteria, whittled them to five. Now, the council may choose one of the four remaining marijuana store proposals as the winner of the Conditional Certificate to operate in town.

Three of the four locations are on Alhambra Avenue and one is downtown on Green Street.

A Proposal Review Committee (PRC) reviewed each of the written proposals, met on October 30, 2019 and interviewed the five proposal teams. According to a city staff report, the “PRC gave particular consideration to the capacity, capitalization, security and history of the individual proposals, the community benefit offered by the proposed commercial cannabis business and any other factors that the city, in its discretion, deems necessary to maintainvand/or promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the public. Regardless of the PRC ranking, the Council has full discretion in choosing or not choosing to award a Conditional Certificate.”

Each proposal was then given a score:
– Authentic 925: 4025 Alhambra Avenue (currently Donuts & Deli) scored 100%
– Element 7: 741 Green Street (currently Freedom Heating and Air Cond.) scored 96%
– Embarc: 3501 Alhambra Avenue (formerly California Collectible Books) 107%
– Have a Heart: 4121 Alhambra Ave (UFCW Union Bldg.-shared) scored 95%.

Concerns have been expressed on social media regarding all four sites. Alhabra Avenue is a main throughfare for visitors into Martinez and the proposed locations are close to Alhambra High School. The Green St. proposed site is just over the 600-foot required buffer from St. Catherine’s school.

Embarc is led by a familiar name to Martinez residents. Former U.S. Representative George Miller is listed as Embarc Chairman of the Community Advisory Board. His son, George Miller IV, is Embarc Owner & Chief Executive Officer.

No matter which is chosen, the council and the public will have plenty of information to make the decision. A detailed report on each proposal is available on the city website and at city hall.

The Mayor has been ordered to recuse himself from the cannabis conversation because one of his insurance business clients is involved with one of the applicants. This means the remainder of the council will be discussing the pros and cons of the applicants.

Pro Baseball

Martinez baseball fans were seriously disappointed when the Clippers legal and financial troubles caused the former owners to abandon the team.

A new team owner has been found, but because of the negative publicity surrounding the former owner’s alleged government fraud case, he is going the change the name of the team.

The handsome new Joe DiMaggio baseball field at Waterfront Park was consigned to amateur ball players this year, but the mayor and a few others did not give up on pro-baseball for Martinez.

In the last several months Mayor Rob Schroder, Vice Mayor Noralea Gipner, Leanne Peterson, Kevin Reilly, a representative of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs (PAPB) Vallejo team, and others have been talking to people who might help them bring back pro baseball. “No one locally, was interested,” according to Schroder.

“Andrew Dunn, Commissioner of the Pecos League out of Texas, called me. He was aware of our situation because the Salina, Kansas team played in the Pacific association last year,” Schroder recalled. “He contacted me and said we may want to get together.”

Although the closest Pecos League team is in Monterey, Schroder said they decided to talk. “I don’t know where all the teams are, but there is one in Nevada, and the Central Valley,” he commented.

Dunn came to see the Martinez facility. The mayor, vice-mayor, Michael Chandler, and a representative of the Sonoma Stompers toured the facility with him, according to Schroder.

“He was just flabbergasted at what a nice facility we have at the waterfront. He said, ‘I’m interested. I have to get this all together,’” Schroder remembered.

Dunn came back with a proposal to sponsor a team that will play in the PAPB league. Naturally, Schroder, the PAPB league and the others were happy to hear that.

However, the new team owner plans to change the name to the Martinez Mackerels. On that topic, Schroder said, “That is what he is entitled to do.”

Dunn is apparently very enthusiastic about the plan and, according to Schroder, no one local was interested.

Located in Houston, Texas, Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs is an independent professional baseball league operating in cities from Kansas, throughout the southwest, and in California.

Traditions at the Meadow

The Public Hearing related to the formation of City of Martinez Community Facilities District for Public Services related to the Traditions at the Meadow development and park may be approved, or the council could decide it is too complicated and they need more public participation to plan the park that DeNova Homes agreed to give the city. If they put off the formation of the Community Facilities District, it will be continued to no later than March 4, 2020. The facilities district would allow the city to add a Mello-Roos type of tax to the new home owner’s taxes for a fixed period.

What effect this will have on the legal agreement between the city, the developer and citizen groups is unknown. Reportedly that agreement included a commitment from the city to expedite construction approvals in order to move forward with the grading for the park and residential development on the old Pine Meadow Golf course site on Vine Hill Way.

The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Council Chamber of Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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